The latest news on New York architecture.


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Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission was sort of surprisingly okay with SHoP Architects' proposed 1,350-foot residential tower at 107 West 57th Street, the site of the landmarked Steinway Building (which will also be restored), when it was presented two weeks ago. While the commissioners did have a few concerns, the were for the most part related to the Steinway Building and not to the tower itself. At a second presentation this morning, SHoP addressed those concerns, revising their plans to demolish a much smaller portion of the structure taking up the Steinway Building's back courtyard and replacing the glass of the 57th Street atrium facade with a much clearer single-layered glass, so that observers at street level would be able to look through and see the landmarked building. The plans were approved, and so the 1,350-foot climb begins.
Paulina Tam  reports for PreservationNation Blog.   Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: Mike Hendren, Flickr. A meteor crater in Winslow, near the eastern border of Arizona. To those who dream of going to space but haven’t been able to visit the stars, Meteor Crater Visitors Center in Winslow, Arizona, gives visitors a chance to see a piece of otherworldly history: a 550-feet deep meteorite crater created approximately 50,000 years ago. This natural national landmark left quite an impression on astronauts training for the Apollo Missions in the 1960s, who came to the site to learn how to identify craters and collect moon rocks. Also leaving a lasting impression at the Visitors Center: a glass-less window in a brick wall that frames the wide Arizonian landscape with its bare yet striking simplicity, designed by the late American architect Philip Johnson. Johnson also helped designed the Meteor Crater Center’s pavilion. "The Park Service was still struggling to revive itself after war during the late 1940s, when the designs were submitted for a modern building at Meteor Crater," writes Sarah Allaback, author of Mission 66 Visitor Centers: The History of a Building Type. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: Brian Turner. "The commission went to Philip Johnson, co-organizer of the 1932 International Style exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and, more recently, architect of the ‘glass house’ (1949) in New Caanan, Connecticut," Allaback writes. "Johnson’s work must have seemed fittingly futuristic to his clients at Meteor Crater." However, over the years the site has added various extensions such as a Museum (Discovery Center) in 1956, a two-story apartment for workers in 1960, and a Retail and Food Service Building in 1962, making it unclear which parts of Johnson’s original designs still remained and whether any of them molded with any of the modern constructions. Now renovations are approaching for the landmark, and with them come a multitude of decisions for the pavilion. A master plan for renovation maps out a construction series that will illustrate the Visitors Center’s future for the next 10 to 20 years, says Robyn Messerschmidt, Vice President of Administration at the Center. The first step would be the Center’s admissions building, where Johnson’s work is located. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: albertobastos, Flickr. "It [is] very military looking and it’s even been said it looks like a prison, so we’re trying to make it look appealing so people will come in," says Messerschmidt. “One of the major problems that we have is that people don’t understand what we have beyond the point, and so having a more appealing entrance will get people more excited about what they’re about to see inside." She adds that the first phase of construction should be finished by the end of August and September. Earlier in the first phase, David Green, a scientific advisor of the Barringer Crater Company, a privately owned organization that owns the Meteor Crater, came out to make sure everything was running smoothly and to make sure they weren’t doing anything that might disturb the crater’s original integrity. New changes will come but the old will mostly stay intact, says Messerschmidt. Guided rim tours and three-sectioned observation decks, each allowing the viewer a different view of the crater, are in place to give viewers a chance to see the crater in its entirety while protecting it from foot traffic. A glass viewing area will enclose the Visitors Center, essentially enveloping Johnson’s work inside it too, says Messerschmidt. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: mousenerdbot, Flickr. Demion Clinco, a National Trust Advisor for Arizona, and Andie Zelnio, architect and board member of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, believe that since the Center is privately owned and previous changes have already changed much of Johnson’s original designs, further renovations would, in effect, eliminate Johnson’s work. "We believe [Johnson’s original design] is an important building, a forgotten treasure by one of our country’s most significant architects and Philip Johnson’s only work in the state of Arizona,” say Clinco and Zelnio in an email. “During our visit to the site in May, it appears that the plaza and portions of the Visitors Center retain aspects of Johnson’s signature work, but further scholarship is needed to determine the facts." As fences encase the construction zone and heavy machinery move into the landscape, Johnson’s future is left uncertain. His only view is towards the wide Arizonian desert, and only the sands of time will determine whether his work will remain.      
