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Kris
June 17th, 2003, 09:11 AM
June 17, 2003

Landmark? Just Wait Till It's Finished

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/06/17/nyregion/17john.jpg
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is expected to be declared a landmark on Tuesday.

The news for most New Yorkers will probably be that as this day began, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was not a landmark.

Then again, given a pace of construction almost as medieval as the architecture — 111 years and counting — it seems safe to say that it will be a century or two before they put the finishing touches on the vast cathedral.

By day's end, however, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to confer landmark status on a substantially unfinished structure for the first time, in an arrangement that would allow new buildings on the grounds, a prospect that worries neighbors and preservationists.

The commission will continue to consider but not yet designate other historical structures in the cathedral compound, bordered by Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive, Cathedral Parkway and 113th Street.

Even three-fifths complete, the commission said, St. John the Divine is the largest church in the nation and the largest cathedral in the world. (The largest church in the world is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, which is not a cathedral.)

Only the exterior of St. John the Divine, the seat of the Episcopal bishop of New York, is to be considered as a landmark. By law, the commission cannot designate the interior of a religious sanctuary, even one that offers an experience akin to being in a dim and profoundly mysterious grove of Gothic sequoias.

Robert B. Tierney, the chairman of the commission, said yesterday that the designation would culminate the panel's "37-year quest to landmark the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a building with a unique place in the architectural, social and cultural history of the city and the nation."

Should the cathedral trustees ever find themselves with enough money to resume construction, they would not necessarily be compelled to follow the existing French Gothic plans by Ralph Adams Cram, Mr. Tierney said.

But he dismissed as "too speculative" the question of whether the commission might one day approve a departure as radical as the glass-enclosed biosphere designed a decade ago by Santiago Calatrava to complete the cathedral's south arm, or transept.

Until recently, the cathedral's leaders had opposed landmark status. But last year, they agreed to cooperate with a designation that would preserve development potential at the north end and southeast corner of the grounds.

The cathedral trustees are negotiating with Columbia University to build on those sites. Designs would be reviewed by a committee that includes two members appointed by the landmarks chairman. New buildings would also be governed by legal controls on their placement, height, shape and bulk.

These controls would be "very protective of the cathedral" and other existing buildings "but nonetheless allow for development at a sufficient scale to support the cathedral's mission," Robert S. Davis of Bryan Cave, the law firm that represents the cathedral, said yesterday.

"And a very important part of the cathedral's mission," he said, "is the maintenance, preservation and restoration of its historic buildings."

Many preservationists had hoped the commission would designate the entire grounds, known as the Close. "It was all built as various parts of a larger whole, and the whole should be preserved," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. "That just seems like rational preservation planning to me."

Among the notable structures on the Close are the Synod House, the Diocesan House, the Cathedral School and the 160-year-old Town Building, designed by Ithiel Town as part of the Leake & Watts Orphan Asylum, which preceded the cathedral on the land.

"The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is considered the crowning glory of the Morningside Heights neighborhood, which came to be known as `the Acropolis of the new world,' " reads a draft version of the landmark designation.

The cornerstone was laid in 1892 for a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral designed by Heins & LaFarge. In 1911, the trustees brought in Cram, America's foremost advocate of Gothic architecture, to finish the job. Still under construction, the 601-foot-long cathedral was far enough along to be dedicated on Nov. 30, 1941.

But work stopped abruptly a week later, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and did not begin again until 1979.

The south tower then began to rise toward its intended 300-foot height as journeymen from England trained local residents as stonecutters. But after it reached 200 feet, the money ran out.

A fire on Dec. 18, 2001, destroyed the gift shop, damaged the north transept and ravaged two tapestries. It seemed a crippling blow for a city staggered by the destruction of the World Trade Center.

But the cathedral managed to reopen — the smell of smoke still in the air — in time for a Christmas Eve service.


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

BrooklynRider
June 17th, 2003, 10:35 AM
Everytime I see an article on the Cathedral I hope for the slightest indication that construction will resume. *Watching and following the carving of the Central Portal was incredible. *I do hope some benefactor ponies up some dedicated (and restricted) building funds.


(Edited by BrooklynRider at 3:20 pm on June 17, 2003)

Edward
June 17th, 2003, 02:42 PM
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (http://www.wirednewyork.com/churches/st_john_divine/default.htm)

http://www.wirednewyork.com/churches/st_john_divine/images/st_john_divine_21apr02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/churches/st_john_divine/default.htm)

cityskyscrapers
June 17th, 2003, 04:14 PM
Small sculptures of NYC buildings in the facade of thes cathedral. Photos taken October 16, 2002.

http://www.oranga.com/pics/s200210162615.jpg

http://www.oranga.com/pics/s200210162616.jpg

TLOZ Link5
June 17th, 2003, 06:32 PM
Aww, aren't they cute?

Kris
June 17th, 2003, 09:38 PM
Model:

http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC_Images/076.jpg

http://www.greatgridlock.net/NYC_Images/imgentry.html

Calatrava's proposal:

http://www.thecityreview.com/byard4.gif

http://www.thecityreview.com/byard.html

NoyokA
June 17th, 2003, 09:53 PM
Caltrava is a bad architect, regardless this is one of his worst. Form follows function.

TLOZ Link5
June 17th, 2003, 10:38 PM
That looks hideous.

phxmania2001
June 17th, 2003, 11:36 PM
Quote: from TLOZ Link5 on 9:38 pm on June 17, 2003
That looks hideous.

Yeah, to do that to an office building is one thing, but to a church? *shakes head*

Jasonik
June 18th, 2003, 12:51 AM
When you look at the other great cathedral in the world still under construction, the Calatrava proposal, though exceedingly flamboyant begins to have a context. *Take a look at the Sagrada Familia (http://www.GreatBuildings.com/cgi-bin/gbi.cgi/Sagrada_Familia.html/cid_2745301.gbi) by Gaudi begun in 1882 ten years prior to St. John the Divine.

Having just finished extensive research on Cram for a school project, he worked in the gothic stye because he revered N. Europe as the center of the world -to continue the greatness on this continent. *He is responsible for the look of Princeton as well as West Point, 'Collegiate Gothic' style.

Calatrava on the other hand being from Spain, was clearly influenced by the sensuous curves of S. Europe (Bilbao is sooo sexy). *Dali and surrealism influenced the plasticity of this architecture a great deal. *I admire Calatrava for the noble belief that there is a 'contemporary eclesiastical style' for cathedrals, this may be true in Spain, but not New York.

Cram, a contemporary of Wright, was very prolific spreading the seeds of American gothicism, and like it or not when we think church, or cathedral, a decidedly gothic picture comes to mind. *On that note I concur that the cathedral should be finished in a sympathetic manner.

JerzDevl2000
June 18th, 2003, 02:59 AM
Cityskyscrapers - I nearly cried looking at the pics you took! Nice resolution...I had no idea they were there!

As for Mr. Calatrava...I've read a book on his projects with pictures and descriptions. I think he's marvelous and what he can do with lines, patterns, curves, and just playing with shapes and pushing the envelope is amazing.

However, I feel he needs to stay off of St. John the Divine. Hearst's new tower can get two architects to complete one statement, but this cathedral needs to be finished in the style and size in which it was meant to be way back when it was first started...

I wish we could have a Calatrava building in New YOrk City. Foster, Libeskind,Pelli, Koolhas, Meier, and a few names that I can't recall are making their marks here for our future. I think it's time this Spaniard did the same!

Ernest Burden III
June 18th, 2003, 11:53 AM
2003
Having just finished extensive research on Cram for a school project, he worked in the gothic stye because he revered N. Europe as the center of the world -to continue the greatness on this continent...On that note I concur that the cathedral should be finished in a sympathetic manner.


It should be noted that the Cathedral is done in two styles so far--Romanesque for the choir, alter and radiating chapels, and THEN gothic for the nave. *The original architects were a two-man team, and when one of them died, the Cathedral used that fact to get out of their contract with them. *Then they hired Cram.

About the buildings carved into the Portal of Paradise: *and just what is happening to those buildings as depicted? *You will also find Jacob's Ladder depicted as DNA. *There is some wonderful work in the portal.

I have a long history with the Cathedral--my first big commision as a renderer with my own studio was the cutaway drawing of the building that had stood on an easel by the entry door to the building for close to twenty years. *My first picture is also the one most seen.

In the late 80's I did a photographic survey of the Cathedral and grounds for a big slide show that was presented in the Crossing for the 100th aniversary of the original competition to design the Cathedral. *I am currently thinking of producing a few series of large reproductions of my favorite of the photos. *There were a few thousand to choose from, but a couple are better than the rest.

Construction on the Cathedral has always followed fundraising, and that is where my renderings have come in in the past. *I don't know what they are up to at the moment.

Jasonik
June 18th, 2003, 01:09 PM
It should be noted that the Cathedral is done in two styles so far--Romanesque for the choir, alter and radiating chapels, and THEN gothic for the nave. *The original architects were a two-man team, and when one of them died, the Cathedral used that fact to get out of their contract with them. *Then they hired Cram.

Indeed, hence the alternating sexpartite vaulting, a totally unique solution to the problem of applying gothic to a Romanesque plan. *When gothic is thought of as a system, and not just ornament, the results can be breathtaking.

Eugenius
June 18th, 2003, 02:41 PM
Quote: from Jasonik on 11:51 pm on June 17, 2003
When you look at the other great cathedral in the world still under construction, the Calatrava proposal, though exceedingly flamboyant begins to have a context. *Take a look at the Sagrada Familia (http://www.GreatBuildings.com/cgi-bin/gbi.cgi/Sagrada_Familia.html/cid_2745301.gbi) by Gaudi begun in 1882 ten years prior to St. John the Divine.
Note that Sagrada Familia also features a modernist facade (on the side opposite of the one that Gaudi finished), featuring a highly stylized Jesus. *In theory, it is possible to have a cathedral designed in two radically different architectural styles. *However, even judging by the way that only the Gaudi side of the Sagrada Familia is lit up at night, I would say that the public preference is squarely in favor of Gothic treatment.

Kris
June 18th, 2003, 09:51 PM
An incomplete office building's design can be changed, but a cathedral's is sacred? Remember that it would be the second time.

Gothic Revival is crude compared to the original in part because the medieval craft and method had been lost. Go to Ile-de-France and notice the qualitative difference and higher level of refinement. St. John the Divine is rather unremarkable besides its size and the modern themes of some of its sculptures.

A transformation by a modern master could add cachet to an otherwise boring historicist landmark. I dislike Calatrava. His extreme rationalism is anachronistic and often repels me, but there is no denying his brilliance and virtuosity. His keen interest in Gothic is not surprising given his passion for structure, which he also leaves exposed. I say give him a chance - since there's not much to lose.

Kris
June 18th, 2003, 10:08 PM
And look how tall that flèche is.

TLOZ Link5
June 18th, 2003, 10:56 PM
Looks to be about 600 feet.

Jasonik
June 19th, 2003, 12:26 AM
"The competition brief sought to complete the cathedral with designs for a biosphere at its crossing to express reverence for biological life..."
-Byard from City Review link above.

This is what Calatrava resonded to, and quite succesfully I might add. *The oranic plasticity he brings to the skeletal structure is undeniable.

I think my issue is more subtle. *The very nature of true gothic construction relies on the geometric precision of the craftsman; the human scale of this craft is inherent in the resultant structure. *Contemporary design, borne of the machine age, tends to revel in the broad gestural strokes that can be translated to physical form without much refinement. *I do not believe that Calatrava's winning design lacks refinement, but that the scale and detailing don't reference the human 'maker.' *

...scratches head...
The gigantic organism seems to be a product of nature (read God), meaningful upon reflection, just aesthetically jarring.

Ernest Burden III
June 19th, 2003, 11:20 AM
Quote: Gothic Revival is crude compared to the original in part because the medieval craft and method had been lost. Go to Ile-de-France and notice the qualitative difference and higher level of refinement.

Then go to Chartre and notice the opposite. *There is an evolution of Gothic that is natural, each stage having its representation in irreplaceable buildings.

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine is a remarkable structure as much for where it is and what it does and who it serves as any purely architectural analysis.


St. John the Divine is rather unremarkable besides its size and the modern themes of some of its sculptures.

Blasphemy!

Forget the modernism of the sculptures--there is a minora (spelling?) on the high alter, there is a monument to fallen firefighters that has been in the nave for decades, there is a place of remembrance for AIDS victims just as old, the Stoneyard Institute has saught to keep the carver's craft alive with local talent. *Remember the roles cathedrals played in the times when Notre Dame and especially Chartre were first built, and ask whether St Patrick's or St John the Divine better translate that role into the modern age.

And architecturally--each of the chapels is completly different, each a mini-marvel. *The walk behind the alter under the massive arc of columns is magnificent, ever heard the organ? *In the Gothic part you have piers rising (if memory serves) 100 feet only to vault higher still. *The loadbearing piers at the exterior walls are arranged in a major-minor-major-minor pattern--the majors have a spiral staircase cut inside them, completely unlit. *It is quite an adventure going from the roof level down to the nave floor. *In the south tower the bell space is a vast hollow many stories tall with nothing but a rusty staircase and a bird boneyard leading to a walkway OVER the vaults but inside the pitched roof. *The crypt has three big boxes set into a dirt floor with dead bishops in them. *When you are in the crypt there is a staircase that leads DOWN. *I'm not that brave.

Unremarkable?

Kris
June 19th, 2003, 09:59 PM
Yes, rather.

"Then go to Chartre and notice the opposite."

I beg your pardon?

Ernest Burden III
June 19th, 2003, 10:25 PM
Yes, rather

Some men, you just caint reach...

clearly I find ST John the Divine remarkable, clearly you do not. *To each his own.


Gothic Revival is crude compared to the original in part because the medieval craft and method had been lost. Go to Ile-de-France and notice the qualitative difference and higher level of refinement. St. John the Divine is rather unremarkable besides its size...

Your point was that high Gothic--and by the way I was confused because Notre Dame is next to Il De Cite (again my spelling in question)--what is at Il de France?
Anyway, high Gothic being more refined than the style of ST John. *Perhaps in some aspects, but I am pretty familiar with St Johns, I have rendered it several times, built a computer model and assisted the building of a large-scale physical model. *I have climbed just about every part of it. *I find it very refined in detail and execution. *I have also visited Chartre and observed the simplified forms on the piers, their caps and butresses. *You look at it and see how those simpler forms evolved into what is seen in later cathedrals. *That is to be expected for a building that pre-dates the masterpieces of high Gothic and even later Gothic revival by centuries. *The people that built the later ones also went to see Chartre. *Have you?

I am not an architectural historian, not even trained in architecture. *But I draw it every day and have for close to 25 years, working with many of the firms you people talk about frequently on this forum. *So I'm not suggesting I know more about this stuff than anyone else here, *I just happen to be partial to St. John the Divine. *Can you tell?

czsz
June 26th, 2003, 03:55 AM
Ile-de-France is the region of France in which Paris and its suburbs are situated.

I would be partial to a more modernist design for the cathedral's completion, but moreso if that design were rather more respectful of the original portion's masonary elements. Calatrava's proposal seems too radical.

Kris
June 27th, 2003, 06:35 AM
June 27, 2003

Big Buildings Planned on Grounds of St. John the Divine

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

The next crane you see on the grounds of St. John the Divine will not be there to complete the cathedral.

Instead, large new buildings are planned on each end of the 11.3-acre grounds in Morningside Heights, under a development framework agreed on last week by the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine and the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The developer will probably be Columbia University.

