Sorry, I didn't make it clear: when I said, "what's to discuss," I was referring to buildings over 150 years old.
A building that's 150 is one built before 1860.
I may never enjoy this in my lifetime but I sure would like my grandchildren to.
Perharps the blanket protection should only apply to a pre WWII (1940)structure that turns 150.
Last edited by TREPYE; January 29th, 2010 at 04:49 PM.
Sorry, I didn't make it clear: when I said, "what's to discuss," I was referring to buildings over 150 years old.
A building that's 150 is one built before 1860.
I think Trepye was clear on the implication: That as postwar (WWII, not Civil) buildings turn 150, they too would be landmarked under a law that landmarks all buildings as they turn 150. As I understood him, he wasn't imputing anything extraneous to your comment but merely saying that this law should be limited to pre-WWII structures.
I'd say forget the 150 years and landmark every pre-WWII building today, preserving the good and encouraging the phasing out of so much of the postwar junkheap of buildings that bring down quality of life for everyone in the city.
Though I can easily grasp the sentiment that gave rise to it, I can't be at all sure of its inevitable long-term truth.
History (and especially aesthetic history) resists such long term prognostications.
The next exhibition at AIA:
'Modernism at Risk' Coming to New York in 2010
The Paul Rudolph Foundation
Modernism at Risk: Modern Solutions for Saving Modern Landmarks, an exhibition organized by World Monuments Fund and sponsored by Knoll, Inc., will travel to design schools and other venues across the U.S. beginning in Gainesville, Florida, and traveling to New York City in 2010. The exhibit consists of large-scale photographs by noted photographer Andrew Moore and interpretative panels with five case studies exploring the role designers play in preserving Modern landmarks.
VIDEO: Modernism at Risk Exhibition: Modern Solutions for Saving Modern Landmarks
Exhibition Opening: Modernism at Risk
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
Exhibition: February 17 - May 1, 2010
Modernism represents the defining movement of twentieth-century architecture and design; yet, every day, important works of modern architecture are destroyed or inappropriately altered. The solutions for protecting them can be as individual as the threats that endanger them. These threats range from physical deterioration to perceived economic or functional obsolescence to public apathy. Often, the greatest challenges to saving modern buildings can be the innovative design and technical features that help define them as significant achievements in the history of architecture.
While there is no single response that can prevent the loss of every endangered modern site, the architects and designers working today play an increasingly critical role in demonstrating that these buildings can be economically and functionally viable and continue to serve useful purposes as places to live, work, learn, gather, and worship. The advocacy role of good design becomes increasingly important as the building materials and systems of many modern structures that stem from the classical period of modernism through the postwar boom reach the end of their physical life span. Saving modern landmarks is important because they enrich a community’s sense of place – providing continuity between its past and important buildings of our own times.
I find it amusing how the last few years have seen such a push to protect Modernist buildings ... when we still aren't protecting 150-year-old buildings. I know the old saw that buildings are at their most vulnerable/unloved when they're 50-70 years old ... but it doesn't seem to be borne out in reality that Modernist structures are at greatest risk in this city.
That's for the simple reason that most postwar buildings are quite big, and it's a pain for a developer to pull them down. As long 100-year-old tenements continue to be the buildings most likely to be reduced to rubble for the likes of the Holiday Inn Wall Street, 2 Gold St. I & II and the miles of other crap antinimby recently posted, I'm wondering why the AIA and other architectural groups don't worry more about them...
(...unless it's because the AIA doesn't really have many members who consider themselves the heirs of Sanford White but is full of Corbu disciples...)
City aims to expand Slope district
By Gary Buiso
The city is inching forward with a plan to expand the Park Slope Historic District, an area its backers say faces real threats if protections are not secured.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will meet with expansion supporters on Feb. 23 to discuss its progress. So far, agency spokesperson Elizabeth de Bourbon said, the commission has done a preliminary survey of buildings that could be included in a first phase of an extension.
Under a plan proposed by the Park Slope Civic Council, the historic district would grow significantly, encompassing thousands of buildings in an area bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Park West, 15th Street, and Fifth Avenue. The current district includes 1,975 buildings.
Because the proposed area is so large, the civic is asking Landmarks to approach the expansion in stages, with the first 1,350 buildings bordered by Flatbush, Prospect Park West, Seventh Avenue, 15th Street, and parts of Union Street and Fifth Avenue. The second phase includes 2000 buildings east of Fifth Avenue, and the third, east of Fourth Avenue between Flatbush and 15th Street. Landmarks said it has yet to delineate boundaries for any of the phases.
