The latest news on New York architecture.

  • A Guide to Working on Landmarked Buildings

    A Guide to Working on Landmarked Buildings

    New York City is home to over 36,000 landmarked properties-most of which are located in 141 historic districts and extensions - 1,398 individual landmarks, and 119 interior landmarks. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the largest preservation agency in the nation, is entrusted with safeguarding the city’s cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history.

    Any work proposed work on a landmarked building must be held up to strict LPC standards and regulations- that means any restoration, alteration, reconstruction, demolition or new construction that effects a landmark requires a permit.

    The type of permit required depends entirely on the type of work involved in the project. Permits can either be issued by a staff Preservationist or the full Commission depending on whether or not the scope of work meets the rules of the Commission. There are three types of permits:

    Certificate of No Effect:

    Also known as a CNE, a Certificate of No Effect is required for the following work:

    • Interior renovations that require Department of Buildings permits

    • Installation of plumbing and heating equipment

    • Installation of an exhaust fan vent

    • Changes that the staff determines do not adversely affect significant features of the building

    A CNE can be approved at staff level and does not require a public hearing with the full Commission.

    Permit for Minor Work

    Also known as a PMW, a Permit for Minor Work is required when the scope of work affects significant architectural features. This type of work includes:

    • Window/ door replacement

    • Masonry cleaning or repair

    • Restoration of architectural details

     

    A PMW can be approved at staff level and does not require a public hearing with the full Commission.

     

    Certificate of Appropriateness

    Over 90% of all applications to the LPC fall within the first two permit categories, however the remaining 10% are reviewed by the full Commission and the project’s local community board. Also known as a C of A, a Certificate of Appropriateness is required if the scope of work affects the significant landmarked features or does not conform to the Rules of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This includes:

    • Additions

    • Demolitions

    • New construction

    • Removal of significant architectural features

    Filing a permit with the Landmarks Preservation Commission requires that an Architect create signed/sealed drawings and prepare a package of descriptive materials to aid the Commission’s evaluation of the impact of the proposed scope of work. These materials include a permit application, color photographs of the current building, historic photographs, close-up photos of where the work will occur, documentation of features to be restored, detail drawings, elevation and section drawings, written specifications and color/material samples.


    Whether you plan to do minor repairs or a full building addition, when approaching a project with landmark status it is important to hire a firm with extensive experience with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If you have any questions about performing work on your landmarked property, do not hesitate to contact us.

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  • Preserving Historic Fabric in the Midst of Redevelopment

    Preserving Historic Fabric in the Midst of Redevelopment

    New York City is home to over 36,000 landmarked properties-most of which are located in 141 historic districts and extensions - 1,398 individual landmarks, and 119 interior landmarks. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the largest preservation agency in the nation, is entrusted with safeguarding the city’s cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history. Any work proposed work on a landmarked building must be held up to strict LPC standards and regulations before obtaining approval. While these regulations may curb pervasive development, the Landmarks Preservation Commission by no means discourages new development altogether. In fact, the recently approved redevelopment of the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing is a prime example of how historic preservation and new development can happily co-exist.  

    After over 30 years of neglect and several plans for redevelopment, the RKO Keith’s Theater finally has a chance at new life thanks to Xinyuan Real Estate. In 2016 the Chinese firm purchased the historic theater with the intent to provide high-end residential housing to the underserved market of Flushing, Queens. In May, Xinyuan presented their plan to rehabilitate and preserve the 1928-built theater’s landmarked grand foyer and ticket lobby within a new glass 16-floor building with 269 apartments designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

    Xinyuan plans to use the landmarked ticket lobby and grand foyer as the building entry, however the original 3,000 seat theater does not hold landmark status and will be razed. Due to the decades of neglect the historic interior has fallen into a state of critical disrepair and just about every inch of the interior will require some form of restorative work.

    At the hearing the Landmarks Preservation Committee did voice some concerns about the accessibility of the landmark. While the ticket booth would be a part of the public retail space, as presented, the public would not be permitted into the lobby of the residential building without the invitation of a resident. While security of the residents is a concern, the Commission hesitated to approve blocking off a public landmark, and suggested separating the residential entry with a series of doors.

    Despite the Commissioners’ concerns, they decided to unanimously support the project, with one condition: Staff members at the Commission would work with the developers to settle the issue of public access to the grand foyer. The approval of this major project goes to show that landmark status is not an end to the possibilities for redevelopment. 

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