The agreement coincided with the designation of the Episcopal cathedral as an official landmark. It establishes three-dimensional bulk controls, called envelopes, within which construction can occur without further approval by the commission, although the panel will have two representatives on an 11-member design review board.

Roughly two-thirds of each envelope could be filled with a structure. One building, overlooking Morningside Park, might be 20 stories tall, rivaling the nearby 424 Cathedral Parkway tower.

The volumes suggest buildings that would have a total of nearly 700,000 square feet of floor area, though the amount could be much less, depending in part on whether the buildings are residential or institutional. Even 700,000 square feet falls far short of the theoretical zoning potential for the entire site.

But the prospect of new structures on the cathedral grounds, known as the Close, has sounded alarms.

"Let's try to imagine the French allowing a building that would block views of Notre Dame," said Joyce Hackett, a novelist and the president of Morningside Heights Neighbors, a community group.

According to the agreement, the cathedral will use substantially all of the proceeds from the development to "restore its operations to a sound financial footing," increase its endowment (now $7 million) and "maintain, preserve and restore the cathedral building and other historic buildings." Deferred maintenance and site improvement projects require $17 million to $20 million, said Stephen Facey, the executive vice president of the cathedral.

Getting the cathedral back on its feet would set the stage for a capital campaign to finish the structure, which was begun 111 years ago. But Ms. Hackett asked, "To what length can nonprofits go to fulfill their mission?"

Besides generating revenue, which cathedral leaders would not estimate, development must be "congruent with the cathedral's mission and vision" and "compatible with the cathedral's historic architectural qualities," the trustees have said. They also said they expected architecture that was "not necessarily conventional," offering as examples the work of Diller & Scofidio, Steven Holl, Rafael Moneo and Renzo Piano.

The envelopes do not dictate shapes but rather maximum dimensions. No more than 68 percent of the north envelope and 65 percent of the southeast envelope can be occupied by a building. The north site has a height limit of 146 feet, equivalent to the point where the cathedral roof line begins, said Michael Kwartler of the Environmental Simulation Center, planning and zoning consultants to the cathedral.

The southeast site has a two-tiered height limit of 160 and 200 feet above the level of the cathedral grounds. Because it occupies a promontory, it would rise up to 235 feet above Morningside Drive. A parking lot and the former Cathedral Stoneworks fill the north site. The rose garden and playground on the southeast site would be relocated, Mr. Facey said.

Significant views of the cathedral would be preserved by the alignment of the envelopes, Mr. Kwartler said, including those along Amsterdam Avenue, down Morningside Drive and across Morningside Park.

Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said that the anticipated construction "would in no way detract from the cathedral" and that by allowing development, "we can be assured that the landmark will be protected in perpetuity."

But Carolyn C. Kent of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, a neighborhood preservation group, called the landmarks commission "actively complicit in this destructive spoiling."

"It would," she said, "visibly inflict on holy ground this new American century's apparent readiness to disrespect and spoil for profit our finest sites of art and architecture."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
June 27th, 2003, 04:19 PM
I think I have to side with the community activists this time. *St. John is so distinctive partly because it stands within a park setting in relative isolation. *Building structures within the Close itself will effectively compromise its aesthetic setting.

DominicanoNYC
June 27th, 2003, 11:13 PM
The NIMBYs are right. They way that the Columbia buildings have been looking recently is just repulsive and would, just as TLOZ said, compromise the sites setting.

Ernest Burden III
June 30th, 2003, 01:44 AM
"would in no way detract from the cathedral"

Ouch.

The ideas are not new--I drew proposed structures for the Close almost twenty years ago--but no taller than what's there now. *I do not have a handy scan of the aerial rendering. *I could post it if there is interest. *But there was never anything proposed for the north of the site--where the Soneyard Institute has always been.

Money has always been an issue up there, and this idea may look like a way to fund things.

I've always called St. John's 'my cathedral' so I suppose you can now call me a NIMC

TLOZ Link5
June 30th, 2003, 07:52 PM
I'd be interested, Ernest. *Especially the aerial view; I'd like to see what kind of impact that sort of bulk would have on the site.

NoyokA
July 13th, 2003, 12:38 PM
http://www.artsandmusicpa.com/nyc%20photos%20and%20postcards/nycpos10.jpg

Another Version of St. John the Divine.

Fabb
July 14th, 2003, 04:03 PM
St-John-in-the-Fields.
I'm afraid we'll never get this nice version.

Ernest Burden III
July 14th, 2003, 11:07 PM
I'm afraid we'll never get this nice version.

I think that version sat in the gift shop for several decades--meaning I believe its a model photo.

Oh, and I forgot about scanning the old rendering. *I'll try to get to that soon.

Kris
October 23rd, 2003, 12:07 AM
October 23, 2003

Council Threatening to Block Cathedral's Landmark Status

By DENNY LEE

City Council officials say they are poised to reject the landmark status granted to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, hoping to prevent the construction of large new buildings on the grounds surrounding the church, a 111-year-old Gothic structure in Morningside Heights.

Should the Council take the action in a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, it would be only the third time that it has invoked its power to overturn a landmarks designation.

At issue is not whether the cathedral is worthy of landmark designation. Rather, many Council members are objecting to an agreement between cathedral officials and the Landmarks Preservation Commission that would allow for the large new buildings to be erected on the 11.3-acre grounds that flank the cathedral. Columbia University hopes to develop the sites, and has already commissioned Polshek Partnership Architects to draft designs.

Preservationists contend that the agreement, which would allow for towers as tall as 20 stories, would trample on hallowed grounds and sully the majestic views of the cathedral. "I will not support the landmark commission's recommendation to merely landmark the cathedral," said Councilman Bill Perkins, who represents Morningside Heights and is a member the Council's landmarks subcommittee. He said any landmark designation should include the grounds as well.

Under the city's administrative code, the Council has until tomorrow — 120 days after the landmarks commission issued its designation — to vote on St. John the Divine. If it fails to act, the designation is approved by default. A vote rejecting the designation, however, does not prevent the cathedral from pursuing its development plans. It merely maintains the status quo, which, in this case, means that neither the cathedral nor its surrounding grounds are protected by the city's landmark laws. Although there is no danger that anyone would alter the cathedral, the landmarks commission has long believed that failure to designate it a landmark has been a glaring omission.

The scheduled vote has unleashed a flurry of lobbying efforts on both sides. Former Mayor David N. Dinkins, who is currently a professor at Columbia, has called Council members on behalf of the cathedral, saying it needs money from the development sites to shore up its ailing finances.

"The cathedral is really undercapitalized," said Robert S. Davis, a partner in Bryan Cave, one of the law firms representing the cathedral. "There is deferred maintenance of about $20 million that the cathedral isn't able to afford. The roof leaks."

Council Speaker Gifford Miller has told several colleagues that he is opposed to the designation.

Mr. Perkins, joined by local preservationist groups, has contended that the proposed designation would set a precedent for future developers to chip away at potential landmarks.

"This is akin to building a neo-Classical addition to the Seagram building," said Michael Adams, an architectural historian of Harlem, referring to the modernist icon on Park Avenue. "The cathedral is inviting money lenders into the temple."


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Kris
October 25th, 2003, 02:27 AM
October 25, 2003

No Landmark Status for St. John the Divine

By WINNIE HU

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has punctuated the New York skyline for more than a century, but its designation as an official city landmark was rejected yesterday by the City Council.

Council members, as expected, voted unanimously against landmark designation for the 111-year-old Gothic structure in Morningside Heights. This came after Bill Perkins, who represents the area, and other council members argued, essentially in an all-or-nothing approach, that the protective status should also be extended to the cathedral's 11.3-acre grounds to control development there.

"It was a declarative statement that St. John the Divine should be landmarked in totality, not piecemeal," Mr. Perkins said. "It is, quite frankly, an insult to the historical value of this world-renowned church to have it piecemeal like this."

In June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission had designated the cathedral as a landmark as part of an agreement with cathedral officials that would also allow the development of two sites on its grounds for new buildings. Under the city's administrative code, the council had until yesterday to reject that designation; otherwise, it would have been approved by default.

The council's action, however, does not prevent cathedral officials from pursuing development plans for its grounds. It does mean that the cathedral remains unprotected by the city's landmark laws.

Cathedral officials have historically opposed landmark status for the cathedral and its grounds, arguing that such a designation would hinder their efforts to complete the long unfinished structure. In recent years, though, they have agreed to a designation for the cathedral and the land immediately underneath it.

But cathedral officials have continued to oppose landmark designation for the grounds. Last November, they announced plans to lease part of the property to Columbia University for development as a way to bring revenue into the financially troubled cathedral.

Cathedral officials expressed disappointment yesterday in the Council's action, but said it would not change their plans. "We intend to proceed with our ongoing discussions with Columbia University with respect to the development of two sites on the periphery of the cathedral grounds," said the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral.

Mr. Perkins said that while he sympathized with the cathedral's financial problems, he would call on the landmarks commission to designate the entire property as a landmark as soon as possible.

Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said that he believed the commission had struck a "reasonable, sensible balance" between preservation and the needs of the cathedral.


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Gulcrapek
October 30th, 2004, 01:15 PM
Since restoration and repair of the cathedral has now begun, I'd like to humbly request of anyone who lives or works nearby to occasionally take pictures of the north transept and the cleaned interior stone. Gracias in advance.

fioco
October 31st, 2004, 06:13 PM
Reality hits the wall. The New York Times recently ran an article about the difficult financial situation facing the Cathedral parish. Many staff had to be let go and goals redefined. Much more successfully than St. Patrick's, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine has been a significant presence in the welfare of the neighborhood with exceptional outreach ministries. Its mission has been not only pastoral and civic but also as an important bridge to other faith traditions (as so Riverside Church). Since fairy godmothers exist only in storybooks (and the Village), the church needs a major endowment by a profligate philanthropist. [Profligate as in extravagant, not immoral. But sinners welcome to apply.] I would love to see the Cathedral continue to dominate the crest overlooking Harlem without attendant towers, but my pockets are woefully inadequate.

thomasjfletcher
November 2nd, 2004, 10:25 AM
http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/HAR002-St.JohnDivine.jpg

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem34.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem30.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem20.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem21.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem22.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem29.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem32.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/Harlem33.JPG

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/HAR002.htm

fioco
November 3rd, 2004, 04:45 PM
PDF doc of Calatrava's proposal for St. John the Divine: here for USC site (http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~kcoleman/Precedents/ALL%20PDFs/Calatrava_Cathedral.pdf)

Kris
December 9th, 2004, 07:59 AM
December 9, 2004

BLOCKS

A Giant Takes Steps to Rebuild Its Smaller Neighbor

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2004/12/09/nyregion/blocks_lg.jpg
Apartments are being offered for sale at 455 Central Park West, between 105th and 106th Streets. The building, erected in the 1880's, was originally the New York Cancer Hospital and then the Towers Nursing Home.

THE former Leake & Watts Orphan House, one of the most monumental Greek Revival temples in New York City, still stands after 161 years as a poignant testament to social history and to the transformation of Morningside Heights from suburb to city.

It would really take something to overshadow it.

That something is called the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

The Leake & Watts asylum stands on the spot intended for the south transept of the cathedral. It is a landmark in the way of a landmark (though neither is officially designated). Only St. John's somewhat protracted construction schedule - 11 decades and counting - has spared Leake & Watts so far.

The situation has yielded a happy architectural incongruity: two ample porticos with broad triangular pediments on giant Ionic colonnades, nestled at the base of an unfinished Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. From some vantages on the verdant grounds, it looks as if an ancient Greek temple stumbled into some medieval village.

Wary that Leake & Watts would jeopardize their ability to build the south transept, cathedral officials once resisted any talk of preservation. The columns, stucco over brick, crumbled. Column capitals and other woodwork rotted away. The roof leaked. A lot.

Now, reversing the course of demolition by neglect, the cathedral is restoring Leake & Watts, renamed the Town Building in honor of its architect, Ithiel Town. The last big part of the financing for the $1.5 million project is an all-or-nothing $250,000 challenge grant from the Rhodebeck Charitable Trust, which the cathedral must match by Dec. 31.

The cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, is at pains to say that the investment in the Town Building does not signify a retreat from the hope that one day St. John will be completed. "Because you're fixing the roof doesn't mean you gave up on the towers," he said. But he asked, "How are you going to finish a cathedral and put towers over roofs that leak?"

Implicitly, the cathedral has acknowledged the reality of Leake & Watts. "Right now, it is the south transept," said Stephen Facey, the executive vice president. "And it is likely to be the south transept for several generations to come."

Though the building does not have landmark status, it is officially listed on the calendar of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The cathedral has been working with the commission on the restoration project, which involves Polshek Partnership Architects, Building Conservation Associates and Robert Silman Associates.

"This is a great turnaround on the part of the cathedral," said Andrew S. Dolkart, a professor of historic preservation at Columbia University and the author of "Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture and Development" (1998).

"The Leake & Watts is the oldest building on Morningside Heights and a key element in understanding the history of the neighborhood," he said. "Like many wonderful landmarks, its survival is serendipitous, making it all the more significant that it is now being restored."

This does seem like a good moment for 19th-century institutional buildings whose survival was in doubt not long ago.

This month, Gov. George E. Pataki announced the groundbreaking for 500 units of mixed-income housing on Roosevelt Island in wings that will flank the landmark Octagon Tower, which was originally the New York Lunatic Asylum.

And 14 apartments are being marketed in the bulbous, turreted landmark at 455 Central Park West, between 105th and 106th Streets, that was built in the 1880's as the New York Cancer Hospital and was later the Towers Nursing Home.

The developer, Daniel E. McLean of MCL Companies in Chicago, can be forgiven for describing these units, which range in price from $3.5 million to $7 million, as "one of a kind." When referring to circular living rooms 40 feet in diameter that rise to tapering conical ceilings 26 feet high, this is not hyperbole.

The apartment, fashioned from the hospital chapel that was once dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, has already been purchased by Daniel Lufkin, a founder of the Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette securities firm, and his wife, Cynthia. "This is as close to the Dakota as exists in the five boroughs," Mr. Lufkin said, referring to the apartment house 33 blocks to the south.

WHAT distinguishes the Leake & Watts building from the Towers Nursing Home and the Octagon is that it was never abandoned. In fact, it has been put to heavy use. The Cathedral Community Cares social program is now there, as are the Textile Conservation Library, music rooms, sacristies, maintenance areas and a peacock pen.

Though the children are long gone - the orphanage sold its property to the cathedral and in 1890 moved to Yonkers, where it continues as Leake & Watts Services - a remnant of its sheltering purpose remains.

In the west wing, where girls were once housed, are eight beds for homeless men who stay, on average, four to six months.

"You can see the change from the moment they come here to the moment they leave," said Hilda Mateo, case manager and outreach coordinator for Cathedral Community Cares, which runs the shelter. It is a place, in other words, that the asylum's founders might recognize. Overshadowed though it is.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Gulcrapek
December 9th, 2004, 04:52 PM
I wondered what that building was when I was walking around The Close. It was so deteriorated. I'm looking forward to seeing it cleaned up.

krulltime
September 26th, 2005, 12:27 PM
Last-Ditch Protests at a Cathedral Short on Cash


By JENNIFER BLEYER
September 25, 2005

In the shadow of the country's largest cathedral, the Gothic hulk of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, is a strip of dry grass and weeds dotted with lonely granite slabs. On the other side of the cathedral's manicured campus, known as the Close, are a bare-bones playground and a few parking spaces sheltered by a thicket of trees. Though the lots don't look like much, for the past five years, they have stood at the center of a highly contentious debate.