“The reason we’re looking at an extension in phases as opposed to all 4,000 buildings we’ve been asked to include in a district is that we’ll be able to move forward with districts elsewhere in the city,” de Bourbon said.
“Otherwise, we’d have to devote almost all of our resources to this neighborhood. We have to weigh this extension against all of our other priorities,” she said.
Since 2003, Landmarks has designated 21 historic districts and three district extensions, the most since the Lindsay Administration. “We know there is a great deal of demand for them and we are trying to balance the needs of all the neighborhoods,” de Bourbon said.
Peter Bray, a trustee of the civic council who has been working on the proposal, said the hope is that Landmarks ultimately embraces the entirety of the civic’s proposal. The civic, which has unanimously backed the expansion argues that without the district, buildings of historic import could face the wrecking ball during the next wave of development.
Securing landmark status for the first phase could take up to three years, according to Bray, and there is an expected five year gap between the other phases. The civic is hoping to engender support for the initiative, which could prove challenging, as renovations in a landmarked property add layers of bureaucratic red tape for homeowners, and can often be more costly.
UWS Prep School's Makeover Approved in Landmarking Bonanza!
February 10, 2010, by Joey
The Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School's plan to do all sorts of funky things with the mid-block space between its historic brownstones on West 93rd and 94th Streets drew plenty of ire at a recent Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, but yesterday the LPC unanimously approved the prep school's drastic rear-yard and cosmetic changes. One edit: The school dropped the height of that astroturf-covered platform from 16 feet to 13 feet, thereby slightly reducing its deadliness. Giving the school the green light wasn't the only big move by the LPC at yesterday's marathon meeting. In fact, 2/9/2010 was, dare we say, a blockbuster day o' fun for preservation geeks.
1) The big news out of Queens is that the LPC voted to hold a public hearing in March about designating an Addisleigh Park Historic District, a 426-building pocket of architectural significance near St. Albans. The area was a stronghold of African-American culture and was once home to Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, W.E.B. DuBois and Jackie Robinson. Who says the LPC doesn't care about Queens?
2) and 3) The LPC calendared Coney Island's Shore Theater (the Surf Avenue theater built in the '20s) and Gramercy House (an Art Deco apartment building at 235-237 East 22nd Street built in 1931) for landmark designation. A Shore Theater designation feels especially timely given all the uncertainty surrounding Coney Island's future.
4) Midtown's Penn Club at 30-32 West 44th Street (formerly the Yale Club) was designated a landmark. The 11-story red-brick mens' club was completed in 1901 and designed by veterans of the McKim, Mead & White firm (though not any of those headliners).
There's even more, yes more stuff that went down on the ninth floor of 1 Centre Street yesterday, including the landmarking of the Lower East Side's 143 Allen Street. Check out the LPC's press release for all the history-protectin' goodness.
Yo Developers, Y'All Can't F*** Wit These [LPC; warning: PDF]
A Castle Near the Sand
The Shore Theater was calendared today, the first step in the landmarks process. (vanz/Flickr)
With snowpocalypse about to descend on the city, summer feels a long way away. But there is cause for sun-soaked celebration today, as the Landmarks Preservation commission calendared the Shore Theater, the first step in the public review process to make the building an official city landmark. The calendaring is actually the first fruits to bear from the Bloomberg administration’s 13th hour deal with developer Joe Sitt. It will be months before amusements return to a saved Coney Island, but a major negotiating point for the community—and the amusement community in particular—was more landmarks in Coney to protect the area’s historic buildings from the flood of development the city’s rezoning hopes to create.
So far, there are no other buildings in the docket besides the 1920s theater-and-hotel building, though, which could be cause for concern—especially after the area’s oldest building recently suffered water damage. Still, after decades of deterioration, any progress is good. In other landmarks news…
Jackie Robinson's House in Addisleigh Park. (Courtesy HDC)
Gramercy House. (Courtesy LPC)
The commission also calendared today the Gramercy House and the Addisleigh Park Historic District. The former is an apartment building on East 22nd Street designed by Edward and Charles Blum in 1929 and completed in 1931. The building, according to the commission report, boasts “textured brickwork, contrasting base and striking polychrome terra cotta trim.”
