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The latest news on New York architecture.

  • A Win for New Yorkers Trying to Save Tin Pan Alley

    A Win for New Yorkers Trying to Save Tin Pan Alley

    Tin Pan Alley is once again making its way into the hearts of Americans now that plans to build a high rise in its place have fallen through. After the Tin Pan Alley was put up for sale in the fall of 2018 for $44 million, the plan to redevelop the area fell through due to economic turmoil. The historical value and landmark status of these buildings have pushed them back into the spotlight and ignited many New Yorkers' desire to preserve their culture.

    American Culture Revisited

    Tin Pan Alley initially began as an influential residential area and reinvented itself as the spot to set up shop in the entertainment or music industry. Many careers began on these streets some of whose efforts would go on to support Americans through two World Wars and several presidential terms. Thomas Edison's motion picture company even boasted an office on this iconic avenue. Printers, composers, singers, songwriters, and even journalists called this place home for years.

    Notes of the Past

    Throughout the late 1880s and into the 1950s our country's songwriters thrived in this community. Piano tunes and various broadcasts could be heard up and down the road competing for attention. Local journalists nicknamed the area Tin Pan Alley referencing the competing piano tunes throughout the day and night.

    Tin Pan Alley’s musical history contains great songs such as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" by Jack Norwood and "Give My Regards to Broadway" by George M. Cohan. These iconic pieces were penned within these buildings, and it seems fitting that preserving these buildings protects a rich history that is unique to the streets of New York and to the founders and artists of a bygone era.

    A Win for the Tin

    On March 12, 2019 the Landmarks Preservation Commission calendared five buildings on Tin Pan Alley; 47, 49, 51, 53 and 55 West 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Ave. The Commission will research the history of these buildings and determine whether they will be eligible for landmark designation based on a combination of historical, cultural, and architectural significance.

    Back in the Spotlight

    The new focus on this area has presented the history of these remaining buildings in a unique, personal light for both the residents and New York City’s musical culture in general. Recognizing the value of these buildings and their place in history represents the core values of our city and our culture.

    Contact Scott Henson Architect to learn more about the preservation, restoration, and repairs necessary to protect these landmarks and other buildings with significant historical value.

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  • The Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Ave NYC to Be Demolished

    The Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Ave NYC to Be Demolished

    In recent years growth has been slowing down and businesses are leaving Midtown East. Many of the buildings there are considered inefficient, out of date and, until very recently, limited in how they could be updated or modified to contain more commercial office space. After several years of work by city planners, development experts, preservation professionals, and other stakeholders, new zoning has been approved for Midtown Manhattan, allowing for big changes.

    The Midtown East area is home to many large office buildings designed in the International Style, a type of modernist commercial architecture that was intended to support a socially progressive agenda of "better, cleaner, and more egalitarian" cities. The style is known for its lack of ornamentation and structural glass. One well-known building, the Union Carbide building owned by JP Morgan Chase Bank, is now scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt anew.

    In 2012 the Union Carbide building underwent a sustainability upgrade that gave it the highest LEED rating of any building to date. Despite the fact that this was the largest renovation ever to receive a platinum rating, JP Morgan Chase Bank is looking to increase the commercial office space available inside. The building currently has space for 6,000 employees, while the newly proposed building is said to include space for 15,000.

    There is debate among architects and preservationists whether this building, of the several in the International Style in the local area, is significant in the history of modernist architecture. It is the opinion of the stakeholders is that there are other buildings of modern architecture in this district that are more significant, and this building can be demolished so a taller building can be built in its place. Many argue that the demolition of this building is irresponsible, as it will be the largest voluntary building demolition in the world.

    The decision to demolish has been made, so the debate now for those involved will center around the unique challenges of demolition in a crowded urban space that is still an active commercial zone. There are issues of solid waste disposal and the potential for reuse of many of the structural building materials. New processes will need to be developed to safely bring down large areas of structural glass and steel. Hazardous materials that were standard for buildings in 1960 will need to be safely sequestered.

    This demolition will provide the construction industry a great deal of information on how to safely bring down the old skyscrapers, and how to manage the materials and solid waste that results.

    Part of the new zoning includes needed upgrades to transportation infrastructure and public spaces in the area. These upgrades will be included in the work JP Morgan Chase contracts when they design the new building.

    Can we work with you to develop plans for a historic preservation project? Please contact us for an appointment.

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