Five years ago, word reached the community that the cathedral was considering leasing the land, which amounts to 2.2 acres of the 11.3-acre Close, to address its persistent financial problems. Herb Katz, a cathedral spokesman, said that the church's average deficit over the past three years had been $700,000 and that 20 employees were laid off this year.

While there have been protests over the plan, a group of neighborhood preservationists recently stepped up their last-ditch efforts to stop the development now that leasing negotiations are under way.

"As fall starts, we're in a rush against time and their bulldozers,"' said Carolyn Kent, a member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, who was gathering signatures on petitions the other afternoon on Broadway.

In its fall newsletter, the cathedral announced that it had reached two agreements. The first granted Columbia University a three-and-a-half-year option to lease and develop the strip of land directly to the north of the cathedral, on West 113th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive.

Susan Brown, a Columbia spokeswoman, said the university had no immediate plans for the property.

The second agreement brought the cathedral into exclusive negotiations with AvalonBay Communities, a national real estate investment trust, to build market-rate rental apartments on corner of the Close at West 110th Street and Morningside Drive. Stephen Facey, executive vice president of the cathedral, said ground could be broken in 12 to 18 months.

Some residents have urged the Episcopal bishop of New York to intervene. "If the cathedral is parceled off," said Jane Churchman, a former managing editor of the church's newsletter, "it makes the cathedral mission hostage to other interests."


Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
September 26th, 2005, 03:07 PM
The designs had better be exceptional.

Gulcrapek
September 27th, 2005, 05:32 PM
It won't be (Avalon). SLCE is codesigning it with a slightly better firm.

Kris
April 4th, 2006, 06:14 AM
April 4, 2006
Deal Close on Apartments Near Cathedral
By DAVID W. DUNLAP

A 20-story, 300-unit rental apartment building would rise on the southeast corner of the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine under a deal nearing completion between the cathedral's trustees and AvalonBay Communities Inc.

The building, which would partly block views of the cathedral from the Manhattan Valley neighborhood below, is the first of two potential development projects on the 11.3-acre Close, as the grounds are known.

Clad in brick along Cathedral Parkway, with a metal-and-glass facade rounding the corner to Morningside Drive, the new building would replace a playground, a rose garden and a rocky embankment that now sit behind a chain-link fence. The play area would move to a spot alongside the cathedral nave and the garden would be shifted slightly westward. A 150-space parking garage would be built under the apartment building.

Because of the steep change of grade, the building would rise 165 feet, or 17 stories, above the Close, and 204 feet, or 20 stories, above the street corner. It would not block views along Amsterdam Avenue, from which most visitors approach.

One critic of the plan, Jane Churchman, a former editor of the cathedral's quarterly newsletter, said, "We are witnessing a triumph of corporate capitalism over this great cathedral, which had been set high upon a hill that it not be obscured by corporate and institutional towers."

She added, "Secular development will obscure the vision of the cathedral and create a cognitive dissonance no matter what the architectural style of the new development."

But the dean of the Episcopal cathedral, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, said the income from this parcel and another on the north side of the Close might generate up to $5 million annually to support the cathedral's mission, helping the cash-starved institution increase its small endowment, undertake deferred maintenance and meet operating costs.

"It is part of our ongoing effort to be stewards," he said.

The unfinished cathedral, running a debt of up to $1 million a year and facing up to $20 million in maintenance expenses, would lease a 32,000-square-foot corner parcel to AvalonBay for 99 years, realizing about $2.5 million annually for the first 20 years.

Construction of the $125 million building might begin this year, said Frederick S. Harris, a senior vice president of AvalonBay.

Dean Kowalski said the building would bring needed rental apartments to a market dominated by condominiums, enliven the neighborhood and add to the city's property tax rolls, since the AvalonBay parcel has been carved out of the tax-exempt Close as a separate taxpaying lot.

Rents in the building would be market rate, probably more than $40 a square foot annually, Mr. Harris said. For a 900-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, that would work out to at least $3,000 a month. There would also be studio, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

The building size was determined in part by design controls drawn up by the cathedral in an agreement with the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, under which the two development parcels would not be considered for landmark status. Columbia University has an option to lease the north parcel.

In 2003, the commission designated the cathedral itself a landmark. The City Council overturned the designation four months later. Right now, the rest of the Close, including Greek Revival and Gothic-style buildings around the cathedral, technically remains on the commission's calendar for future consideration.

Frances Halsband, a partner in R. M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects, which designed the new building, said it would be 35 feet lower than the design controls would have permitted, slightly below the gabled roof of the cathedral nave. The faceted facade and open space at the building's base are meant to complement nearby Morningside Park, she said.

The entrance and lobby will be at Cathedral Parkway and Morningside Drive. There will be no entrance from the Close.

The 240-foot-long facade facing the cathedral will be clad in a gray-buff brick for the first four stories on the Close side, matching the nearby Diocesan House in color and some architectural details. No other attempt has been made to imitate or even emulate the architectural styles around the Close.

The upper floors will be glass and aluminum panels. "The building should be reflective and lighter looking as it meets the sky," Ms. Halsband said. "That's a Gothic principle. A tall masonry building would not work as well."

A preservation-oriented critic, Carolyn C. Kent, a founding member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, said the apartment building "would insult and trivialize the majestic cathedral."

"It would wall out views of the cathedral from the south; wall in, dwarf and darken the cluster of its finely executed ancillary buildings; rob these of their open horizon; disfigure every southeast sightline within the Close," she said.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

lofter1
April 4th, 2006, 11:30 AM
Deal Close on Apartments Near Cathedral

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/04/nyregion/04cathedral.600.jpg
Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Frances Halsband, an architect of the proposed building, with a depiction of
its maximum legal space.

The actual building would be smaller.

czsz
April 4th, 2006, 05:56 PM
One critic of the plan, Jane Churchman, a former editor of the cathedral's quarterly newsletter, said, "We are witnessing a triumph of corporate capitalism over this great cathedral, which had been set high upon a hill that it not be obscured by corporate and institutional towers."

She's got the perfect name...but anyway, the cathedral is already overshadowed by buildings across the street...

ablarc
April 4th, 2006, 08:40 PM
She should have said "blocked from the downhill side." That's more serious than being overshadowed. Think about Chartres blocked from the downhill side.

Anyway, this shows promise of being a crappy building.

antinimby
April 4th, 2006, 09:07 PM
Anyway, this shows promise of being a crappy building.Yes, in an effort to blend in and be respectful it'll end up doing just the opposite and everyone loses.
Sometimes if they're not worrying about trying to be contextual, it might end up being more contextual. Irony.

ablarc
April 4th, 2006, 09:17 PM
Yes, in an effort to blend in and be respectful it'll end up doing just the opposite and everyone loses.
Sometimes if they're not worrying about trying to be contextual, it might end up being more contextual. Irony.
This is a common phenomenon. Perceptive of you to have called attention to it.

czsz
April 4th, 2006, 10:14 PM
She should have said "blocked from the downhill side." That's more serious than being overshadowed. Think about Chartres blocked from the downhill side.

Anyway, this shows promise of being a crappy building.

Eh, the cathedral is not very majestic from this corner or block. In fact, I don't even think you can see it standing down there beneath the rock ledge. The best view, undoubtedly, is from below the cliff in Morningside Park, which will remain undisturbed.

And yes, Avalon is a craptacular developer. It will be a diamond in the rough for them if it's not neocolonial trash worthy of a Central Massachusetts exurb.

czsz
April 6th, 2006, 01:40 PM
The intersection where the new development would rise:

http://jschumacher.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/st_john_03.jpg

antinimby
February 9th, 2007, 01:02 PM
Development at St. John's Breaks Ground

Committee Collects 1,300 Signatures From Residents to Oppose Apartment Complex


By Anna Phillips
Issue date: 2/9/07 (http://media.www.columbiaspectator.com/media/storage/paper865/news/2007/02/09/News/Development.At.St.Johns.Breaks.Ground-2709568.shtml)

At a ceremonial ground breaking held today at the site of the future Avalon Morningside Park development, developers, elected officials, and congregation members of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine gathered to announce the beginning of construction.

The event, however, was something of a false start, as construction on the housing development will likely not begin until mid-March, according to Avalon Bay Companies Development Director for the project, Rachel Lobe.

Avalon Bay Companies, a New York real estate developer, purchased land from St. John the Divine and has been discussing plans to build an apartment building for over a year. Although the physical plans have changed little, the company has decided to set aside 20 percent of the housing units for affordable housing.

"It was a response to both the comments we heard from the local community and the elected officials," Lobe said.

The project plans have drawn criticism from community preservationists and cathedral members, since much of St. John the Divine's 11.3 acre property is land marked for historic preservation. Despite several attempts by the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee to repeal the Landmark Preservation Commission's decision, the land Avalon Bay Companies now owns was excluded from landmark status.

Carolyn Kent, chair of Community Board 9's Parks and Landmarks Committee, and other members of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee gathered 1,300 signatures from local residents on a petition opposing the development.

"We will continue to work against the construction of such an inappropriate building. It's inappropriate both in its purpose, which is profit taking luxury housing, and in its architectural design, which will dwarf the scale and finesse and Gothic design of the cathedral's ancillary buildings," Kent said.

Scheduled to be completed in January, 2009, the Avalon Morningside Park development will be 20 stories high with 299 apartments and will cost roughly $126 million to build. According to Lobe, early construction will mostly involve rock removal to clear space for the foundation.

Copyright 2006 Columbia Spectator

TheInterloafer
February 9th, 2007, 03:39 PM
For more on the groundbreaking ceremony, from GlobeSt.com (http://www.globest.com/news/839_839/newyork/152752-1.html)


NEW YORK CITY-AvalonBay Communities Inc. will break ground today on a $126-million, 296-unit apartment complex on the city’s upper West Side. Avalon Morningside Park, as the project is dubbed, will be the company’s fourth development project in Manhattan.
Located on 110th Street, on the southeast corner of the three block parcel owned by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the building will rise 20 stories in height and total 243,000 sf of rentable space, Fred Harris, SVP of development for AvalonBay tells GlobeSt.com. The company signed a 99-year ground lease in September 2006 with the cathedral to develop on the site.

According to Harris, when the Cathedral when up for landmark status a couple years ago, two sites were deliberately left out of consideration with the hopes that they could one day be developed. One of those sites will become this apartment complex, Harris says.


The plot of land is actually an infill site, which housed dirt removed when building portions of St. John the Divine and hid the unsightly elevated train that used to run through that part of town. “It is still sort of a blank wall,” Harris says, adding that the new building will lighten the corner significantly and improve the area.

Construction will begin in a couple weeks after some remaining pre-construction work is finished, Harris says. The property is expected to see its first residents in the summer of 2008 and be complete by January 2009.
There will be one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 500 sf to 1,350 sf, Harris says. Of the 296 units, 20% of them will be affordable. The property will also include a public plaza, parking, bike storage, lounge and community room.
The area around St. John the Divine is mostly residential. But Harris says there have been very few new units brought to the market in the last couple years.

antinimby
February 13th, 2007, 07:47 PM
Ground is broken for rental apartments on cathedral grounds

http://www.cityrealty.com/graphics/uploads/1171063035_Avalonmp.jpg

09-FEB-07

Ground was broken yesterday for a 20-story, 296-unit rental apartment building on the northwest corner of Morningside Drive and Cathedral Parkway by AvalonBay Communities Inc.

AvalonBay Communities, which has its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, has three other developments in Manhattan including large projects on the Bowery and East Houston Street. It has an ownership interest in more than 165 apartment communities with about 48,000 apartments in 10 states and Washington, D.C.

The developer signed a 99-year lease with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine last September for an "underutilized perimeter parcel of the cathedral's Close.

R. M. Kliment + Frances Halsband Architects, best known in the city for the very attractive entrance to the Long Island Rail Road on West 34th Street, is the architect for the development, which will have a two-story glass entrance opening onto Cathedral Parkway with landscaping by Rader + Crews.

Construction is anticipated to be completed within 24 months.

The cathedral required that the project's design and materials be of high quality and that no buildings on the grounds would be demolished or altered.

"This is a momentous day in the long history of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic Cathedral in the wolrd, built to be a cathedral for all people," declared the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean of the Cathedral. "We initiated this effort over seven years ago as part of a strategy to preserve the buildings and gardens on the grounds as well as the religious, educational, cultural, social and civic programs that the Cathedral supports," he said.

The New York City Housing Development Corp[oration financed the construction by issuing $100 million in tax-exempt bonds through its 80/20 program, which will insure that 20 percent of the apartments will be affordable to households earning up to 50 percent of the area's median income.

The Cathedral announced that it will establish a Housing Mission Fund in an agreement with AvalonBay and that the Cathedral's fund will contribute $200,000 annually for thirty years to the 59 affordable apartments in the development.

AvalonBay has selected The Phipps Houses Group to oversee the development's affordable housing program.

Shaun Donovan, commissioner of the city's Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, said that "this past December Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation reforming the 421-a program to provide incentives to construct more affordable housing on-site while maintaining the incredible housing boom New York City is experiencing."

According to Fred Harris, senior vice president of development for AvalonBay, two sites on the cathedral's grounds were not included when it was being considered for landmark designation a couple of years ago and this is one of those sites. The building will have a garage, bicycle storage and a community room and apartments will range in size from about 500 to 1,350 square feet.

Copyright © 1994-2007 CITY REALTY.COM INC.

antinimby
February 13th, 2007, 08:14 PM
A larger rendering from the HDC site (http://www.nychdc.com/pressroom/pr_02-08-07.html).

http://www.nychdc.com/images/Avalon%20Morningside%20Park.jpg

czsz
February 15th, 2007, 04:54 PM
Do they plan to show the top of it?

Citytect
February 15th, 2007, 06:56 PM
They figured why bother? Nothing surprising going to happen up there. Double the height of what you see add a flat top (well I guess that's not really adding anything).

MidtownGuy
February 15th, 2007, 08:48 PM
I wish they would execute Calatrava's brilliant design for the completion. What a genious.
A link to these was posted earlier in the thread, but here are the images for
lazy clickers.


http://farm1.static.flickr.com/154/391593565_4741423159_o.png

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/144/391593566_3c4c5a3e2b_o.png

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/174/391593570_2049276e59_o.png

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/146/391593571_bbf26e021e_o.png

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/184/391593572_cad60b6999_o.png

like a bit of Barcelona here in NYC. If I had the millions laying around I'd fund it myself.

NoyokA
February 15th, 2007, 08:54 PM
The Calatrava proposal would've horribly mutated St. John's, sometimes good enough is enough, the Calatrava addition creates a scene that looks almost post-apocalyptic.

MidtownGuy
February 15th, 2007, 09:09 PM
I respectfully disagree, Stern. I really think it's glorious, not post-apocolyptic at all. Perhaps the black/white presentation is contributing to your impression? I find it very uplifting, in the graceful and symmetric upswooping movement. Great glass and steel ceiling. Oh well, it's all subjective.

lofter1
February 15th, 2007, 10:54 PM
The Calatrava plan is fantastic. And seems buildable in a way that would never be possible if one were to go forward with the original plans / original materials.

ablarc
February 16th, 2007, 07:58 AM
The Calatrava plan is fantastic. And seems buildable in a way that would never be possible if one were to go forward with the original plans / original materials.
Substitute "barely" for "never" and you're spot-on.


