Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LW! Blog

Thank you for visiting LANDMARK WEST!'s blog! 

Our blog has moved to our brand-new website. 
Please click here to go to our new blog, or visit landmarkwest.org/blog 
  
See you soon!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Born a Landmark?


While buildings in NYC seem to come and go--and with increasing expedience--it is very rare for major alterations to take place within an historic district.  The Upper West Side has 12 such districts, and when word first came of demolition plans, our Certificate of Appropriateness Committee was guarded.
The West End Collegiate School had announced plans to relocate to Freedom Place in Riverside South, thus vacating their campus on West 78th Street.  The West End Collegiate Church (Robert W. Gibson, 1892-3) and adjoining original school building, individual landmarks outside of the district West End Collegiate Historic District Extension scooped up the buildings to create a lot merger and hoped to redevelop the sites as a residential venture.  Understanding their long-standing significant role as stewards of their congregation and as long-time UWS neighbors, they sought a proposal that would serve everyone's interests, and with architect Rick Cook and his team, put forth a proposal that Landmarks Commissioner John Gustaffson recognized as one that was not extreme, "not excessive, not unnecessary, and not bloated".

The process, which was approved yesterday, will entail restoring 378 West End Avenue, a former apartment hotel, converted by the school to educational uses back to residential.  This will bring back wood frame windows, complete the cornice crest and recreate lost balconettes and entry doors.  It would also entail demolishing the 1965-67 Ballard Todd Associates Platen Hall which received a 1990 topper by Helpern Architects.  The new proposal creates a cascading residence that holds its own on 78th street, but wraps the Schwartz and Gross 378 WEA building and provides a backdrop to the Gibson church, illuminating it in the process.

LANDMARK WEST! was supportive in our testimony as were many of the other advocacy groups.  Even House of Representatives Congressman Jerrold Nadler wrote in support of the project.  The LPC approved the proposal which creates and interesting technicality.  This building, fully within the district will be literally built as a landmark.  Almost like being born into royalty, its presence in the district will afford it all of the protections of the Landmarks Preservation Commission under the law.

The COOKFOX design has staying power and looks to be a great anchor for the site, both as foreground and background building.  The West End Collegiate School will stay on site into 2018 before demolition begins.  We will keep you posted as the project progresses.  Proceeds of the project will go to endow the church and fund a restoration of the original Robert W. Gibson buildings.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's not every day the mail brings a letter from a four-star U.S. General...


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Gene A. Norman testifying in 1984 to protect the NYC Landmarks Law.
Credit: Albany Press, January 1984

It's not every day the mail brings a letter from a four-star U.S. General...
let alone a former Secretary of State!


Do join us for this well-deserved tribute to 
former Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair

Gene A. Norman

Monday, December 14, 2015
6:00 to 8:00 pm
      
Landmark on the Park
Fourth Universalist Society

76th Street and Central Park West
                                  
For ticket prices and online reservations, 
please visit Eventbrite

LANDMARK WEST! 45 WEST 67 STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10023


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Run with LW! United Airlines NYC Half Marathon


NYRR

LANDMARK WEST! is an Official Charity Partner for the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon! We have received five entries in the Half-Marathon and we want you to run with us to support LW! and our mission: to promote awareness of the Upper West Side’s special character and to cultivate civic pride around priceless historic treasures. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrating former Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Gene A. Norman


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Gene A. Norman testifying in 1984 to protect the NYC Landmarks Law.
Credit: Albany Press, 1984.

In 1988, Gene presided over a 16-hour marathon public hearing at the Fourth 
Universalist Society, which led to the 1990 designation of over 2,000 buildings 
in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District.

Please join
LANDMARK WEST!
for a very special evening
to celebrate former
Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair
Gene A. Norman
 
the *25th Anniversary of the
Upper West Side/Central Park West
Historic District
and the 30th Anniversary of
LANDMARK WEST!

Monday, December 14, 2015
6:00 to 8:00 pm
 
Landmark on the Park
Fourth Universalist Society

76th Street and Central Park West
For ticket prices and online reservations, 
please visit Eventbrite
LANDMARK WEST! 45 WEST 67 STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10023


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Exploring the Lettering of the Upper West Side


Enjoy a beautiful fall weekend outdoors! 
Join LW! for a walking tour with typography expert
Alexander Tochilovsky*
 
The Texture of the City: Exploring the Lettering of the Upper West Side


November 22, 11am-1pm

$15 for LW! members**; $25 for non-members; $10 students


The Upper West Side's architectural masterpieces that contribute to New York City's most fascinating layers are further textured by intriguing signage and hidden inscriptions. Even the most ordinary buildings have a variety of signs and lettering that reveal the most interesting details.  Alexander Tochilovsky,* an educator and curator at The Cooper Union, will walk us through the neighborhood with a unique lens that focuses on an artistic layer of the Upper West Side and how this texture informs building history and architecture.



*Currently an educator and curator at The Cooper Union School of Art, Alexander Tochilovsky received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from The Cooper Union and his Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art's 2D Design department. In 2010, he was named Curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography. He is a graphic designer with expertise in typography.