Meanwhile, the latest proposed historic district (the 101st?) is located in Queens and comprised of 426 buildings, the St. Albans Congregational church and its campus, and 11 acres of St. Albans Park. Many of the buildings date from the 1910s to 1930s, and according to this page on the Historic Districts Council’s website, the area was an enclave in the 1950s for the city’s well-to-do blacks, including Jackie Robinson, W.E.B. DuBois, Count Basie, Joe Louis, and Ella Fitzgerald, among other notables. Here’s a map of the area, and you can see it in GoogleMaps here.
143 Allen and the Penn Club. (Courtesy LPC)
Finally, the commission voted in favor of two new landmarks today. The Penn Club, formerly the Yale Club, is located on 44th Street between 5th and 6th avenues, near a clutch of other robber baron-era clubhouses. The 11-story building was completed in 1901 on commission from Yale, with designs by two Yalies and McKim, Mead, & White alums, Evarts Tracy and Egerton Swartwout. The building was later acquired by Penn. The other new landmarks is the 143 Allen Street House, which was built around 1830 for ship captain George Sutton, a time, as the commission report notes, “when the Lower East Side was a fashionable residential district.” And so the circle is complete. These two buildings also had hearings the same day as Paul Rudolph’s 23 Beekman Place, so it’s quite possible that building could be coming up for a vote in the near future as well.
For Queens Neighborhood, a Step Toward Landmark Status
By FERNANDA SANTOS
Addisleigh Park, an upper-middle-class enclave in St. Albans in southeast Queens, is distinguished by its elegant homes, one-way streets and the large number of notable African-Americans who made their home there.
Jackie Robinson and the civil rights pioneer W.E.B. DuBois lived in Addisleigh Park. Ella Fitzgerald lived on Murdock Avenue. Count Basie lived on Adelaide Road. John Coltrane lived on Mexico Street. Milt Hinton, the dean of jazz bass players, lived on Marne Place.
On Tuesday, the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission voted to hold a public hearing on March 23 on a plan to turn Addisleigh Park into a historic district.
If approved, Addisleigh would be Queens’ ninth historic district and its fourth largest, and it would include 426 detached houses built in brick, stucco, wood and stone, in the Tudor, Colonial and Mediterranean Revival styles. St. Albans Park and the St. Albans Congregational Church and its campus would also be part of the district.
Tuesday’s vote was the first official step on the path to landmark designation, which would protect the character and homes in an enclave that was developed as an exclusively white community, with restrictive covenants that prohibited the sale of any of its properties to blacks.
At one point in the 1940s, homeowners sued their neighbors for breaking the agreement, but a judge noted that by then several blacks already lived there. The jazz pianist Fats Waller was among the first black residents in Addisleigh Park.
“I’m proud to put this extraordinary community on the path to historic designation,” the commission’s chairman, Robert B. Tierney, said in a statement, highlighting the area’s “cultural heritage and architectural treasures.”
The commission also unanimously approved landmark status Tuesday for the Penn Club of New York, a Beaux-Arts building in Midtown that originally housed the Yale Club, and the 143 Allen Street House, a Federal-style row house on the Lower East Side constructed around 1830.
And it held public hearings that would place three buildings in Jamaica, Queens, on the road to landmark status: the former Jamaica Savings Bank at 146-21 Jamaica Avenue, a circa 1939 structure that is now a branch of Capital One Bank; the neo-Classical Queens Supreme Courthouse on Sutphin Boulevard, also from around 1939; and the Gothic Revival-style Grace Episcopal Church Memorial Hall at 155-24 90th Avenue, built around 1893.
The buildings in Queens and Manhattan and the proposed Addisleigh Park historic district were identified through a survey of about 22,000 potentially historic sites citywide carried out from 2006 to 2008.
The ones that are under the FAR are almost always pre-war. Our zoning seems to work against the preservation of pre-war buildings. At least we have development rights transfers.
Landmarking is added to Allen St. building’s story
The city has landmarked 143 Allen St.
By Albert Amateau
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has unanimously approved the landmark designation of a 180-year-old Federal-style row house on the Lower East Side.
The two-and-a-half-story house at 143 Allen St., built as one of a row of six houses in 1830 by George Sutton, a ship captain and merchant, received landmark status at the Feb. 9 meeting of the commission.