I respectfully disagree, Stern. I really think it's glorious, not post-apocolyptic at all.
I think you're both right. Glorious and post-apocalyptic.

As perhaps it should be, for so is the Book of Revelation, to which the Cathedral is dedicated and which describes the Apocalypse and its aftermath. Its author: St. John the Divine.


(John's vision came on the isle of Patmos. Did you visit Patmos when in Greece, MidtownGuy?)

MidtownGuy
February 16th, 2007, 10:41 AM
I've never been to Patmos. I'm curious, what elements of the design suggest apocalypse? The impression I get is of an optimistic future.

Wrightfan
February 16th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Both Avalon Bay and Kliment Halsband have done nothing to redeem themselves!
And those poor Cathedral School kids- having this... thing hulking over them.
Hope the Cathedral is happy with their money.

czsz
February 16th, 2007, 05:36 PM
Morningside Heights has some of the most rabidly conservative NIMBYs in Manhattan. Chance of anything other than a neogothic spire rising from the nave of St. John's? Nil. Witness the cheesy neo-Georgian facade they ordered slapped onto the nursing home across the street from the cathedral; it looks like a cheap New Jersey "colonial" McMansion writ urban. Then take a look at Stern's Columbia dorm, posted in the African museum thread; it's perhaps the worst parody of a Manhattan apartment house yet executed this side of Shanghai.

I have my own personal reasons - the cathedral is meat to the bones of Columbia's Art Hum curriculum, where every student is educated about the cardinal features of gothic architecture (beyond slideshows of Amiens or trips to the Cloisters to see fragmentary remnants that are hardly as inspiring). In other words, for many, it serves as the very foundation for what makes reinterpretations by the likes of a Calatrava possible.

Wrightfan
February 16th, 2007, 07:22 PM
was due to the Cathedral itself (Dean) complaining about the look of the addition designed by Barbara Geddes' firm- it was not coming from Morningside Heights residents. The gray modernist box extant before they arrived on the scene was a fine peice of architecture, and if only they had the courage to continue with it, instead of the faux-Columbia campus look grafted onto it. At least they left the reservoir gatehouse in better shape than it they found it.

This Kliment Halsband pile looks to realize a lot of the neighborhood's fears.

czsz
February 19th, 2007, 03:44 AM
Thanks for filling us in on that.

I actually wish the gatehouses were either moved or converted to some more lively use (like patio restaurants or something). As is, they make already fairly dead, institutional Amsterdam an even more desolate avenue in that stretch.

BrooklynRider
February 19th, 2007, 01:42 PM
Hope the Cathedral is happy with their money.

Someone at St. John's will undoubtedly get a raise in salary over this crime.

Peakrate212
February 19th, 2007, 07:37 PM
Is there a way to get Avalon Bay outlawed from New York City...like the way they fight Walmart from coming in.....?

I mean they have no respect for this City where they make a ton of money.....they build ugly and uglier buildings .....ridiculous

BPC
February 20th, 2007, 01:22 AM
I've never been to Patmos.

Absolutely lovely island. Well worth the trip, even without St. John's cave.

ablarc
February 20th, 2007, 08:29 AM
I'm curious, what elements of the design suggest apocalypse? The impression I get is of an optimistic future.
Apocalypse is the optimistic future.

Good guys all go to heaven, bad guys get their just desserts, vale of toil and sin shuts down. What could be more optimistic than that?

The ultimate happy ending.




You don't want the bad guys going to heaven, do you?

lofter1
February 20th, 2007, 10:44 AM
Do molecules distinguish between good and bad?

NoyokA
February 20th, 2007, 01:21 PM
I've never been to Patmos. I'm curious, what elements of the design suggest apocalypse? The impression I get is of an optimistic future.

For me it’s the clash between the heavy stone and the light and transparent addition, that despite its flimsiness, its enormous size dominates and supersedes the original structure. To me it looks like the entire structure was just hit with an Atomic Bomb, a Hiroshima Dome, of sorts.

czsz
February 20th, 2007, 02:59 PM
It does have that memorialised ruin quality, like the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedeachtniskirche in Berlin:

http://www.kantorei-berlin.de/Downloads/Links/kwg01.jpg

MidtownGuy
February 20th, 2007, 03:44 PM
Apocalypse is the optimistic future.

Good guys all go to heaven, bad guys get their just desserts, vale of toil and sin shuts down. What could be more optimistic than that?

The ultimate happy ending.


You don't want the bad guys going to heaven, do you?

Your bad guys might be my good ones.
Ablarc, your cleverness always makes me smile.
Still, I'll clarify and say that I think for most people, apocolypse means the final and cataclysmic destruction of the world, hardly an optimistic thought for me, despite the kooky side-benefit of a rapture where Jimmy Stewart rises naked up into the sky, and Janet Jackson goes down because of a bare nipple.:)

No, I think here we have a beautiful and soaring meld of past and future,
including an interesting bioshelter feature. Calatrava is talking of survival, not massive eradication.

Stern's made it clear that he means post-apocolyptic in the sense of a bomb having hit it, and not the perfection that will exist after Jesus lands again.

It's my interpretation, but I don't see jumbled ruins, I see order. An almost hypnotic symmetry. The cruciform is intact, the crystalline spire soars. The interiors are pristine and inspired, with an astounding drama of space.

MidtownGuy
February 21st, 2007, 01:11 PM
Absolutely lovely island. Well worth the trip, even without St. John's cave

Thanks for sharing that impression, it may convince me to make a stop there on my next visit to Greece. A friend has been there, and he said it was a peaceful, spiritual island.

pianoman11686
June 4th, 2007, 04:58 PM
'DIVINE' LAND TUSSLE

By GINGER ADAMS OTIS

June 3, 2007 -- There's no such thing as sacred ground when it comes to Manhattan real estate.

A Morningside Heights community group wants the National Trust for Historic Preservation to declare St. John the Divine's lush private garden a federally protected landmark, according to New York magazine.

The group hopes that will scuttle a deal between church trustees and developers for a 20-story luxury apartment complex amid the gardens, along with a pending agreement with Columbia University for additional construction on an adjacent lot.

Work has already begun on the 300-unit building that will eventually dominate the private grounds of St. John the Divine.

The 99-year land lease that church trustees signed with Avalon Bay developers will bring St. John's $2.5 million a year.

The church will also retain control of the apartments after the deal expires, reports the magazine, which hits newsstands tomorrow.

Twenty percent of the units are earmarked for affordable housing, said cathedral dean James Kowalski.

Without the real-estate deals, church leaders say, the iconic Gothic cathedral could be forced to close its doors for good.

gotis@nypost.com

http://www.nypost.com/seven/06032007/news/regionalnews/divine_land_tussle_regionalnews_ginger_adams_otis. htm

Copyright 2007 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fahzee
June 4th, 2007, 09:41 PM
what bothers me about the Avalon Bay plan is not the ho-hum design, but the lack of real information on exactly how the money will help the church - specifically on the restoration and continued building of the property.

When the General Theological Seminary first proposed their 17 story addition, they made it clear that a good portion of the money would go to the restoration of the historic gothic campus.

At St John the Divine, as far as I can tell there are no concrete restoration plans beyond the current cleaning, which will be finished by the end of the year.

BrooklynRider
June 4th, 2007, 11:44 PM
It seems very short-sighted.

stache
June 5th, 2007, 07:19 AM
I seem to recall reading that the St. John people had decided to suspend efforts to finish the church until a cure for AIDS had been found, that more pressing matters needed to be resolved before they would go back to building.

BrooklynRider
June 5th, 2007, 10:34 AM
Complete that cathedral or renew construction and it becomes a huge revenue maker for the church. Sometimes spending money is the best way to make it back. They wouldn't need all of this reparaitive work if they completed the building.

SaveNYC
June 11th, 2007, 03:47 PM
Save the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Saint_John_the_Divine), the largest cathedral and second largest Christian church in the world, being surpassed only by Saint Peter's Basilica (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter%27s_Basilica), Rome.
Time is of absolute essence. Only a signature is requested - no fundraising or commercial use of your email address.
Please sign this petition and forward to anyone who cares for NYC, art, architecture, and our heritage.
http://www.petitiononline.com/SaveCath (http://www.petitiononline.com/SaveCath)
With this petition, we hope to:
1) convince the National Trust that too many caring people are concerned about massive construction on the historic Close of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for them to continue to ignore this crisis.
2) convince Columbia University that they must back away from their plans for massive construction on the northern sector of the Close.
3) assemble a record of civic protest against the breakdown in the functioning of our preservation agencies that has permitted such damaging preliminary excavation.

For more information and pictures you can go to: http://www.geocities.com/SaveTheCathedral (http://www.geocities.com/SaveTheCathedral)

Thank you.

SaveNYC
June 11th, 2007, 04:44 PM
The SE corner of the close is now hollowed. Please sign the above petition and forward to as many people as you know. We need an exponential rise in the number of signatures to make a difference.

antinimby
September 27th, 2007, 03:19 AM
1) & 2) construction on the tower

3) - 5) The Church from various vantage points (just amazing--felt like I was transported to medieval France or something)

6) The Peace Fountain


http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/6334/img0043lf4.th.jpg (http://img171.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0043lf4.jpg) http://img264.imageshack.us/img264/8085/img0044bg4.th.jpg (http://img264.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0044bg4.jpg)

http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/7384/img0045nt5.th.jpg (http://img98.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0045nt5.jpg) http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/97/img0046cd9.th.jpg (http://img98.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0046cd9.jpg) http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/6466/img0047tk0.th.jpg (http://img146.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0047tk0.jpg)

http://img376.imageshack.us/img376/7896/img0048pr9.th.jpg (http://img376.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0048pr9.jpg)

sfenn1117
September 28th, 2007, 01:36 AM
^Out of the ground finally. We'll have to keep an eye on this one.

Thanks for ALL the shots antinimby. I love how all our forum's best and prolific posters have cameras now :)

krulltime
September 28th, 2007, 03:55 AM
This is probably going to be another generic boring looking Avalon tower.

infoshare
September 29th, 2007, 01:25 AM
Thanks for ALL the shots antinimby. I love how all our forum's best and prolific posters have cameras now :)

Amen (http://www.ibiblio.org/Bahai/Texts/EN/Revelations/Revelations-10.html).

The revelation of St. John the Divine -
"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."

P.S. The the design/construction of St. John the Devine took many years (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medny/stjohn2.html) to complete: I hope this new development moves along a bit more quicklly.

Citytect
September 29th, 2007, 12:01 PM
P.S. The the design/construction of St. John the Devine took many years (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medny/stjohn2.html) to complete:

And it hasn't been completed.

infoshare
September 29th, 2007, 12:18 PM
And it hasn't been completed.

In the words of a preacher: "The lords work is never done". :D

NYatKNIGHT
November 6th, 2007, 02:17 PM
November 6, 2007

A Blossoming Cathedral Tower Sheds Its Scaffolding

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/06/nyregion/exterior190.jpg
The southwest tower of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, with the top 55 feet newly visible.

Fifteen years have passed since the stonemasons put down their chisels and mallets for the last time. Now, they can finally see what their carving wrought: the uppermost 55 feet 2 inches of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

In recent weeks, the cathedral’s southwest tower has emerged from the rusty scaffolding that had enclosed it since the last round of construction ended in 1992. The tower is still far from complete, but it has grown noticeably closer to the sky.

What is now revealed, in a limestone several shades blonder than the rest of the cathedral, are crisp buttresses, gables, colonettes, gargoyles, pinnacles, crockets and ornaments known as trefoils (three cusps), quatrefoils (four cusps) and cinquefoils (five cusps).

The tower has a newly imposing presence.

“It has been set free from its bondage of scaffolding,” said the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral. Perhaps the greatest personal gratification, he said, was felt by those who labored so hard on the tower before the money ran out. “It was the first time they saw the magnitude of what was accomplished.”

Less visibly, scaffolding is also being removed now from within the great nave, which has been off limits to worshipers and visitors since June 2006, while undergoing a $16.5 million cleaning and repair of damage from a fire in the north transept in December 2001.

For now, the crossing and the chapels around the apse are open, reached through a shed that runs through the nave. Above and around that shed, outside of public view, the freshly cleaned interior stonework glows almost as if it were illuminated from within.

Dr. Kowalski said that worship was expected to resume in the nave next June. By then, the crossing will have to be closed so that the organ can be reinstalled. The entire interior will not reopen until November 2008.

St. John the Divine, the seat of the Episcopal Church in New York, was begun in 1892. Its architects changed, from Heins & La Farge to Ralph Adams Cram, and its style changed with them, from Romanesque to Gothic. Work stopped because of World War I and World War II.

From 1938 to 1982, both of the western towers were truncated for the time being at 150 feet 6 inches, half their intended height.

Construction resumed on the southwest tower in 1982, employing young city dwellers apprenticed to a master mason from England. “The stonework will be done by our own unemployed and underemployed neighbors,” said the Very Rev. James Parks Morton, who was dean at the time.

A separate for-profit company called Cathedral Stoneworks was set up in 1989 to supply the southwest tower and other projects. The tower reached 205 feet 8 inches before the job was halted again. The stoneworks declared bankruptcy in 1994.

But the scaffolding stayed up, year after year. “It accentuated the incompleteness and even a sense of failure,” Dr. Kowalski said.
However, he does not see the episodic construction as a sign of defeat. “Cathedrals are built in fits and starts,” Dr. Kowalski said. “They take time.”
Meanwhile, the church’s priorities have changed, as has the neighborhood around it.

A 20-story apartment building is now under construction on Morningside Drive, at the southeast corner of the Close, as the cathedral grounds are known. To the dismay of some preservationists and neighbors, the site has been leased for 99 years to AvalonBay Communities, which is developing the 296-unit building.

On completion, the AvalonBay building will be only two feet shorter than the cathedral’s southwest tower, though there is such a steep change of grade between the Close and Morningside Drive that it will appear to be 41 feet shorter.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/06/nyregion/interior450.jpg
David W. Dunlap/The New York Times

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/06/nyregion/gargoyle450.jpg
A column capital in the newly revealed section of the tower, which is intended to grow about 95 feet higher some day.


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/nyregion/06divine.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/nyregion/06divine.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin)

Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

Wrightfan
January 2nd, 2008, 12:05 PM
It is HUGE! They took the crane down the week before Christmas so now you can admire it's full bulk. They might as well have built a wall along 110th St.

Wrightfan
January 18th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Here's the damned thing as of New Years

Fahzee
January 18th, 2008, 05:56 PM
haha ohmygod - that building is TERRIBLE. I can't believe I thought this project was a good idea

Fabrizio
January 18th, 2008, 06:03 PM
A great urban vista forever ruined.

Meanwhile, my hat is off to those NIMBYs in Chelsea.

ASchwarz
January 18th, 2008, 06:55 PM
A great urban vista forever ruined.



Yeah, I sure will miss that pockmarked parking lot.

I guess some people are crazy enough to want the cathedral to be fiscally solvent, and would prefer an Manhattan urban context over Paramus, NJ.

Fabrizio
January 19th, 2008, 11:49 AM
Uh.... "some people" ?

Some people lack taste enough and are poor enough to be perfectly fine with this.

But we are in desirable Manhattan during a boom. This Church is a national treasure. What ever is built on that spot should be of high design and quality.

But since every one of your posts on this forum is in favour of EVERYTHING built in NYC why do you even bother posting?

We already know you like this ...even with out mentioning it.