**Membership has its privileges... did you know that LW! supporters enjoy discounted admission to all of our public programs? Please contact us to check your membership status and reserve your spot(s) today. Looking forward to seeing you soon!


LANDMARK WEST!

45 WEST 67 STREET

NEW YORK, NY 10023

(212) 496-8110

landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Central Park West Skyline: Potential Futures



The urgent need to study Central Park West emerged out of a series of proposals to alter the avenue’s iconic skyline—the primary “face” the West Side presents to the rest of the city—and change the character of the parkside rowhouse midblocks.  These proposals included development schemes put forward by Congregation Shearith Israel and the New-York Historical Society (both Individual Landmarks also included in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District).

Architect and historian Robert A.M. Stern called buildings like these "…a chain of monumental gateways to the West Side…a testament to the low-scale Classical urbanism of the City Beautiful movement." (letter dated January 13, 1984)  

Community Board 7, former City Planning Commission General Counsel Norman Marcus, and zoning consultant Gerald George were indispensable advisors, together with the scores of individual donors who recognized the relevance of anticipating—and potentially shaping—development before it hits the pages of the New York Times.

Back in 2007 when this study began, LW! challenged the idea that our neighborhood was immune to overdevelopment merely as a result of extensive landmark designation and contextual zoning.  Clearly, through special permit and variance processes, developers could find ways to "unlock" the development potential of the Upper West Side. 

As midtown "mega-towers" begin their creep up the West Side and Mayor de Blasio pushes plans to raise height limits, the potential for inappropriate development along Central Park West is greater than ever.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Protect the future of Gansevoort Street


In 2001, a New York which seems to have existed an eternity ago, a much different New York Times addressed a much different Gansevoort Street in what was then a running column called "One Street at a Time".  Author Michael Cunningham described the stretch as "a dark and melancholy beauty, [which] runs its modest course from east to west in downtown Manhattan's desolate riverfront neighborhood and empties into the opaque waters of the Hudson.  It was for most of its life, merely remote and sinister; it is now remote, sinister, and fashionable" today one could easily argue it is choice (d) none of the above.  

With portions designated a Historic District in 2003, the Landmarks Preservation Commission deemed this collection of buildings to have a unique character and sense of place worth preserving.  A new proposal by BKSK Architects would seek to alter an entire row of the districts edge- one full block and either alter, or completely eradicate the century-old structures to replace them with 122 feet of vertical development.  There are of course, times when alterations to landmarks are appropriate but assembling a full block within a known historic district should not be carte blanche to start from scratch.

LANDMARK WEST! is joining with the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation in challenging this proposal set to appear before the LPC on Tuesday, November 10th.  Please join us and show your support by signing their petition for 46-72 Gansevoort Street.

Text of the message which will directly reach Mayor de Blasio and LPC Chair Srinivasan is as follows:

I strongly urge you to reject the proposed redevelopment of 46-74 Gansevoort Street or any proposal resembling it.  The current plan would fundamentally transform and destroy the qualities which make the Gansevoort Market Historic District what it is, and should be sent back to the drawing board.

The massive scale of the proposed new buildings and additions and the demolition of existing structures would overwhelm this charming cobblestone street which forms a gateway to the Meatpacking District, the West Village, the High Line, the Whitney Museum, and the Hudson River Park.  To allow such a dramatic compromise of the scale and historic qualities of this block at the heart of this historic district would destroy the entire purpose and meaning of landmark designation.

Please reject this proposal.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coming Up: Preservation 101, Walking Tour, & More!

Displaying
View of 302 Columbus Avenue, originally a branch of the J.M. Horton Ice Cream Company

Quite a few landmark events & programs are coming your way in November! Keep reading below for more information and contact LW! to make sure your membership** is up to date to receive discounts to our programs.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry
A Book Talk with Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Paul Goldberger
November 4, 7pm at Macaulay Honors College (35 West 67th Street)
Free and open to the public

The @Macaulay Author Series invites you to an evening with Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Paul Goldberger as he discusses and reads from his book Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, a brilliant exploration of Gehry's life and career. The talk will be followed by an interview with Wall Street Journal architecture columnist and author Julie Iovine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 


Continuing Education: "Preservation 101"
Full-day workshop ideal for real estate professionals, earn 7.5 hours M11987 
November 17, 8:30am-5pm at Telepan Restaurant (72 West 69th Street, NYC)
$100 for LW! members; $125 for non-members

The more you know about historic buildings, the easier it is to sell them!  This seminar is designed for brokers who buy and sell properties in historic districts.  Expert speakers will discuss the history of development of the Upper West Side, working with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, and regulatory aspects of living in a landmark building and historic district.  The day will end with a walking tour of the neighborhood led by Professor Andrew S. Dolkart. 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The Texture of the City: Exploring the Lettering of the Upper West Side
 A Walking Tour with Typography Expert Alexander Tochilovsky
November 22, 11am-1pm
$15 for LW! members; $25 for non-members; $10 students  


The Upper West Side's architectural masterpieces that contribute to New York City's most fascinating layers are further textured by intriguing signage and hidden inscriptions. Even the most ordinary buildings have a variety of signs and lettering that reveal the most interesting details.  Alexander Tochilovsky,* an educator and curator at The Cooper Union, will walk us through the neighborhood with a unique lens that focuses on an artistic layer of the Upper West Side and how this texture informs building history and architecture.