“This remarkable, intact house has survived not only the test of time, but also the radical transformation of the Lower East Side into a dense immigrant neighborhood that came to be defined by scores of tenement buildings,” said Robert Tierney, chairperson of the commission. “It’s one of the few buildings remaining from the area’s first major wave of urban development,” Tierney added.
Built when the Lower East Side was a fashionable residential neighborhood, the house, at Rivington St., is in the middle of what was once the 300-acre estate of James Delancey, a French Huguenot immigrant and merchant who served as a colonial judge in the 1730s.
The six row houses were sold in 1837 to Joseph Durbrow, a clerk who later moved to San Francisco, where he became a prosperous banker.
Thomas Haley, a mason and builder, acquired the houses in 1844 and converted them to multiple dwellings. They remained in the Haley family for 80 years as the neighborhood population increased dramatically with German, Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants.
Four of the six original houses were demolished at the turn of the 20th century. The Haley family sold the remaining two at 141 and 143 Allen St. in 1920 to Louis Wahrsager, a mattress manufacturer and retailer. In 1980, the Wahrsagers sold the buildings to a group of artists, and No. 141 Allen was subsequently demolished.
The commission also unanimously approved the landmark designation of the Penn Club of New York, formerly the Yale Club, at 30-32 W. 44th St., completed in 1901 as an 11-story building with three more stories added in 1990.
March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect
Coney Island Theatre Building. Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr
In advance of a public hearing set for March 23rd, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has released a detailed description of the long vacant Shore Theater that positively sings landmark designation and Broadway at the Beach! ATZ is reprinting it in its entirety below for your reading pleasure. We hope it will inspire you to voice your support at the hearing or via letters and emails to LPC.
If you have additional info about the history of the Shore Theater or photos of the interior, now is the time to come forward. The exterior is currently up for landmarking, but the LPC may consider the interior at a later date. People who have been inside the Shore have said that architectural features of the ornate interior remain and can be restored.
We think that the Shore Theater, as well as the Coney Island USA Building (the former Childs Restaurant), which is also on the agenda for March 23, will be landmarked. The two buildings are considered the most likely to win landmark designation of the six historic structures in the amusement area nominated by Coney Island USA. In 2007, the City funded Coney Island USA’s $3.6 million purchase of the former restaurant and landmark status will make the 1917 building eligible for grants to continue CIUSA’s ongoing renovation. The Shore’s history as a year-round entertainment venue fits in with the Bloomberg administration’s long-term plan to revitalize Coney Island as a year-round destination.
But Horace Bullard, the Shore’s owner, is likely to voice objections. Last month Bullard told the Bay News that landmarking would “handicap” the transformation of the amusement district: “If all of old Coney Island was there and it was all landmarked, it virtually would no longer be an amusement district – it would be a historic district.”
Sources tell ATZ that the City has been trying to buy Bullard’s Coney Island properties or negotiate a land swap. We have also heard rumors of a “blight” taking of the Shore Theater based on the fact that the property owner has done nothing with the building for 25 years. In fact, the Shore has been vacant for over 35 years! Bullard’s acrimonious relationship with the City dates back to the Giuliani administration, when the Mayor killed his plans to build a new Steeplechase Park and illegally demolished the Thunderbolt roller coaster.
Across the Street from the Shore Theater: Nathan's, the Parachute Jump. Photo © Betty Blade via flickr
The day before the LPC’s calendaring of the Shore Theater in February, Bullard was served with a violation from the Department of Buildings. The caps are the DOB’s: “FAILURE TO FILE AN ACCEPTABLE SIXTH ROUND TECHNICAL FACADE REPORT.” Cycle 6 ended February 20, 2010. Chunks of the facade are falling off.
If the building is landmarked Demolition by Neglect laws could come into play. The New York City demolition by neglect ordinance states, “every [owner] of a landmark site or historic district shall keep in good repair (1) all of the exterior portions of such improvement and (2) all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to deteriorate, decay or become damaged or otherwise to fell into a state of disrepair.” NEW YORK, N.Y., CODE § 25-311 (2001).
Last year, in a precedent setting lawsuit, the City was awarded $1.1 million in civil penalties and gave the owners of the landmarked Windermere apartments a choice of fixing the property or selling it. “This settlement sends a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a New York City Law Department press release about the case. “Buildings like the Windermere are an indispensable part of New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”
As ATZ reported last month (“Feb 9: First Step in Landmark Designation of Coney Island’s Shore Theater”), much has been written about the Shore Theater in recent months. Vanishing New York’s photo essay on the theater’s history and probable future and “The Shore Theater: A Sure Part of Coney Island’s Future?” by the Municipal Art Society’s Melissa Baldock are required reading. The Municipal Art Society, Coney Island USA and Save Coney Island are among the organizations that support the landmark designation.