Why don't you just add a disclaimer to your name? Perhaps a new handle (complete with a satisfied smiley face): Aschwarz-likes-it:p

Wrightfan
January 19th, 2008, 06:52 PM
Dont' forget that this is Avalon Bay developing this thing, hence the quality or ahem... lack of.

pianoman11686
January 20th, 2008, 04:13 AM
Meanwhile, my hat is off to those NIMBYs in Chelsea.

Well, that wasn't very subtle. I believe you're referring to the seminary that had to scale back its plans because of the community's disapproval. And I believe they're still looking for a way to raise enough money.


A great urban vista forever ruined.

Ironic that, in the other thread, you kept saying St. John's played by the rules and we all got the desirable outcome. I guess you no longer think so.

And while we're on the subject: if someone is consistently pro-development on a forum, and shouldn't "bother posting" any more, then what does that mean for the people who are consistently pro-NIMBY and pro-preservation?

We all get repetitive in our arguments on this forum. Seriously, why do you care.

Fabrizio
January 20th, 2008, 10:10 AM
They played by the rules and were able to build. Fine. What got built is looks cheap and ugly. Not fine.

I cannot think of any one on this forum who is consistently pro-NIMBY and pro-preservation.

ablarc
January 20th, 2008, 12:44 PM
I cannot think of any one on this forum who is consistently pro-NIMBY and pro-preservation.
Most WNY folks are in fact anti-NIMBY and pro-preservation.



Preservationists have different motives and perceptions from NIMBYs --even if they sometimes find themselves on the same side of an issue.

krulltime
January 26th, 2008, 05:55 PM
January 25, 2008:


http://www.pbase.com/image/92155235.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/92155237.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/92155240.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/92155242.jpg

NoyokA
January 26th, 2008, 07:30 PM
What ashame. St.John's was one of the few places that resisted selling out, whenever I visited the grounds I felt like I was some place in Europe far away from NY, this encroachment has definetly severly compromised that.

MidtownGuy
January 26th, 2008, 07:43 PM
It looks disgusting there.

BrooklynRider
January 27th, 2008, 02:40 AM
The Cathedral is just another shoed in building now.

UrbanSculptures
February 3rd, 2008, 07:02 PM
"decided to suspend efforts to finish the church until a cure for AIDS had been found,"

There already is a preventative cure, it's called a CONDOM... cancer and heart disease which are not preventable so easy as HIV is, and affects millions of all ages should have the focus.

Here's a couple of photos, one I thought people might like to see is an initial construction view of the cathedral in what I believe is a fairly rare photo postcard. I am unable to identify the specific arch's location in any contemporary photos, and I believe the sloping street in the foreground no longer exists, I wasn't able to definitively find the street or the arch in Google's views or other photos.
It is difficult to tell which direction the photo looks towards, but it seems to be the large arch of the round domed section, I found a photo on that geocities site looking at what would be the opposite side's arch as the butress that can be seen in this view is on the opposite side of the arch in the other view.

The 2nd photo is a scan of a pre-construction map I seem to remember was 1892 or so showing the former occupant was an orphan asylum and that by then the two streets from Amsterdam to Morningside Drive crossing the land were closed off and obsoleted. An older map still showed the streets in use.

lizbeth li
February 3rd, 2008, 07:38 PM
Really looks disgusting and couldn't have been less fitting.

lofter1
February 4th, 2008, 11:08 AM
An old 1903 PRINT over at eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/1903-Rare-PHOTO-VIEW-Book-of-NEW-YORK-CITY-MOSES-KING_W0QQitemZ110221077329QQihZ001QQcategoryZ29223 QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem) ...

http://members.aol.com/bdogcat/mk03a2.jpg

UrbanSculptures
February 4th, 2008, 02:31 PM
They call those "prints" but in reality, the majority of these individual "prints" sold on Ebay are simply ripped or cut out of valuable and rare antique BOOKS, this is because the seller can make a LOT more money selling individual pages as art prints than they can for sellig the book as a book.

It's criminal what they are doing, I've even seen a 500 year old hand printed Guttenburg bible sold up there by the page, with each page cut out and sold as "prints" for up to a few hundred dollars each.
Any old book with a lot of pictures, no matter how rare or valuable means nothing as long as these sellers can tear the pages out and sell them as prints.
Eventually the supply of these books will dry up, after all, how many books of a specific title about horses were physically printed in the 1700's?

krulltime
February 4th, 2008, 02:47 PM
An old 1903 PRINT over at eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/1903-Rare-PHOTO-VIEW-Book-of-NEW-YORK-CITY-MOSES-KING_W0QQitemZ110221077329QQihZ001QQcategoryZ29223 QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem) ...

http://members.aol.com/bdogcat/mk03a2.jpg

If only they had manage to finished the church. Oh well, still sort of impressive still.

lofter1
February 4th, 2008, 03:22 PM
This particular auction is actually an entire book of prints & photos, being offered up by someone over in Australia.

Stroika
February 4th, 2008, 04:35 PM
If only they had manage to finished the church. Oh well, still sort of impressive still.

At least they're on track to finish Avalon Bay. That's almost as stunning as the world's largest Protestant church, isn't it?

Sometimes I wonder if we live in an age of complete degeneracy and slipped standards ... then I turn back to Tia Tequila and all's well.

UrbanSculptures
February 5th, 2008, 12:05 AM
This particular auction is actually an entire book of prints & photos, being offered up by someone over in Australia.


Well that's a rarity... if a book dealer type gets hold of it you can be sure it won't remain a book very long :(

I left you a post in the subway art thread lofter1

lofter1
February 5th, 2008, 01:33 AM
Got it (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=213408&postcount=12)

BrooklynRider
February 8th, 2008, 02:16 PM
That rendering looks to be the first design, before it was redesigned as a gothic building. Only the apse is romanesque today. Also, there's only one portal in the rendering. It has three portals today.

Living in Gin
June 6th, 2008, 10:30 PM
I am unable to identify the specific arch's location in any contemporary photos, and I believe the sloping street in the foreground no longer exists, I wasn't able to definitively find the street or the arch in Google's views or other photos.
It is difficult to tell which direction the photo looks towards, but it seems to be the large arch of the round domed section, I found a photo on that geocities site looking at what would be the opposite side's arch as the butress that can be seen in this view is on the opposite side of the arch in the other view.

The view is from Morningside Drive, facing northwest. The completed portion of the cathedral shown in the photo (in front of the arch) is what is now St. Saviour's Chapel, the center chapel of the seven chapels that now line the apse.

The arch itself is now buried within the finished stonework of the Great Choir and the crossing. Portions of three other similar arches are currently visible, but these too were designed to be buried within the completed transepts, and are to carry the weight of the crossing tower, should it ever be built.


The 2nd photo is a scan of a pre-construction map I seem to remember was 1892 or so showing the former occupant was an orphan asylum and that by then the two streets from Amsterdam to Morningside Drive crossing the land were closed off and obsoleted. An older map still showed the streets in use.Most of the Leake & Watts Orphange building still exists; it is the neo-classical red brick building that sits where the south transept of the cathedral would be. The building is now used for choir rooms, sacristies, a homeless shelter, and various other support functions. If the south transept is ever built, the Leake & Watts building would need to be either demolished or moved.

brianac
July 20th, 2008, 07:58 AM
Scrubbed of Smoke and Grime, a Sanctuary Sparkles Again

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/07/20/nyregion/20nave1.span.jpg David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
The nave at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine will reopen to the public on Monday after a two-year cleaning and restoration project. Page 23.

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/david_w_dunlap/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: July 20, 2008

“Oh, my God,” is not an entirely inappropriate reaction.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/07/20/nyregion/20nave2.pop.jpgPhotographs by DAVID W. DUNLAP/The New York Times
A web of scaffolding had cluttered the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for two years. The nave is aglow, right, after a $16.5 million restoration and will be rededicated on Nov. 30.

An exclamation of some kind is almost inevitable on seeing the nave of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for the first time in two years.

After a $16.5 million cleaning and restoration, the 248-foot-long nave — the monumental aisle leading from the sanctuary’s main entrance — has a surprising clarity, crispness and lightness, qualities that had been sullied by pollution, smoke and even those swinging censers over the years.

“Some people joke that we may have used too much incense,” said the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

What one remembered as a gloomy expanse of gray now seems more like a forest of lavender, as the grime-free granite and limestone columns are washed in light filtered through newly sparkling stained-glass windows.

The nave will open to the public on Monday. The next day, the first pieces of the cathedral’s great organ are scheduled to arrive by truck from Warrensburg, Mo., where they have been cleaned and restored. The crossing at the center of the cathedral will be closed to permit reinstallation of the organ.

Then, on Nov. 30 — the 67th anniversary of the nave’s dedication — the entire cathedral will be rededicated, bringing a triumphant end to a grim chapter of its history that began Dec. 18, 2001, when a five-alarm fire swept through the north transept. To some, the idea of a well-loved cathedral burning a week before Christmas seemed almost too much to bear, coming so soon after the destruction of the World Trade Center and the crash of American Airlines (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/amr_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org) Flight 587 in Belle Harbor, Queens, in which 265 people died.

The organ was silenced at that time because the cathedral feared that any attempt to play it without a thorough cleaning of the fire damage would only worsen its condition.

During the cleaning of the nave, which required an enormous network of scaffolding, a tunnel-like walkway was built along the central aisle to allow the public to walk through the space without risk of injury. It cut off access from the side aisles and features like the Firemen’s Memorial.

“I miss the firefighters coming in for that memorial,” Dean Kowalski said. “After 9/11, hardly a day would go by when you wouldn’t see firefighters from New York and other parts of the country making a pilgrimage to that.

You forget how important these things are to people.”

When told that an early visitor to the newly resplendent nave had invoked God’s name in astonishment, Dean Kowalski laughed.

“Well, you know, I like hearing that,” he said. “If we can give you anything close to a religious experience, we must be doing something right.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/nyregion/20nave.html?ref=nyregion

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

CoolCzech
August 21st, 2008, 08:34 PM
If only they had manage to finished the church. Oh well, still sort of impressive still.

That's actually the original plan of the cathedral, in neo-Romanesque style. The Cram design featured a design that looked closer to a classic English gothic cathedral... though still incredibly huge. If only they had settled for a building about the size of St. Patrick's, it would have been completed a long time ago.

I do hope that eventually the thing is done, even if it takes another century... and by done, I hope to the Cram design, not some crappy "modern" design that will look dated within a generation, built of inferior material that will rot away as the centuries role by...

antinimby
October 13th, 2008, 01:49 PM
Gleaming...

http://img123.imageshack.us/img123/136/img0221fv6.jpg

ablarc
October 14th, 2008, 07:36 AM
^ Meets earth and sky with equal tedium.

(And the in-between: what can you possibly say about that?)

Stroika
October 14th, 2008, 09:17 AM
This is the absolute No. 1 dream building for destruction in my book. I can't think of a better building to knock down in this city and long for the day when a civic-minded billionaire buys this cancer and knocks it down to restore the parkland next to the Cathedral.

Right down the street, the colossi on the western side of the rotary at 110th and CPW also need to be destroyed... and the gas station opposite them... This area is HURTING.

Unfortunately, developers' answers to this is to let those monstrosities stay -- and multiply -- by destroying the beautiful older tenements and apts. along the park on 110th and to the north.

In this economy, I guess we can only hope that low-quality, low-cost developers, who have propelled the castle-in-the-sky economy of the Bush Era, will soon be seen as the debt-bloated, economic and aesthetic terrorists they are!

NoyokA
October 14th, 2008, 01:40 PM
Its a crime on the City. The grounds of St. John's used to be a hidden jewel, with this monstrosity it is no longer the case.

brianac
October 16th, 2008, 06:02 AM
Stop by Stop, Cathedral’s Organ Is Reassembled After a 2001 Fire

By JAMES BARRON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/james_barron/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 15, 2008

This is about a crate the size of a side-by-side refrigerator that was delivered to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (http://www.stjohndivine.org/index.html) the other day. A crate with a bottle of bourbon hidden inside.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/15/nyregion/organ.650.jpgG. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
Since midsummer, installers have been placing the 8,500 pipes the console organ controls in chambers above the choir stalls at the eastern end of St. John the Divine.

The liquor was for the crew hired to wrestle into place the other thing in the crate, the cathedral’s new organ console: 1,800 pounds of keyboards, slender wooden foot pedals and knob-like drawstops. By the time the bourbon was discovered, the dozen men had hoisted the console 20 feet in the air, floated it over a stone parapet and guided it onto a balcony above a choir stall.

The console, and the thousands of organ pipes that have just been installed in the granite-and-limestone archways above, are the latest sign of a painstaking $41 million reconstruction brought on by a fire seven days before Christmas in 2001.

The blaze apparently started in a power strip in the gift shop. It gutted the north transept and left much of the soaring, Romanesque- and Gothic-style sanctuary grimy from smoke. It also seriously damaged two 17th-century Italian tapestries from a set of 12 depicting the life of Christ.

The cleanup started immediately, and after draining away several inches of water that had pooled on the stone floor by the time the firefighters packed up their hoses, church officials worked out a restoration plan — no small project in a cathedral 601 feet long. Lately the pace has accelerated because of a self-imposed deadline: Officials plan to open the full cathedral on Nov. 30, for the first time since the fire.

That means the wooden divider that went up in March 2005 will finally come down. It sealed off about half the cathedral. For the first couple of years, the services took place in the eastern end, the section housing the pulpit, the altar and choir stalls, while construction crews worked in the western half.

The workers and the worshipers changed places in July.

Last week, two workers in hard hats took down sheets of plywood that had surrounded the tall marble pulpit, with its statues of Isaiah and St. John the Baptist, among others. And the organ console was moved into place.

Since midsummer, installers had been placing the 8,500 pipes the console controls in chambers above the choir stalls at the eastern end of St. John the Divine. All 8,500 were taken out over six weeks in 2005 and shipped to Missouri to be cleaned by Quimby Pipe Organs (http://www.quimbypipeorgans.com/), which builds and restores instruments like the one from St. John the Divine.

“Everything in the organ had soot that was almost like printer’s ink,” said Douglass Hunt, the organ curator at the cathedral and the project consultant on the restoration. “It was oily because it was roofing material that had burned.”

The 98-year-old organ had a distinguished lineage. It was originally designed by a legend in the world of pipe organs, Ernest M. Skinner, who also built organs at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, at Symphony Hall in Boston, at Severance Hall in Cleveland and at the Princeton University (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/p/princeton_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org) Chapel, among many others. The instrument at St. John the Divine was significantly enlarged in the 1950s by G. Donald Harrison, after Mr. Skinner’s company had become Aeolian-Skinner.

But its inner workings had needed updating even before the fire. Mr. Hunt recommended building a new console as more practical than fitting new parts into the old one, even though the church wanted the refurbished instrument to be as much like the original as possible.

So the new console looks like the old one, with a heavy oak case. “We could probably put them side by side, and they’d be identical,” Mr. Hunt said. “It’s the same organ.”

The two damaged tapestries, also, have been cleaned and restored, as far as is possible, said Jonathan Korzen, a spokesman for St. John the Divine. “The conservators can’t recreate what was lost to fire,” he said.

Instead, he explained, they will mount the remaining part of each tapestry on “essentially a blueprint of what the original tapestry was, so you see what the damaged parts did look like.”

He said that the two damaged tapestries would eventually be displayed, but that two others were scheduled to go up in time for the service next month.

As for the mechanical controls inside the organ console, they are brand-new, and the church decided it should face the other way. On the old console, the organist faced the choir, even though he or she could not see the conductor from the console’s perch on the balcony.