Sara Polsky reports for Curbed.
Developer DDG is increasingly prolific, with 41 Bond, 345 Meatpacking, and Soho's former chocolate factory under its belt. Now the firm is moving on to two triangular Tribeca parking lots, between White and Franklin streets on Sixth Avenue. Tribeca Citizen has already dubbed the building - just presented to Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee - the Two Triangles Building because of the shape of the lots. The proposed building, shown above, has a four-layered facade, with fritted glass, reclaimed brick, metal, and interior glazing. On the Franklin Street side, the building will come to the cornice height of neighbor 102 Franklin; on the White Street side, it will be stepped back. The penthouse will be dark so as not to be noticeable.
UPDATE: DDG reps sent along the above clearer rendering of the project. The building is tentatively slated to have 11 residential units and retail space.
Of course, the CB had some questions about that penthouse >>
One of the subcommittee's main concerns when architect Peter Guthrie presented the plan was whether the building would "turn into a big black box at night" because of the fritted glass and the dark penthouse. Neighbors also wondered about the safety of neighboring buildings still doing repairs from Hurricane Sandy and about the amount of light that would be left in the air shaft between buildings once DDG's project is completed. DDG has a few other plans for the building's exterior: potted street trees (which require MTA approval, according to Tribeca Citizen) and cables with ivy on them along the facade.  The Glassy New Building Coming to Sixth Ave. [Tribeca Citizen]
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed.   JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group acquired the Steinway Building, and, more importantly, its 45,000 square feet of air rights, for $46 million [correction: they spent $217.8 million—$131.5 million for the land lease and $46.3 million for the building itself, and an additional $40 million for a neighboring site] back in March. Six months later, they announced that instead of building a super tall, super skinny tower designed by Cetra/Ruddy, they would be building a super-duper-tall, super skinny tower designed by frequent collaborators SHoP Architects. The tower will be 1,350 feet tall, way taller than neighboring Tower of Babel One57 (1,004 feet), but not quite as tall as 432 Park (1,396 feet). JDS and PMG also backed a successful effort to make Steinway Hall an interior landmark (and will embark on a meticulous restoration), possibly in an attempt to curry favor with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, to whom they presented the plans for the tower this morning.
JDS and PMG could actually build an as-of-right 1,350-foot tower at the street front without Landmarks Commission approval, but have elected instead to set the building back, deferring somewhat to the landmarked Steinway Building but also necessitating the demolition of a back portion of that building. The proposed tower would also exist partially on the landmark site, giving the LPC the power to review the whole thing. For the most part, the Commission took no issue with the proposal, although a few had qualms about minor aspects—the height of the glass street wall, for example, or the question of how much of the tower was on the landmark site and how much wasn't—that prevented the building from being approved...yet. However, every commissioner but one expressed the opinion that the building itself was basically worth approval on the merit of its impressive design. The lone dissenter, commissioner Margery Perlmutter, was confused by the willingness of her fellow commissioners to sign off so readily on the partial demolition of an individual landmark, and criticized the "cynicism" of some of her colleagues, saying, "We're looking at this 'for the good of the city' as if there's no other place to build a tower." Despite Perlmutter's objections, it seems more than likely that the plans, with a few minor tweaks, will be approved next time they are presented to the Landmarks Commission.
Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed.   A pretty special townhouse on West 11th Street, which might not be long for this world if permits for a new building are approved, is famous for two things: one incendiary; the other adorable. First came the dynamite. Number 18 was the site of a rather infamous 1970 explosion at the hand of leftist group Weather Underground; one of the homeowner's daughters was involved in building and accidentally detonating a pipe bomb designed for the Columbia campus that went off too early. It shook the quiet, quaint block and left ruin and rubble behind on the lot. Then architect Hugh Hardy bought the land and designed the unique angular façade we know today. All jagged and modernist, Hardy negotiated his plan past community opposition to approval. But he ultimately decided not to live there—instead requiring the new owners, the Langworthy family, to carry out his plans. Here, the backstory proceeds to the cute phase.
