Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preservation in action :: LW! testifies at design review public hearing

As reported by Mei Tuggle, LW! intern and NYU student

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reviewed 150 West 77th Street’s application to construct a rear yard addition and to alter its basement entrance.  LANDMARK WEST!’s Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) Committee not only found the proposal to construct a double-door entrance historically inappropriate, but also found the entire application to alter one of architect Gilbert Schellenger’s Renaissance Revival rowhouses excessively confusing and incomplete. And so did the LPC!

After hearing testimony from LANDMARK WEST!, the Historic Districts Council and neighbors, the LPC directed questions to the applicant.  Significant information was lacking in the presentation, and the LPC needed some answers: regarding the rear yard extension, did the applicant propose reconstructing the existing bay window, or mere replication?  What material was proposed? To what extent would original historic fabric be reused, if at all?

In addition, LW! testimony pointed out that "sacrificing an entire façade of historic building fabric for the sake of three feet of interior space" is wasteful and inappropriate.  Further, our C of A committee called for a renewed review by Community Board 7, noting that "the context of the proposed rear yard addition as presented to the community and as voted on by both the Community Board 7 (CB7) Parks & Preservation Committee and its Full Board was inaccurate. The appropriateness of the proposal was being evaluated in relation to a building façade that does not, in fact, exist."  This seemed to resonate strongly with the Commissioners, as they concurred that such a case rendered CB7’s decision inaccurate.

In the end, the LPC took no action (just as LW! recommended!).The applicant was instructed to supply the LPC with renderings of the proposed rear yard addition.

PHOTOS: Top: Rear facade of 150 West 77th Street as presented to CB7; Bottom: Rear facade as presented to the LPC.

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