That position had a more serious disadvantage, Mr. Hunt said: The organist could not hear the organ well. Facing the new console in the other direction would solve that problem.

“It gets the organist’s ears out from under the arch,” he said.

The organist will still need a mirror or closed-circuit television monitor to see the conductor’s downbeats.

That left the problem of how to get the new console onto the balcony.

For that, Quimby turned to the Organ Clearing House (http://www.organclearinghouse.com/), a Massachusetts company that was created to move old pipe organs into new homes when churches decommissioned them. It made its name for doing heavy lifting on jobs involving organ parts as delicate as an egg.

At St. John the Divine, the Organ Clearing House crew set up tubular scaffolding and a winch in a walkway beneath the balcony. But the winch had a weight limit of 1,200 pounds. Amory Atkin, the president of Organ Clearing House, and Mr. Hunt had to guess how much weight they could save if they took the console apart.

They lifted the refrigerator-size console first, still attached to the bottom of its wooden crate. Mr. Hunt stood beneath the scaffold, watching.

There was nothing to worry about, as the console did not tip as it went up. It had to be squeezed into a space the size of a small bedroom, about 10 ½ feet wide by 9 feet deep. It fit, with more than a foot to spare.

Then, the Organ Clearing House crew had to pull away what was left of the crate. That was when the crew members noticed a compartment in the crate that said, “To be removed after the console is installed.”

They found the bottle of Jim Beam inside.

Mr. Hunt offered to go and find some ice. Mr. Atkin said thanks, but no thanks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/16/nyregion/16organ.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

brianac
November 27th, 2008, 07:34 PM
Then/Now

A Cathedral Restored, Refurbished and, Soon, Rededicated

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/david_w_dunlap/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: November 26, 2008

Anyone who has marveled at the patient perseverance of medieval city dwellers — who watched their cathedrals grow by fits and starts over the decades, knowing they would never behold completion with their own eyes — will appreciate this tableau on Amsterdam Avenue.

THEN and NOW pictures HERE (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/nyregion/27thennow.html?ref=nyregion)

Progress comes slowly at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cathedral_church_of_st_john_the_divine_nyc/index.html).
Note that the south tower, known formally as “St. Paul” (the north tower being “St. Peter”), has grown — just a bit — since the first photograph was taken in 1978, for Paul Goldberger (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/paul_goldberger/index.html)’s architectural guidebook, “The City Observed: New York.”

That 55-foot-2-inch addition required 10 years, from 1982 to 1992; as fast as the hands of apprentice masons could fashion blocks of blond limestone into vibrant neo-Gothic forms.

The growth of the south tower represented the first major spurt of construction at the cathedral since World War II. It may be the last that will be witnessed by anyone alive today.

On the feast day of St. John, Dec. 27, 1892, the cornerstone was laid for a Romanesque Revival cathedral, designed by Heins & LaFarge, to serve the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The crossing was consecrated in 1911, when Ralph Adams Cram was chosen to redesign the building in Gothic style. The cathedral was not dedicated until Nov. 30, 1941, on completion of the nave. One week later, the United States was brought into World War II by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Construction did not resume in earnest until 1982. It began joyously, with a high-wire performance by Philippe Petit. It ended dismally in 1994 with the bankruptcy of Cathedral Stoneworks, a company that was established to supply the cathedral and other building projects.

More tribulations were in store. On Dec. 18, 2001, fire gutted the north transept, ruining two 17th-century tapestries hanging in the adjoining crossing, blackening whole swaths of the cathedral (including the colorful baptistry) and rendering the great organ unplayable.

After seven years of restoration and refurbishing, the cathedral is to be rededicated on Sunday. Everyone is welcome inside (http://www.stjohndivine.org/Portalhomepage_000.html). But contemplation of the outside is worth a moment, too.

The short-lived construction project of the 1980s rendered the main facade resolutely asymmetrical. (Once again, Peter was robbed to pay Paul.) While this might offend Cram’s vision, it has also secured St. John’s pedigree as a true New Yorker: ambitious, audacious, ever-changing, indomitable and more than a little bit eccentric.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/nyregion/27thennow.html?ref=nyregion

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

brianac
November 30th, 2008, 07:24 AM
November 29, 2008
Highlights of a Cathedral’s Rehabilitation

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine will reopen in its entirety on Sunday for the first time since a fire in 2001. The gift shop, where the fire started, was gutted, but most of the church’s possessions and structures have been cleaned or restored. (Related Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/nyregion/30cathedral.html))

INTERACTIVE FEATURE (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/11/29/nyregion/1129_STJOHN_GRAPHIC.html)

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

NYC4Life
November 30th, 2008, 05:32 PM
Perhaps, the most overlooked Cathedral in the city. Glad to see it fully restored.

Merry
April 14th, 2012, 08:34 AM
Unfinished at the Cathedral

By EDDIE SMALL

For decades, New York City has considered designating the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a landmark. But city landmark officials wanted to wait until the cathedral—under construction since 1892—was "finished."

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-BP064_BLOCK_DV_20120412154510.jpg
Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal
The cathedral viewed from Amsterdam Avenue

But talk about landmark status for the perpetually unfinished Episcopal church is starting to percolate again, as developers ready plans for a new apartment building on leased cathedral property along 113th Street in Morningside Heights.

Real-estate firm Equity Residential hopes to start construction on the 15-story apartment building next year. The new structure's footprint would be some 70 feet north of the cathedral itself, replacing large metal sheds and parking spaces in the area now.

Church officials maintain that completing its "real-estate initiative"—as they call an apartment building already open at the southeast corner of the cathedral property as well as plans for another one on the north side—are an economic necessity to provide revenue for the cash-strapped cathedral.

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-BP068_NYBLOC_G_20120412180315.jpg


The real-estate income "has a huge impact on our capacity both to operate the cathedral, maintain our mission and, really importantly, do the work we need to do on the cathedral building itself," said Stephen Facey, the cathedral's executive vice president. Now that the real-estate initiative is almost complete, he said the cathedral could renew discussion about landmark status for the cathedral and the rest of its grounds.

Some preservationists and area residents argue that such overtures already will be too late.

"It's just very unfortunate that what was a beautiful open space is now going to be taken up with some commercial development," said Christabel Gough, an officer of the volunteer group Society for Architecture of the City. "What we're concerned about is being able to see the cathedral."

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-BP066_BLOCK_G_20120412155047.jpg
Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal
An entrance to Morningside Park

Efforts to landmark the cathedral are as storied as the imposing building itself. The Landmarks Preservation Commission first formally considered designating it shortly after city landmark legislation was enacted in 1966, and it placed the entire 11.3-acre cathedral campus—also known as "the close"—under consideration in 1979. But on both occasions, the commission decided to hold off on the landmark designation until the cathedral was "finished."

In 2003, the commission decided it was time. It also decided to remove the campus's two future building sites from landmark consideration to help the cathedral raise enough money to pay for repairs.

Though the cathedral endorsed the commission's decision, some neighbors, led by then-City Council member Bill Perkins, objected. They argued that designating the cathedral a landmark while keeping sites on its campus open to development was inadequate.

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-SO714_Browse_G_20120412225102.jpg

"If the cathedral and the close deserve to be protected as landmarked, then why did the city exempt two elements of the landmark?" said Michael Henry Adams, an aide to Mr. Perkins, now a state senator.

Mr. Perkins persuaded his colleagues to unanimously reject the commission's proposal for St. John the Divine, a power little used by the council. Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the council's rejection, but the council overrode this as well, a vote even rarer than overturning the commission's initial plan.

The moves and countermoves left the cathedral still without landmark protection, and the commission hasn't taken any major steps toward landmarking the cathedral or its campus since 2003. But the commission now is "actively reviewing the timeline for designating the important historic resources at the site," according to landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon.
Since 2003, the cathedral has moved ahead with its development plans but only on the two sites that the commission had voted to remove from landmark consideration.
It awarded a 99-year lease to AvalonBay Communities Inc. for construction of a 20-story apartment building at the corner of Morningside Drive and Cathedral Parkway, which was completed in 2008. The building provides $2.7 million in annual income for the cathedral, according to Mr. Facey.

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NY-BP063_BLOCK_G_20120412154405.jpg
Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal
The northern side of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's campus along 113th Street where a residential building is planned.

At the leased site on the north side of the campus between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive, Equity Residential selected Handel Architects to design the planned apartment building and hopes to start construction in early 2013, depending on when building permits and construction documents are received.

Cathedral officials have set certain restrictions for the new building, including holding the new development's height to about 145 feet—the same as the eave line of the cathedral—and protecting certain street views of the cathedral.

The new building "will respect the architectural legacy of the cathedral, but anything designed and built will be 'modern' and not neo-Gothic or a mini-cathedral," the Very Rev. James Kowalski, the cathedral's dean, said in an interview. He said the building's design "should be available for review in the next few months."

Overall, Dean Kowalski said he supports landmarking St. John the Divine. "I think having the cathedral landmarked just clarifies what most people think anyway," he said.

Mr. Perkins said he is willing to work with cathedral officials on alternative ways for them to meet their financial needs, but he hasn't changed his stance since 2003 on wanting the entire campus landmarked.

"My position today is basically the same," he said recently.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577321581612779556.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/realestate/07post.html?_r=2&ref=realestate (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577321581612779556.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection)

Merry
April 17th, 2012, 07:04 AM
Building Up Close

St. John the Divine unveils latest development proposal.

by Tatum Taylor

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/image/st_john_divine_02.jpg
Massing plan for the north site along 113th Street. Courtesy Handel Architects

In the 120 years since its cornerstone was laid, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has gained repute for not only its exemplary Gothic Revival architecture but also its perpetual state of incompletion. Now the development of the cathedral grounds, called the “close,” continues the cathedral’s association with construction. A deal with the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2003, which led the City Council to overturn the cathedral’s landmark designation, allowed St. John to lease sites on the north and southeast perimeters of the close to developers. A 20-story residential building on the southeast site, at 110th Street and Morningside Drive, opened in 2008 amid criticism of its size and aesthetic. Plans are progressing to break ground in 2013 on the north site, along 113th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive, for a controversial second residential tower.



http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/st_john_divine_01.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/st_john_divine_01.jpg)
A site plan showing the development proposal on the north side of the church.



At a recent public forum, the cathedral unveiled initial massing studies to over 60 community members. Cathedral dean James Kowalski explained that, despite fund-raising and efforts to contain administrative costs, the cathedral operates at a 10 percent deficit. With ongoing financial obligations, including repairs to the church building, Kowalski asserted that development was necessary to “preserve the economic future of the cathedral.”

George Kruse from developer Equity Residential addressed community concerns about including subsidized housing, involving local businesses, and facilitating local residents’ labor union membership. In particular, he noted that of the 400 units in the planned building, 20 percent will be reserved for affordable housing. Gary Handel of Handel Architects presented the firm’s massing studies; further details of the building’s design remain in progress.

Several attendees praised efforts to minimize the building’s bulk and use the site, which currently houses stonecutting sheds from the 1980s, to integrate the close with the surrounding community. Still, many residents of Morningside Heights expressed such concerns as the building’s potential to increase neighborhood crowding and the environmental impact on traffic, noise, and light. Michael Henry Adams spoke on behalf of state senator Bill Perkins, who opposes the construction proposal, and expressed his own conviction that the cathedral merits more respect as a world-class landmark. “If we were in Paris, at Notre Dame, would someone propose this?” he said. “The answer, of course, is no.”

At the time, Kowalski could not confirm whether the cathedral intends to hold additional community forums, as he expects a short time frame for the design process. “Could it be started in six months or a year? I would hope so,” he said.

http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5991

antinimby
April 17th, 2012, 01:52 PM
That acts like a wall. Why not build a taller, slender building on a corner of the site instead?

ZippyTheChimp
April 17th, 2012, 02:35 PM
I had forgotten that this was being done. Depressing.

oquatanginwan
April 17th, 2012, 04:37 PM
The Avalon on 110th is a total abomination and ruined a pretty dramatic rock bluff. This probably won't be any better. It'd be great if they made a neo-gothic style development. I doubt it though.

EastMillinocket
October 31st, 2013, 02:42 PM
113th Street Wall:
14 floors
428 units

http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2013/10/st-john-divine-development-plan-1383231864578.jpg/extralarge.jpg

http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2013/10/st-john-divine-development-plan-13832311526041.jpg/extralarge.jpg

http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2013/10/st-john-divine-development-plan-13832310917729.jpg/extralarge.jpg

Source: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131031/morningside-heights/developers-reveal-plans-for-high-rise-next-st-john-divine

Merry
November 3rd, 2013, 01:54 AM
Talk about squeeze it in just to make a buck. Outrageous.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5273a775f92ea11c0a01be21/stjohn2.jpg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/5273a773f92ea11c0a01be17/stjohn3.jpg

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/11/01/st_john_the_divine_will_be_getting_14story_apartme nt_tower.php

lofter1
November 3rd, 2013, 03:02 PM
A really terrible plan.

DUMBRo
November 3rd, 2013, 05:48 PM
Horrendous.

EastMillinocket
January 17th, 2014, 01:20 PM
DNAinfo
http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140117/morningside-heights/st-john-divine-campus-could-be-landmarked-deal-with-cb-9

St. John the Divine Campus Could be Landmarked in Deal With CB 9By Jeff Mays (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/about-us/our-team/editorial-team/jeff-mays) on January 17, 2014 11:08am
HARLEM—The Cathedral of St. John the Divine could finally gain landmark status under a deal between the church, Community Board 9 and the developers of a new 14-story building set to be built alongside the cathedral.

Community Board 9 approved a resolution Thursday night that asks the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the entire cathedral campus except for a cut-out on a north lot where the Brodsky Organization is partnering with the church to build a 14-story, 428-unit apartment building (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131031/morningside-heights/developers-reveal-plans-for-high-rise-next-st-john-divine) that the church is counting on to fund repairs, upgrades and it's ongoing operations.

In exchange, the Brodsky Organization has agreed to commit 35 percent of the building cost to minority, women and local businesses, said the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, chair of Community Board 9.

"We helped the church and helped the community in doing it this way," said Morgan-Thomas. "It may not be the ideal thing because none of us want to see anything but the cathedral and the campus but the reality is the cathedral and the campus won't be maintained otherwise."

Church officials have said that the 121-year-old Gothic Revival cathedral is in need of millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades that fundraising alone will never be able to match. After spending $8 to $10 million to develop service roads, the cathedral officials have said they will net $5 million per year from the new construction.

St. John's has resisted efforts to landmark the entire campus for at least 10 years but has said the church itself could be landmarked.

During that time, the church leased land on 110th Street and Morningside Avenue that used to be part of the campus to developers who built Avalon Morningside Park, a 20-story luxury apartment building, in 2007.

Opponents of this new project, to be located on Amsterdam Avenue and 113th Street, say that it ruins views of the cathedral and disrespects a nationally recognized building.

"This new building is only 40 feet from the church and as high as the church. It's out of place and outrageous," said Walter South, former Landmarks Committee chair of CB 9 who voted against the plan which passed by a vote of 29 to 12.
South said he doesn't buy the cathedral's argument about needing funds to maintain the remaining campus.

"It's like taking your wife's engagement ring down to the pawn shop," said South. "Why would you mortgage your future and not try national fundraising to save the building and campus?"

Handel Architects who designed the new building where rents will start at $1,700 has said the design of the modern glass structure will feature cutouts to create sight lines of the cathedral's transept.

