the view from the top of the empire building in new york city

A Guide to Working on Landmarked Buildings

By: Scott Henson

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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