*Currently an educator and curator at The Cooper Union School of Art, Alexander Tochilovsky received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from The Cooper Union and his Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art's 2D Design department.  In 2010, he was named Curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography. He is a graphic designer with expertise in typography.

**Membership has its privileges... did you know that LW! supporters enjoy discounted admission to all of our public programs? Please contact us to check your membership status and reserve your spot(s) today. Looking forward to seeing you soon!


LANDMARK WEST!

45 WEST 67 STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10023
(212) 496-8110

BFJ Comments on Zoning for Quality and Affordability

LANDMARK WEST! asked BFJ Planning to review Mayor De Blasio's City Planning proposals "Zoning for Quality and Affordability" and "Mandatory Inclusionary Housing".  Click here for a copy of their full critique.

Below are some of their key findings:

Both ZQA and MIH affect the whole city and raise the question as to why the administration is not pursuing a more deliberative process for a zoning initiative that purports to address the important issue of creating affordable housing.

It would seem not only prudent but good government to engage in more careful analysis of these proposals rather than to discover once it is a "done deal" that many unintended consequences or collateral damage has resulted.

The initiative itself is city-wide and raises the question of whether "one size fits all." ...the Upper West Side is a neighborhood that will be more greatly impacted by these proposals than others.

The impact of these changes will affect more than the height or bulk of buildings. It will ultimately result in new development that could eliminate existing affordable housing and small businesses through rising rents.

ZQA and MIH set proposed building density and height changes on a collision course with not only contextual zoning district protections, but also landmark and historic district protections.

The proposed amendments would impact CB7 with height (up to 40 feet) and FAR [square footage] (averaging 20 percent) increases that are far above technical adjustments. Instead, they present much more substantial height and density increases.

ZQA effectively erases differences in allowable heights between wide and narrow streets.

ZQA would allow encroachment into the rear yard. Extensions of buildings are not desirable as a matter of public health, safety and quality of life.

ZQA exempts affordable housing from the Sliver Rules that limit the heights of buildings on lots less than 45 feet wide. This may encourage the demolition of existing, relatively small, residential buildings that contain dwelling units that are currently affordable. In addition, it may result in new, narrow buildings that are significantly taller than their neighbors and out of character with their built context.

[Special permit and variance processes] may lead to developments that enjoy increased bulk and density without providing the promised affordable housing.

Testimony in Support of the Designation of the IRT Powerhouse & St. Michael's Episcopal Church Complex


In preparation for the November 5 & 12, 2015 Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearings, we have received many written statements in support of designating the former Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Powerhouse and the St. Michael's Episcopal Church complex, including letters from Professor Andrew S. Dolkart, included below.
We hope that you will join us at the LPC on Thursday, November 5, starting at 9:00am, for a special public hearing on the former Interborough Rapid Transit Powerhouse and on Thursday, November 12, starting at 9:00am, for a special public hearing on the St. Michael's Episcopal Church complex.









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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Time is Running Out for NYC!


Displaying
111 West 57th Street by SHoP Architects (under construction); one of 13 developments planned or in construction along Central Park South.  It is happening here... and everywhere!
Let's cut to the chase.

Please sign this petition, New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City, and please add your individual name, or your organization's* name, to the growing list of co-sponsors endorsing the petition.  The list is long because it strikes a chord in every neighborhood throughout all five boroughs of New York City.  

This petition may not be perfect.  What single, straightforward document on any complex issue is?  But it is the result of a broad-based coalition of often unheard voices on the unprecedented and focused assault on our neighborhoods, landmarks, small businesses, parks, playgrounds, sunshine, shadows, and quality of life.  The evidence of this assault is all around us, and exploding -- 100 story towers, plans to increase height limits all over NYC, attempts to gut our 50-year-old Landmarks Law, shedding civic institutions, closing libraries and schools, rising rents and public parkland giveaways -- all in the name of Mayor de Blasio's untenable "affordable housing" scheme.  

The real beneficiary = plain greed.

Let's park our collective cynicism -- what good will another petition do?  First, this isn't just another petition.  It is uniquely broad, multi-borough-based, and unusually direct and finger-pointing. No time for a massive group edit or letting the perfect be the enemy of the necessary.  Please sign now.  Tomorrow may be too late.  This petition provides space to add your personal comments -- fire away!

Finally, if not now, when?  We must focus, and press, and this petition is a good start.

Make sure to watch Bill Moyers powerful PBS program, The Long Dark Shadows of Plutocracy, shown Nov. 28, 2014.

*Neighborhood groups, block associations, community boards, etc!

If you find the petition asks for too much personal information, email us with your name and LANDMARK WEST! will make sure your support is registered.   

LANDMARK WEST!
45 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023