The latest news on New York architecture.

  • JFK's Once Futuristic Terminal is in Danger of Getting Torn Down

      The original architects of the Pan Am Worldport might have hoped that the building would fit in perfectly with the landscape of the new millennium. The terminal at New York’s JFK Airport was built in 1960 by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects in the shape of a futuristic flying saucer. It made its mark on American cultural history by sending off the Beatles after their first U.S. tour and . Pan Am shuttered its ticket windows in 1991, but the Worldport still serves as a reminder that air travel was once seen as an exotic luxury, rather than a nuisance-riddled necessity. Although the Worldport is iconic, its current tenant, Delta Airlines, is planning to dismantle the structure, now known as Terminal 3, in 2015 to make way for a $1.2 billion expansion of neighboring Terminal 4. The original Worldport space will eventually be used as a parking lot for aircraft. Recently, an online campaign to preserve the terminal has been gaining traction, spearheaded by aviation enthusiast Kalev Savi and partner Anthony Stramaglia. Save The Pan Am Worldport aims to keep this iconic piece of aviation architecture from being demolished, and to see it refurbished and repurposed for new generations of jet-setters. "You just don’t see buildings like that anymore constructed at airports," says Stramaglia. "Now a terminal is more like a warehouse than a showpiece. This building is more of an art form." Savi and Stramaglia started an online petition a little over a year ago that has garnered 1,818 signatures so far. Their current project is to get the Worldport approved for New York Landmark Status, with the eventual hope that it will be recognized with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Other terminals and structures at JFK have been recognized for their historic significance over the years, including the TWA Flight Center, a swooping dome that was completed in 1962 and designed by renowned Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. (It was also added to the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2003.) "In some people’s mind, that was the building worth saving," Savi says. "This criticism that there’s no famous architect associated with [the Worldport] I find to be a moot point." The New York Port Authority and Delta Airlines have said that the Worldport is beyond repair, and upkeep and maintenance have become impractical and costly. "It’s not an asset you can recover at this point," Delta CEO Richard Anderson was quoted as saying in The Architect’s Newspaper in 2010. Other complaints about the space include its small, cramped feel with the addition of baggage screening and TSA security checkpoints, which the architects didn’t have to consider in their original plans. It underwent a renovation in 1971 to accommodate the Boeing 747, but the interior space is still lagging behind modern airport standards. So far, the New York Port Authority and Delta haven’t responded to the campaign. Savi and Stramaglia think that the structure could be preserved with some outside-the-box thinking, and they argue that, in an age of generic cookie-cutter airports, Delta could make a branding statement by repurposing the building, or even housing an aviation history museum inside the terminal. They also posit that tearing the terminal down and paving it over is twice as expensive as the cost of repair and refurbishment. Save The Pan Am Worldport shows no signs of slowing down, and Savi and Stramaglia are hoping that they’ll be able to win some immunity from demolition for the flying saucer portion of the terminal before 2015. "It should be something that the public can enjoy, that can help them remember significant events from the past," Savi says. "It should be something that people want to go to." This post originally appeared on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Nation blog, an Atlantic partner site. Kate Flynn is an editorial intern at Preservation magazine. Her work has appeared online at the Washington Post and in Consequence of Sound, a music and culture blog.

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  • Developer's Fifth Avenue Building Proposal Irks Famous Neighbors

    815 Fifth Avenue is sandwiched between 812 Fifth Avenue and 817 Fifth Avenue On an historic, stately stretch of Fifth Avenue, a proposal by a Brazilian developer for a luxury high-rise is threatening to disrupt the peace. Residents of two Central Park-facing buildings, at 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue, are gearing up to fight a structure planned for 815 Fifth Avenue that they described in a letter to fellow residents as “contemporary” and “incompatible” with the character of the neighborhood, The Real Deal has learned. Paperwork filed with the Department of Buildings calls for a 15-story building with a dozen apartments as well as partial demolition of a six-story building, which records show is the oldest structure on Fifth Avenue between 59th and 110th streets. JHSF Participacoes S.A., based in Brazil, is named on renderings of the project, although the official documents list the developer as Eight Hundred and Fifteen Fifth Avenue, a limited liability company. JHSF has developed more than 19 million square feet of real estate in Sao Paulo. Brazilian banking magnate Sergio Millerman, the former CEO of Safra National Bank of New York and a consultant to the Safra Group, the Brazil-based international banking empire, is named in official documents as an adviser to the project. A spokesperson for Millerman told The Real Deal that the owners of the project are “highly sensitive to the history of the area” and will proceed in a manner that is “consistent with that sensitivity.” While the spokesperson confirmed that Millerman is assisting the developer on the project, he declined to comment on the identity of the developer. The board of managers for 817 Fifth Avenue sent the Feb. 13 letter opposing the project to both residents of both their building and 812 Fifth Avenue. The letter called for the residents to speak out against the development at a community board hearing last night. The developer presented the proposal Feb. 11 to Community Board 8′s Landmarks Committee, an advisory panel. The Landmarks Committee unanimously rejected the building, calling it “incompatible with the character of the block,” the letter said. The project can still move ahead, however, if the Landmarks Preservation Commission signs off on it. The new building would be 200 feet tall, nearly triple the height of the existing 80-foot-tall structure, according to papers filed with the Department of Buildings. The architect, Timothy Greer of Connecticut-based TP Greer Architects, said he has been working closely with the landmarks commission over the last few months to create a building with will be “senstitive to and consistent with the established architectural character and scale of Fifth Avenue.” While a spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission could not comment directly on the project, which is in an historic district, she said any new building within such a district should be “consistent with the height and shape of the other buildings in the district” in order to obtain necessary approvals from the LPC. “Whether it is a contemporary design or a contextual, more traditional design, the façade composition, scale, materials and details should have some relationship to the buildings in this historic district which can be abstract or literal,” she said. Residents on the upper floors of 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue are concerned the proposed development will block their views, bringing down their property values. At 817 Fifth Avenue, the views are to the south; residents of 812 Fifth Avenue look to the north. Jewelry designer Janet Yaseen, a resident of 812 Fifth Avenue, said residents of her building stood “shoulder to shoulder” with residents of 817 Fifth Avenue in the dispute. The building on the site, designed by Samuel A. Warner, went up in 1871. Once a single-family home owned by hotel owner James Stewart Cushman and wife Verna, the brownstone today houses 12 apartments and two offices. Real estate investor Robert Haskell sold the building to JHSF last year for $32 million, public records show, $7 million over its asking price. Both 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue have been home to celebrities and the city’s biggest power players. Actor Richard Gere, business magnate Steve Wynn and socialite Courtney Sale Ross have lived at 817 Fifth Avenue; New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and his wife, Mary “Tod” Rockefeller, had a home in 812 Fifth Avenue.

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