Another separate, smaller building, part of the north site development, will sit slightly east on West 113th Street and the two buildings will be connected by stairs.

But with this agreement, said Morgan-Thomas, the community will benefit from the construction of the building and have a tool to stop any future attempts of development on the campus.

Preservationist can also use the cathedral landmarking to fight for a Morningside Heights Historic District, she said.

"If we don't landmark this entire campus what's to stop them from five to seven years from now saying we need to build something else?" asked Morgan-Thomas. "What we are looking to do is protect the campus, protect its majesty, so there won't be continued development."

BPC
January 17th, 2014, 05:56 PM
an abomination

Merry
April 8th, 2014, 08:48 AM
Complaints Build as a Cathedral Project Begins Its Rise

By JAMES BARRON
APRIL 4, 2014

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/04/05/nyregion/05CATHERDRAL1web/05CATHERDRAL1web-master675.jpg
A long-delayed project to build a second apartment complex by the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has started.
Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Laurie Frey heard jackhammers one morning this week and raced down the block to find demolition workers preparing to cut down the tall trees on the lot next to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. She realized what the power saws meant: A project to build a second apartment complex on the cathedral grounds was finally beginning.

For Ms. Frey, the removal of the trees this week and the arrival of the bulldozers and dump trucks were signs that the landscape around the cathedral was about to change dramatically. Some in the neighborhood accuse the cathedral of greed, and community groups that are fighting the 430-apartment development have scheduled a protest rally on Saturday morning in front of the cathedral, on Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street.

“Once it’s done, it’s huge and permanent,” said Laura Friedman, president of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, which is fighting the new complex. “It’s monstrous. They’ll realize when it’s built, what a shame it is that it exists.”

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/04/05/nyregion/05CATHERDRAL2web/05CATHERDRAL2web-articleLarge.jpg
An artist rendering of the disputed apartment development near the cathedral, which is at
Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street. Credit Handel Architects LLP

Cathedral officials say they need the revenue from the apartment project, just as they needed the money from a 20-story apartment building that went up several years ago on a different corner of the cathedral’s 11-acre campus in Morningside Heights in Manhattan. They also say the new project will bring more affordable housing to the neighborhood, because 87 of the 430 apartments will be rented at below-market rates.

The project has renewed criticism of a 2003 deal between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and St. John the Divine that allowed the church to lease land. Opponents say the plan will harm the neighborhood in ways the first apartments did not.

A subcommittee of Ms. Friedman’s group, Friends of St. John the Divine, has collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition opposing the new project, which from the street will appear to be two separate 15-story structures. They will occupy a common base running almost all the way down West 113th Street from Amsterdam Avenue to Morningside Drive, close to the cathedral’s north wall and the transept that was gutted by a fire in 2001.

How close is a matter of dispute between the cathedral and the opponents, who also say the new complex will block some views of the cathedral, especially from Amsterdam Avenue and from Morningside Park.

They say it will add to traffic congestion because the entrance to a 193-car garage under the complex will be across from the emergency room entrance to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

But J. Dean Amro, a principal of the developer chosen by the cathedral to build and operate the complex, noted that a 100-space parking lot had occupied part of the site for years.

Opponents also question why the developer, the Brodsky Organization, hired Breeze of Brooklyn to do the demolition work at the site. Breeze was the contractor on a West Harlem project where a worker died (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/nyregion/contractor-offers-explanation-for-building-collapse-in-west-harlem.html) in a building collapse in 2012.

Mr. Amro said Brodsky had hired Breeze for other recent projects, which it had completed satisfactorily.

“The cathedral’s being an atrocious neighbor,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat who has represented the neighborhood since 2003. “They just want to make the most money possible, and if you just want to make the most money possible, you are a for-profit real estate developer and should be treated as such by the law.”

“If they continue to proceed,” he added, “I will proceed to treat them as an enemy of our neighborhood.”

Some neighbors say tensions lingered after the apartments opened in 2008 at Morningside Drive and 110th Street, on the southeast corner of the cathedral campus. “Many of us swallowed really hard when the first building got proposed and we said, ‘I guess you really have to,’ ” Mr. O’Donnell said.

Brad W. Taylor, a member of Community Board 9 and the president of Friends of Morningside Park, said he too had supported the first building, but like Mr. O’Donnell, was against this one.
“This new site is qualitatively different,” Mr. Taylor said.

The dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. James A. Kowalski, said urban sites like the cathedral’s had to be “adaptive.” As for Mr. Taylor, Dean Kowalski said, “Nothing I’ve been able to say to him persuades him that what we think is accurate. What you have here is people who keep repeating things — ‘You’re desecrating the cathedral.’ ”

Dean Kowalski said the 99-year lease for the first apartment provided about $2.7 million in income for St. John the Divine. Mr. Amro said the new complex would generate a similar amount. St. John the Divine’s operating budget is $11 million to $12 million a year, Dean Kowalski said, adding that there was typically a deficit, which could run as high as $800,000 a year.

Mr. Taylor noted that Community Board 9 last year urged the cathedral to do a study on the complex’s environmental effects.

“We believed it’s just a delaying tactic,” Dean Kowalski said, “and so we didn’t do it.”

Dean Kowalski said the cathedral’s trustees had decided to pursue a development strategy before he arrived 12 years ago. “The question was, if the cathedral was not supposed to be like a Salisbury Cathedral in the middle of land but an urban cathedral with buildings that had been built and were deteriorating, what would be the best use of the land to advance the mission of the cathedral,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/nyregion/complaints-build-as-a-cathedral-project-begins-its-rise.html

Merry
April 8th, 2014, 08:51 AM
Construction of Two Towers Imminent at St. John the Divine

by Zoe Rosenberg

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/handel%20st%20john%20the%20divine-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/handel%20st%20john%20the%20divine.jpg)
[Image courtesy of West Side Rag and DNA Info via Handel Architects.]

Neighborhood residents and politicians alike are bracing themselves for the construction of two new towers coming to the campus of Harlem's St. John the Divine (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/st-john-the-divine), following the site's clearing and preparation for construction. In its cash-strapped state, the church has agreed to a 99-year lease on the land to developers the Brodsky Organization (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/brodsky-organization). Plans for the Handel Architects (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/handel-architects)-designed site include two 14-story towers that will hold 428 apartments between them, 87 of which will be affordable and renting from $696 per month. The remaining market-rate apartments will begin around $1,700 per month. West Side Rag notes that because Brodsky Organization did not need special zoning permits for the project, the development did not go through a public hearing process.

Those who support preserving the church's grounds point out that construction will obscure the stained glass windows and sculpture along the church's West 113th Street exposure. Despite the building's delineation by Fodor's as the world's largest Gothic-style cathedral, the church and its grounds are not landmarked. That is—yet. In late January, Community Board 9 passed a resolution to landmark the church's campus (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/22/fight_over_st_john_the_divine_apartment_tower_gett ing_tense.php#more), but for the portion that has already been carved out for the Brodsky Organization's development. While the construction of the two new towers is imminent, there's hope yet that the site will see no further development.

Land Cleared for Apartment Complexes Abutting the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (http://www.westsiderag.com/2014/03/27/construction-of-apartment-complexes-starts-at-cathedral-of-st-john-the-divine) [West Side Rag]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/04/07/construction_of_two_towers_imminent_at_st_john_the _divine.php#comment-1585754

GordonGecko
April 8th, 2014, 11:23 AM
Yeah well what are you gonna do. That church takes a fortune to maintain and it's not like donations / parishioners are on the rise

Derek2k3
April 8th, 2014, 02:12 PM
This may seem like rocket science to our planning, real estate bodies and community groups but couldn't the new building be built in a way that complements the majestic cathedral?

Just a few blocks up, Riverside Church's campanile tower is a beautifully disguised office tower. St. John's has a dozens unbuilt tower proposals of its own to take precedence from.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7225/13720374925_2c6bd98bfb_c.jpg


https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3700/13720362685_9550f1aa12_c.jpg


But a long wall of aluminium panels and windows blocking the entire northern elevation of the cathedral is the best they can do?


Are the community groups so futility hellbent on killing the tower and focused on height, that the design of the new building became an afterthought? What a sorry state we're in for preservation, planning, and design. Just a lack of imagination from all sides.

GordonGecko
April 8th, 2014, 02:41 PM
have to agree. It's pretty clear that the powers that be here are perhaps inspired by god but lack any sort of architectural inspiration whatsoever

TREPYE
April 8th, 2014, 02:47 PM
Building Up Close

St. John the Divine unveils latest development proposal.

by Tatum Taylor

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/image/st_john_divine_02.jpg
Massing plan for the north site along 113th Street. Courtesy Handel Architects

http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5991


F*** .... I had not idea about this; I wish I could've unseen it.

Uneffingbelievable. A deliberately distasteful occlussion of art... its horrible enough that we get it at the skyline level with all the junk that gets put up, now we have to bear it at street level????

Merry
June 5th, 2014, 12:34 PM
St. John the Divine's Hated Residential Tower, Revealed (Sorta)

by Hana R. Alberts

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/St%20John%20the%20Divine%20Residential%20Tower-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/St%20John%20the%20Divine%20Residential%20Tower.jpg )

Harlem Bespoke walked by St. John the Divine and noted that the blue plywood is up and a rendering has been posted (http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2014/06/architecture-residential-at-st-john.html) for the church's controversial towers (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/st-john-the-divine). It only shows the ground level and part of the facades of both buildings, but it's enough to see that it doesn't look very old-historic-brick-church-y. This is the first we've seen of the two apartment buildings, which were previously represented (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/04/07/construction_of_two_towers_imminent_at_st_john_the _divine.php) as diagrammatic red rectangles. The verdict? Take it away (http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2014/06/architecture-residential-at-st-john.html), neighborhood blogger HB:

It appears that the church also fondly known as St. John the Unfinished has worked with the developer to have some sort of side entrance to be built as part of the plan but it all somehow looks very 1960s and non-contextual. When done right, something modern like the glass pyramid at The Louvre in Paris can often compliment a grand work of old architecture but this new addition located between Amsterdam and Morningside Drive is rather heavy-handed in our opinion.



Neighbors, it's your turn (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/22/fight_over_st_john_the_divine_apartment_tower_gett ing_tense.php).

Architecture: Residential at St. John the Divine (http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2014/06/architecture-residential-at-st-john.html) [Harlem Bespoke]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/06/03/st_john_the_divines_hated_residential_tower_reveal ed_sorta.php

BPC
June 5th, 2014, 08:32 PM
I agree with the above. If this horrid development must proceed, then I would favor two all-glass boxes, as a nice contrast with the Church. The above is am abomination.

antinimby
June 7th, 2014, 01:45 PM
The problem is that they aren't doing quality glass up in this part of town (see the Avalon). You'd get the reflective, wavy, cheap-looking glass which in the end would be just as bad.

Merry
October 18th, 2014, 05:41 AM
Grrrrrr :mad:


Revive: Finished Foundation at Divine Residential

by Ulysses

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gVUsxOJY4gI/VEEReqZe8vI/AAAAAAAAmzU/7xrAOetAkQc/s1600/IMG_0070.JPG (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gVUsxOJY4gI/VEEReqZe8vI/AAAAAAAAmzU/7xrAOetAkQc/s1600/IMG_0070.JPG)


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PwNtJBZxUw0/VEERelYwxkI/AAAAAAAAmzY/1nwjUlK2uKE/s1600/IMG_0071.JPG (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PwNtJBZxUw0/VEERelYwxkI/AAAAAAAAmzY/1nwjUlK2uKE/s1600/IMG_0071.JPG)


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BSRbjl9XDhU/VEERe6qjG_I/AAAAAAAAmzc/K-FdY3r6YVs/s1600/IMG_9472.jpg (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BSRbjl9XDhU/VEERe6qjG_I/AAAAAAAAmzc/K-FdY3r6YVs/s1600/IMG_9472.jpg)


The new residential towers being built on the grounds of St. John the Divine by Amsterdam and 113th Street has been making some major progress since breaking ground just months ago.

Walking by the site this past week, we noticed that most of the foundation has been poured and now a few of the facade pieces have arrived on site. DOB paperwork has it that the final buildings will be 15 floors altogether and a total of 430 units will arrive in the area. This new construction will probably be rentals since the church had a rental tower built further south during the previous real estate boom and apparently needs the funds to keep things going on the unfinished grounds.

http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/revive-finished-foundation-at-divine.html

EastMillinocket
October 21st, 2014, 05:36 PM
Why is there an old church in the backyard of those buildings?

stache
October 21st, 2014, 08:09 PM
?

Merry
October 22nd, 2014, 04:22 AM
That "old church" is the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, the subject of this thread :rolleyes:. Those buildings are in its front yard ;).

LeCom
October 22nd, 2014, 09:19 AM
Now let's build concrete condo slabs on Liberty Island right next to Lady Liberty, because, you know, real estate and whatnot. Don't worry, guys, its historic value would not diminish whatsoever. We'll even post pretty renderings of the statue sitting directly in the backyards of these slabs. From some angles, she will be almost visible!

stache
October 22nd, 2014, 10:26 AM
And if we rip out those trees there would be plenty of room for condo towers around the WTC memorial pools!

Music Man
October 22nd, 2014, 10:39 PM
For some reason, those buildings kind of give me a 60's / 70's vibe. Maybe it's the color saturation in the image. I just keep staring at that image and thinking the "futuristic" cars look out of place.

JSsocal
October 22nd, 2014, 11:06 PM
^They do have the aura of a kodachrome or colorized b/w photograph

GordonGecko
October 23rd, 2014, 09:31 AM
sarcasm detectors are broken in here :)

EastMillinocket
January 10th, 2015, 01:31 PM
Construction of the new building next to the church.

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/02/two_rental_towers_rising_painfully_close_to_st_joh n_the_divine.php

The true path to the Jesus is not through the church, however, but through reading the holy Bible.

Merry
March 21st, 2015, 04:16 AM
ARCHITECTURE: DRAMATIC VIEWS AT ST. JOHN

by Ulysses March 18th, 2015

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-keywuvv4yVM/VQl3L0bMiQI/AAAAAAAApH8/3fNxtHwFsNQ/s1600/IMG_5527.jpg (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-keywuvv4yVM/VQl3L0bMiQI/AAAAAAAApH8/3fNxtHwFsNQ/s1600/IMG_5527.jpg)

The two new residential towers are rising up quickly by St. John the Divine and the once picturesque view by the world's largest cathedral on Amsterdam and 113th is dramatically changing each week. We walked by yesterday and took additional photos of the progress at hand. More photos after the jump:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D-i2vf0DTow/VQl3gk9fI5I/AAAAAAAApII/_Y1Us8aQmig/s1600/IMG_5536.jpg (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D-i2vf0DTow/VQl3gk9fI5I/AAAAAAAApII/_Y1Us8aQmig/s1600/IMG_5536.jpg)

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3jvHOese2yA/VQl3hHEfqcI/AAAAAAAApIQ/7txmfCBbK_M/s1600/IMG_5539.jpg (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3jvHOese2yA/VQl3hHEfqcI/AAAAAAAApIQ/7txmfCBbK_M/s1600/IMG_5539.jpg)

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gCCmKNmP0ZM/VQl3gRuUj1I/AAAAAAAApIE/MtE8W6Jdrb4/s1600/IMG_5546.jpg
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gCCmKNmP0ZM/VQl3gRuUj1I/AAAAAAAApIE/MtE8W6Jdrb4/s1600/IMG_5546.jpg)
When architects and city planners built up the modern Harlem over a century ago, the top of Morningside Park was important for it could be seen from all of the side streets below in Central Harlem. What was built back then was considered aesthetically the best that the city had to offer and complemented uptown's Acropolis of architecture crowning the promontory of the public green space. We are not sure if the same can be said about the current situation at the top the park but the new development does look like something out of the golden age of 1970s architecture: LINK (http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com/2014/06/architecture-residential-at-st-john.html)

http://harlembespoke.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/architecture-dramatic-views-at-st-johns.html

oquatanginwan
March 21st, 2015, 12:59 PM
Maybe the most despicable addition to the Morningside Park view since East Campus.