Paddington Bear's home on 11th Street, and why it's at risk >>
The now-late Norma Langworthy would place a Paddington Bear stuffed animal in the window of her home, changing his costume according to the season and holidays; when she died in early 2012, he donned a black suit in her memory. A fixture of the neighborhood, he disappeared when the house got put on the market and, eventually, sold for $9.25 million. After all that, Jeremiah's Vanishing NY learned that the quirky landmark might be at risk. DOB permits have been filed to erect a new four-story, single-family residence on the site. Though permission hasn't yet been granted, and the owner's identity is shrouded behind a mysterious LLC, the applicant of record named in the DOB papers is a lesson in continuity: H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Their e-mailed statement from this morning, when asked for more details or renderings: "[T]he house does have a new owner. We are still working out scope with him so we aren't able to share anything at the moment." More details might be available at the "end of the year." Despite the lack of details about the proposed building, a West Village block association is worried about what might result. An e-mail forwarded to Vanishing NY says: "Local and other preservation groups are considering what position they will take on this application to demolish an existing structurally sound townhouse which was twice found to be appropriate for the Landmark District and which has been part of the built environment for almost four decades. The underlying policy questions have significant implications for the landmarking process in general and the Greenwich Village Historic District in particular." The story of 18 West 11th Street: from a Gold Coast-style townhouse that was the birthplace of poet James Merrill to a hard-won modernist home once considered an eyesore, then beloved by the neighborhood, to a big question mark.
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. When Brooklyn hostel owner Juan Figueroa purchased the Williamsburgh Savings Bank for $4.5 million in 2010, the rumor was that he planned to convert the historic bank building into a hotel. That would have been difficult, though, since the structure is an exterior, interior, and national landmark. The actual plan, it turned out, was to meticulously restore it and turn it into an event space and banquet hall, and place a 40-story hotel right next door. Now, after two and a half years and an additional $18.5 million of work, the restoration part of the project is nearing completion (the hotel is still in the process of looking for funding), and we got inside to take some pictures of the transformed space. According to Carlos Perez San Martin, Figueroa's cousin and the project manager, the bank was a complete wreck before the restoration began. The oculus skylight from the 6,500-square-foot main room had been in storage for 75 years and was in a state of complete disrepair. Three quarters of the mosaic marble flooring was missing or unsalvageable. Walls were covered with multiple layers of white paint, the woodwork with a sickly shade of green, and the intricate mural on the inside of one of the two domes—one of the last known murals by architect/designer Peter B. White—was so covered in dirt that parts of it appeared black.
In order to clean a century's worth of grime off the walls and ceiling, the restoration team used a special latex product, which is applied and then peeled off, as Perez San Martin put it, "like waxing for ladies." What couldn't be saved was replicated, to exacting standards. The replacement mosaic marble flooring for the main room (the salvageable 25 percent was moved to the restrooms) was quarried in Italy, then shipped to Lebanon, where every piece was hand cut. The floors in the smaller rooms are Victorian-style encaustic tiles from the same quarry in England that had supplied the original construction. Every door hinge and piece of hardware (25 percent original), each bearing the original bank logo, was cast in bronze. The wallpaper patterns—different in every room—are all original designs by Peter B. White.
Two complete original elements are the Napoleon III-era bank vault door, with a coin bearing the face of the first French president embedded in the center, and the Otis bird-cage elevator, one of only three remaining in New York City. Replacing all of the building's mechanicals was another huge undertaking. The space will be heated by four miles of serpentine tubing below the floor, and cooled by around 20 room-sized AC units in the basement. The lower level, which currently houses a woodworking studio for the restoration team, is slated to become a gallery for local artists at some point down the road—but not when the event space opens late this year or early next year. They're also renaming the building Weylin B. Seymor, for some weird reason.
Julie Strickland reports for The Real Deal. From left: Andre Balazs and JFK's TWA terminal From left: Andre Balazs and JFK’s TWA terminal Hotelier Andre Balazs has been tapped to develop the historic TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, to be called the Standard, Flight Center. The terminal is to be overhauled and turned into a hotel and conference center with food and beverage, retail space, a spa, fitness center, meeting facilities and a flight museum. Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the terminal, confirmed that the agency is only talking with Balazs. “The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of [architect Eero Saarinen’s] iconic design and to continuing to work with [Balazs Properties] on a plan to transform the historic TWA Flight Center into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area,” Foye told the New York Post. Balazs did not give the Post a time frame for the project. The hotelier’s Standard brand has been actively wheeling and dealing lately, with plans to create a beach club venue at Pier 57 and 15th Street, as well as a search for buyers for his Standard High Line hotel.
Hiten Samtani reports for The Real Deal Michael Stern (inset), a rendering of 107 West 57th Street (Credit: SHoP Architects). and Kevin Maloney (inset) Michael Stern (inset), a rendering of 107 West 57th Street (Credit: SHoP Architects) and Kevin Maloney (inset) Michael Stern’s JDS Development and Property Markets Group are planning a skinny skyscraper condominium on West 57th Street which will be 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building and even soar over Gary Barnett’s One57. The joint venture submitted plans last month to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission that call for a roughly 1,350-foot building that, akin to a series of steps, sets back from the street as it rises higher, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is still unclear if the venture has obtained financing for the project, to be located at 107 West 57th Street. A JDS spokesman declined to comment on the financing to the newspaper, but said that the developer was looking to break ground early next year. Stern purchased the West 57th Street in 2012, and was initially planning a building of under 700 feet. Earlier this year, he and his partners opted to up the project’s scale by buying additional air rights from a nearby property and by buying a neighboring building, as The Real Deal reported. The venture has dished out over $250 million on acquisitions for the project, the newspaper added. The planned tower would be covered with bronze-and-white terra-cotta stripes, Vishaan Chakrabarti of SHoP Architects, who is designing the building, told the newspaper. The lot is just 43-feet wide, so many of the floors would be only 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, Chakrabarti added. Stern is best known for his Walker Tower condo conversion project in Chelsea. He recently sold his Gowanus luxury rental project at 202 8th Street to Werber Management for $37.75 million, as The Real Deal reported.  
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529 Broadway plans revealed: PHOTOS

Adam Pincus reports for The Real Deal. Cayre, Sutton, Sitt, Adjmi propose six-story retail building at Soho site. A rendering of the Broadway façade of 529 Broadway A detail of the proposed tiling around the windows Rendering of the Spring Street Façade with neighboring buildings A detail of the Spring Street façade Rendering of 529 Broadway looking north on Broadway A detail of an upper floor corner window at the Broadway and Spring intersection A rendering of the Spring Street façade A 1934 photo of the former Prescott House hotel, built in 1853   A group of high-powered investors that includes Bobby Cayre and Jeff Sutton is planning to clear the lot at 529 Broadway in Soho and put up an eye-catching six-story retail building that resembles a hotel that stood there in the mid-1800s, The Real Deal has learned exclusively. The site, at the intersection of Broadway and Spring Street, has a two-story commercial building from 1935. The developers want to replace it with a 34,000-square-foot, glass-and-brick structure that has window details adapted from the Prescott House, an 1853 hotel demolished during the Great Depression. TRD filed a request with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the application, which has not been published before. The panel must approve the plans first because the location is in the Soho Cast Iron Historic District. The developers filed the LPC paperwork, prepared by BKSK Architects and preservation consultants Higgins Quasenbarth & Partners, within the past two weeks. They filed city Department of Buildings plans in July for a six-story structure with just over 34,000 square feet, TRD reported. The new application includes a series of photographs and illustrations of the Prescott House as well as neighboring buildings to put the new design in context. The proposal updates several of the hotel’s window motifs into a modern design, which morphs and twists along the Spring Street façade from a more traditional look on the western portion to an angular and sleeker finish at the corner with Broadway. The developers’ tight control over their application reveals the sensitive nature of the city’s development review process, which in this case involves a presentation to the local community board as well as the LPC. The project is on the agenda for the LPC’s Sept. 10 hearing. Cayre, who is leading the development process, declined both to comment, and to provide digital versions of the images in the slideshow accompanying this article; TRD photographed the images. The developers — Cayre, head of Aurora Capital Associates; Sutton, president of Wharton Properties; Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities; and the Adjmi family — acquired the building in 2012 for $147.9 million, a record for a Soho retail property.