Merry
May 20th, 2015, 02:02 AM
Why would we want to look inside when the outside is so offensive?


Take a Peek Inside St. John the Divine's Contested Rentals

May 19, 2015, by Zoe Rosenberg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a20/2015_05_13_02_54_55_6.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a20/2015_05_13_02_54_55_6.jpg)
BuzzBuzzHome.

First renderings for inside the two conjoined, 428-rental towers rising alongside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/cathedral-of-st-john-the-divine) in Harlem show about as much of the development as is left to see of the 123-year-old church itself (which is to say, not a lot (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/04/28/finally_a_look_at_the_rentals_eclipsing_st_john_th e_divine.php)). It appears the Brodsy Organization-developed undulating towers will go by the name The Enclave at Cathedral, and will be connected by a gallery below the church's new transept stairs, according to renderings spotted by BuzzBuzzHome (http://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/the-enclave-residences-at-cathedral/photos/interior/2015_05_13_02_54_55_5.jpg). The towers will be complete in 2016.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a1d/2015_05_13_02_54_55_5.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a1d/2015_05_13_02_54_55_5.jpg)

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a1a/2015_05_13_02_54_55_3.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a1a/2015_05_13_02_54_55_3.jpg)
Oh look, there's a church here too!

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a14/2015_05_13_02_54_55_1.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/555b4663f92ea12490003a14/2015_05_13_02_54_55_1.jpg)

The Enclave Residences at Cathedral (http://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/the-enclave-residences-at-cathedral/photos/interior/2015_05_13_02_54_55_5.jpg) [BBH]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/05/19/take_a_peek_inside_st_john_the_divines_contested_r entals.php

BPC
May 22nd, 2015, 03:15 PM
They seemed to work hard to make it extra horrid.

Merry
July 16th, 2015, 01:12 AM
Cathedral-Blocking Rental Towers Reach Full Height

July 14, 2015, by Jeremiah Budin

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e1/static1.squarespace-2.jpg
(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e1/static1.squarespace-2.jpg)
Field Condition headed over to the site (http://fieldcondition.com/blog/2015/7/14/cathedral-towers) of the two Brodsky Organization-developed rentals towers at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, dubbed Enclave at the Cathedral, where the conjoined buildings have topped out at 15 stories apiece. The towers controversially sit right in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, rendering it all but invisible from the north much to the chagrin (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/19/controversial_rental_towers_obscure_st_john_the_di vine.php) of local preservationists and archicritics like Michael Kimmelman and Justin Davidson. When completed, the buildings will have a combined 428 rental units, as well as a gallery that connects them (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/05/19/take_a_peek_inside_st_john_the_divines_contested_r entals.php). They are expected to be finished in 2016.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e8/2015_07_03%20Cathedral%20Towers%2002-2.jpg
(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e8/2015_07_03%20Cathedral%20Towers%2002-2.jpg)
http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6dd/static1.squarespace.jpg
(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6dd/static1.squarespace.jpg)
http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e5/static1.squarespace-1.jpg
(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55a5777bf92ea135c800d6e5/static1.squarespace-1.jpg)
Cathedral Towers (http://fieldcondition.com/blog/2015/7/14/cathedral-towers) [Field Condition]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/07/14/cathedralblocking_rental_towers_reach_full_height. php

Merry
August 25th, 2015, 04:24 AM
Why NYC's Most Magnificent Cathedral Is Not Landmarked

August 24, 2015, by Emily Nonko

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/Cathedral_of_St._John-thumb.jpg
Photo by Kripaks/Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Saint_John_the_Divine#/media/File:Cathedral_of_St._John.jpg).

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights, ranks as one of the most impressive cathedrals not just in New York City, but in the world. The elaborate facade towers over Amsterdam Avenue and the building extends a full avenue block down to Morningside Drive. The interior is distinguished by Gothic and Romanesque details, with a massive central dome made of Guastavino tile and 45-foot-tall stained glass windows. It also holds the Guinness Book of World Records' title of 'Largest Cathedral in the World.' The St. John the Divine website (http://www.stjohndivine.org/) sums up its importance: "The Cathedral is more than 120 years old, and remains unfinished. Despite incomplete construction, it is the largest cathedral in the world, making it a global landmark."

Problem is, this building is not a designated New York City landmark. That means that New York's most significant cathedral—deemed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as "one of the great religious structures of the world"—isn't protected by the city at all. It's not for lack of trying, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the cathedral in 2002, but the decision was overturned by the City Council in a greater attempt to landmark the entire, nearly 12-acre site. An inability to do that, however, left the cathedral unprotected and the grounds open for development, hence the two rental towers under construction right next door. (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/07/14/cathedralblocking_rental_towers_reach_full_height. php)

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d35600f92ea17ac601e579/CSJD.Historical_.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d35600f92ea17ac601e579/CSJD.Historical_.jpg)
Photo via the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (http://www.stjohndivine.org/about/history).

Cathedral of St. John the Divine began with a design contest in 1888, which was won by the architectural firm Heins & LaFarge. Construction was complicated due to a difficult site and ambitious plans, which required a vast foundation and crypt. The dedication of the first small section of the cathedral didn't happen until 1911, and then further construction was interrupted by both World Wars. To this day the cathedral remains unfinished, with construction and restoration a continuing process.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d35558f92ea12e380237f4/cathedral-postcard.jpg
(http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d35558f92ea12e380237f4/cathedral-postcard.jpg)
The cathedral occupies a much larger site, known today as the Cathedral Close, bounded by West 110th Street (aka Cathedral Parkway) to the south, Amsterdam Avenue to the west, West 113th Street to the north, and Morningside Drive to the east. Original plans envisioned the entire close as a complex modeled on the Medieval walled cities of Europe, with surrounding ancillary buildings and lots of open park space. Over the years, maintaining the park space didn't happen. As the website New York Architecture (http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/HAR002.htm) pointed out, "The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a great and beautiful landmark inside, but its exterior leaves much to be desired, particularly its surroundings, which were supposed to be green open space... Currently, there are parking lots, construction equipment, and a huge stoneyard."

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d4a405f92ea1158401f016/Cathedral_Saint_John_Divine_NYC.JPG (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d4a405f92ea1158401f016/Cathedral_Saint_John_Divine_NYC.JPG)
Arial view of the close, via Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cathedral_Saint_John_Divine_NYC.JPG).

That the cathedral remains unfinished plays largely into its non-landmark status. The first unsuccessful attempt in landmarking came in the mid 1960s, according to the cathedral's dean, Rev. James A. Kowalski. The trustees of the cathedral fought against landmarking because they didn't want any future development of the structure to be regulated, he said. "How do you landmark something that's not finished?" he asked. "The trustees didn't want those regulations put upon them." Another big problem with a building never being finished? The diocese is perpetually in need of funds for construction and maintenance, which has always made development look like good, cash-friendly opportunity for the cathedral.

The site remained unprotected until 2002, when it came back up for landmark designation. According to Kowalski, the trustees were more open to landmarking the exterior, but asked the LPC to keep two parcels outside of the landmark designation for future development as a way to bring in revenue. Here's what Dean Kowalski explained in his testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission: "It has been [made] painfully clear to me that religious institutions that do not attend to their financial health cannot sustain their own internal responsibilities… Our conversations with developers regarding the under-utilized perimeter parcels are directly connected to our mission as a Cathedral… We do not seek these resources simply to help the Cathedral for its own sake. Rather, we ask support [for] this strategy because the Cathedral has served and will in perpetuity serve a mission that radically embraces all people."

Many members of the public who testified at the hearing argued that the exterior designation did not go far enough; they wanted the entire close landmarked. They argued that the ancillary buildings within the close read as a cohesive ensemble, originally designed to harmonize with one another. (One building on site, the former Leake & Watts Orphan Asylum, is one of the oldest Greek Revival-style institutional buildings in Manhattan and pre-dates the cathedral.) Preservationist also knew that the open space available, along with an existing zoning that allowed for taller buildings, meant development was possible.

"We in the community maintain that the Cathedral is not—and has never been—under threat of demolition, while the larger Close in which it is situated continues to be threatened by the inappropriate developments that we see happening today," said Gregory Dietrich, founder of Gregory Dietrich Preservation Consulting (http://www.gdpreservationconsulting.com/) and an advisor to the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee during the landmarking saga.

The LPC ultimately approved a designation (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/030551.pdf) "limited to the building's exterior," according to the designation report. Looking back on the decision, Dietrich called the decision "a travesty since it did not consider the site's greater significance." Many community members and local pols felt the same way. And in 2003, the City Council voted unanimously against landmark designation for the structure.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d3abd0f92ea11e56013038/sjdprotest.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55d3abd0f92ea11e56013038/sjdprotest.jpg)
A protest outside the cathedral to oppose construction, via Columbia Spectator (http://columbiaspectator.com/news/2014/04/06/politicians-locals-rally-stop-saint-john-divine-apartments-construction).

The decision was led by Bill Perkins, a council member who represented the area. As he told the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/25/nyregion/no-landmark-status-for-st-john-the-divine.html) in 2003, "'It was a declarative statement that St. John the Divine should be landmarked in totality, not piecemeal. It is, quite frankly, an insult to the historical value of this world-renowned church to have it piecemeal like this.'' (Perkins did not respond to requests for comment.)

And so, like in the 1960s, the cathedral remained unprotected—and stayed that way. A new proposal to designate the close never made it to the LPC, and by 2006, the cathedral entered into a 99-year ground lease with AvalonBay to erect a residential building, Avalon Morningside Park (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/avalon-morningside-park), on the southeast site of the close.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db56caf92ea131260075a0/Avalon_Morningside.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db56caf92ea131260075a0/Avalon_Morningside.jpg)
Avalon Morningside Park via Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalon_Morningside_Park).

Then, in 2013, the cathedral released a proposal (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/11/01/st_john_the_divine_will_be_getting_14story_apartme nt_tower.php) to develop a rental building with the Brodsky Organization on the north side of its campus. A new resolution (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/22/fight_over_st_john_the_divine_apartment_tower_gett ing_tense.php) surfaced to landmark the entire cathedral campus except for the portion already carved out for the Brodsky Organization's towers, but it never came through. And, despite much community opposition, development of the towers is now well underway, obscuring views of the church (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/19/controversial_rental_towers_obscure_st_john_the_di vine.php) from the north.

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db5494f92ea11961012a93/1047-Amsterdam-4-777x534.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db5494f92ea11961012a93/1047-Amsterdam-4-777x534.jpg)
Rendering of the development via Handel Architects.

"The money from the developments will help stabilize the cathedral," said Kowalski. "We need the financial resources to support the architecture." The cathedral will get $5 million a year from the new development; Kowalski said that it'll take anywhere from $100 to $200 million to maintain and continue construction of the structure.

Kowalski said that the diocese is still open to designating the cathedral, and that there are no other parcels within the close that have been targeted for development. But Dietrich considers the latest development "the final nail in the coffin of this unofficial world heritage site."

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/660x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db540af92ea12c2600d59d/download.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/55db540af92ea12c2600d59d/download.jpg)
Construction progress two months ago, via Field Condition (http://fieldcondition.com/blog/2015/7/14/cathedral-towers).

As for any future landmarking motion, "I think the community would view the designation of the close as a hollow victory at this point since it has been irrevocably compromised by unsympathetic new development that neither respects nor defers to the historic buildings and spaces," said Dietrich. He still feels, however, that the LPC is likely to designate the cathedral at some point in an effort to designate at least something on the property.

"It probably goes without saying that one could never imagine such developments occurring on the sites of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. or Notre Dame in Paris," he said. "But in NYC, anything is fair game despite the fact that we have one of the strongest preservation laws in the country to prevent travesties such as this."

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/08/24/why_nycs_most_magnificent_cathedral_is_not_landmar ked.php

Statun-Ilandur
August 28th, 2015, 02:28 PM
For a church organization whose NYC R/E portfolio is worth in the billions, The Cathedral is an unwanted project and drain on capital resources. Even a remote desire to landmark would cut off possible funds from these curtain wall structures being built around it to I think help to forget it. Everybody turns away from gazing at UGLY. The change from the late eighties and the desire to start the stone work again is a managerial decision, same as the decision to currently desist in that temporary going forward vision. Structural reinforcements sounds like such an easy cushy way to make cash that cannot really be accounted for.

THE OBSCENE Cultural Rape of the community by greed at the Cathedral Close at present with these modern structures means nothing in the long term building timeline of any great cathedral. I look at the Ugly Modern architecture as metaphoric scaffolding and can be gotten rid on in a decade or two and torn down in a month or two. The will to finish the great building sadly is not there. Modern men have little vision or imagination or even much of a touch of spirituality I fear.

ASchwarz
August 29th, 2015, 03:08 PM
For a church organization whose NYC R/E portfolio is worth in the billions, The Cathedral is an unwanted project and drain on capital resources.

This church has little money. They couldn't even afford to renovate the church after the fire, and they have no way of actually completing the church. I have no idea where you came up with the idea that they have hidden "billions".



THE OBSCENE Cultural Rape of the community by greed at the Cathedral Close at present with these modern structures means nothing in the long term building timeline of any great cathedral.

LOL! The new buildings were built on what was a parking lot. The Cathedral Close was never touched. It's 1000 times better than before.

The only reason that there was any "controversy" is because NIMBY neighbors didn't want their views blocked from new apartment buildings. Otherwise, they don't care. They don't even want the church landmarked anymore; they just previously wanted the parking lot sites landmarked so buildings could be blocked.

Statun-Ilandur
August 29th, 2015, 04:31 PM
It has been decades since I lived in “NIMBY” whatever that PC RE anglo-elitist term truly represents. HongKong-ization of the neighborhood, covering everything over with square footage – living and work “space” seems now to be a norm. I only hope they don’t sell the air rights to the cathedral and cover it all in a cocoon of concrete like Chernobyl or MSG as in the case of the old Penn Station. Best to hide the disaster perhaps. Beauty is in indeed in the eyes of the beholder or those condemned to remember a kinder, gentler, more peaceful piece of landscape on Amsterdam Avenue. Or best at this terminal of history to just demolish it I think and make more modern function and more parking space for Columbia?

BPC
August 30th, 2015, 01:01 PM
LOL! ...The Cathedral Close was never touched. It's 1000 times better than before.

I must respectfully disagree. Perhaps we could debate about whether this lovely new building has made the Cathedral Close 998x or 999x better than before, but 1000x better than before? Sir, that just goes too far.

GordonGecko
August 31st, 2015, 12:06 AM
Everybody loves to appropriate these churches under public architectural ownership but the reality is that these are private organizations who own them and they have to be cash flow positive to stay "in business", whether that business involves selling goods and services or involves saving souls. I don't see anyone clamoring for the city to purchase these old churches and cathedrals and pay for operations and maintenance

treebeard
August 31st, 2015, 07:34 PM
a business which is not taxed