Lisa Santoro reports for Curbed New York. big CSBnow_8_13    big 031-ansonia3-1910 Banking and commerce are integral to the city's livelihood, so it's no wonder that New York City's banking institutions are designed to look important. This is certainly the case with Central Savings Bank, which stands out even among the noteworthy classical structures that are its neighbors. The building is easily accessible to the public and warrants a closer look. The Central Savings Bank (currently Apple Bank), located at 2100-2108 Broadway at West 73rd Street, was built between 1926 and 1928 by the architecture firm of York & Sawyer. The bank had been founded in 1859 and was originally known as The German Savings Bank in the City of New York, with its first location inside the Cooper Union building. Just five years later, in 1864, the bank would move a bit uptown to Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, eventually occupying a new bank building that was constructed in 1872. Decades later, during World War I, the bank changed its name to "Central Savings Bank." Though the name change may have been due to anti-German sentiment, the bank continued to flourish and the trustees banked (sorry) on the Upper West Side's business and residential development and chose to open an uptown branch. York and Sawyer was an obvious choice for the new building. In addition to both working for the prolific firm of McKim, Mead and White, York and Sawyer were experienced in designing other noteworthy banking institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Liberty Street and the Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street. The Central Savings Bank commission would be especially stately given its unique location atop a trapezoidal lot adjacent to Verdi Square. With the latitude to design a building free from the confines of adjacent structures, and complemented by nearby open space, the designers were able to create a unique, iconic structure. big CSBdoor_8_13 That structure was a six-story freestanding building designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Constructed of rusticated limestone, the building was adorned with decoration that would in fact be very fitting for a palazzo. This included the two lions surrounding the clock above the main entrance, cartouches featuring the heads of classical figures and shields containing the caduceus motif and two snakes ensnarled around a staff—which has become the modern symbol of commerce and negotiation. In addition, the exterior features stunning wrought iron doors, gates, grilles and lanterns designed by Samuel Yellin, considered the country's master iron craftsman during the 1920s. The building is still not as highly decorated and elaborate as its Parisian-inspired neighbors to the south, the Ansonia and the Dorilton, but is instead serious and refined. The building stands like an imposing fortress, exuding strength and stability, qualities that very much befit a financial institution. And the building is even more majestic inside. Upon initial entry, the visitor is transported into the cavernous and vaulted main banking hall, in which the building's tall arched windows provide natural light. The 65-foot coffered ceiling is based on the ceiling of Florence's Davanzati Palace. The main hall also showcases Yellin's interior ironwork, specifically the bank screens, grilles, mailboxes and signs. And don't forget to look down, or you might miss the intricate multi-colored marble floor, which has sustained nearly ninety years of wear. CSBinterior_8_13-thumb The bank's executive offices located on the mezzanine level are also highly stylized. According to Christopher Gray, the offices were "decorated by the Barnet Phillips Company" and "included double-height meeting rooms with large fireplaces flanked by iron torcheres, beamed ceilings, wooden paneling and elaborate faux wall painting with imitation garlands and spirals of fabric." In order to make some profit from the large building, the upper floors were designed to be rental office space. And although these offices on the upper floors are considered plain and less decorative than the rest of the building, there is elegance in their simple design. These offices feature "solid metal doors with inset panels and an upper section of frosted glass," brass signboards and "walls wainscoted with marble." The Central Savings Bank stands as a monument to commerce, consumerism and finance. Through its design, the building fosters a sense of safety and security—a prime example of how architecture can be emblematic of its building's purpose and function. The architects sought to create a building in which people would be comfortable investing and depositing their hard-earned money. And what better way to represent strength, stability and success than to have the bank designed in the style of a Renaissance palazzo? The words spoken at the bank's 75th anniversary in 1934 still ring true: "The Central Savings Bank is housed in truly a noble building, its lofty interior and its massive exterior typifying all that the Bank has represented in the past—all that the future may bring to us in the way of health and happiness."