Coney Island's Shore Theater. Photo via masnyc's flickr
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Report on the Shore Theater…CONEY ISLAND THEATRE (LATER SHORE THEATER) BUILDINGhttp://amusingthezillion.com/2010/03...rs-of-neglect/
1301 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn (aka 2932-2952 Stillwell Avenue)
Architect: [Paul C.] Reilly & [Douglas Pairman] Hall, with Samuel L. Malkind
Builder: Chanin Construction Company
Style: neo-Renaissance Revival
Significant Alterations: Marquee removed, storefront infill, replacement windows
Previous Actions: None
The Coney Island Theatre Building was constructed in 1924-25 to the designs of experienced theater architects Reilly & Hall, with associate architect Samuel L. Malkind, all of whom were protégés of the famous theater architect Thomas W. Lamb. The builder was the Chanin Construction Company, specialists in theater construction. Opened on June 27, 1925 with screenings of the silent film “The Sporting Venus” and live performances by the famous Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, the seven-story neo-Renaissance Revival style structure housed a 2,500-seat auditorium theater for vaudeville and motion pictures as well as six stories of office space. Shortly after its opening, the theater came under the operation of Marcus Loew, founder of one of the nation’s premier movie theater chains. According to one source, Al Jolson performed at Loew’s Coney Island Theatre on August 11, 1949.
The Coney Island Theatre was an important part of a redevelopment initiative launched in the early 1920s by the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce (organized in 1923) that aimed to transform the existing core of outdoor amusements into a more respectable year-round entertainment district. The 1920 construction of the Stillwell Avenue subway station and construction of the boardwalk, which made the beachfront publicly accessible for the first time, had paved the way for a revamped Coney Island. The Theatre Building was one of the few buildings on Coney Island to be constructed of more permanent, fireproof materials like brick, stone and terra cotta; when completed, it stood out in contrast to the traditionally low-rise wood and plaster buildings of the amusement district. In addition to a year-round theater, the Chamber of Commerce promoted other amusement ventures such as Child’s Restaurant, the Cyclone Roller Coaster, and the Wonder Wheel (all designated New York City landmarks), as well as RKO’s Tilyou Theater and the Half Moon Hotel (both demolished). Today the Coney Island Theatre Building remains among the tallest structures on the Coney Island skyline.
The theater-and-office building was erected by the Chanin Construction Company, founded in 1919 by Irwin S. Chanin, an engineer and architect, and his brother Henry Chanin, an accountant. The Chanin Construction Company soon became one of the city’s preeminent design-build firms, and in 1924 branched out into theater construction. Between 1924 and 1927, the Chanins built six Broadway theaters: the Forty-sixth Street, Biltmore, Mansfied, Majestic, and Royale theaters, and the Theater Masque, all of which are designated New York City Landmarks (the Biltmore Theater is a designated interior landmark). The 6,200-seat Roxy Theater (demolished) was also the work of the Chanin brothers. In addition to theaters, the Chanins erected a number of significant residential and commercial buildings throughout the city in the the 1920s and 1930s, including the Century and the Majestic apartments on Central Park West (1931 and 1930-31, respectively), and the Chanin Building (Irwin S. Chanin with Sloan & Robertson, 1927-29), all designated New York City landmarks.
Designed by Paul C. Reilly and Douglas Pairman Hall, the building is a modest interpretation of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Constructed using the latest in fireproofing technology and clad in limestone, buff brick and cream-colored terra cotta with green accents, the building has a rusticated base with arcaded Florentine arches, a terra-cotta clerestory, and a roof pavilion with arched windows and a balcony. Decorative panels and balustrades enliven the building’s facade. The plain brick box of the auditorium space, which is roughly five stories in height and has a covered fire escape/exit on the exterior, extends to the rear of the seven-story building. Both Reilly and Hall were employed by the firm of Thomas W. Lamb prior to forming their own partnership in 1920, Reilly as Lamb’s chief designer. Their associate on the project, Samuel L. Malkind, also worked for Lamb in the late 1910s. The architects’ design for the Coney Island Theatre Building was illustrated in R.W. Sexton’s book American Theatres of Today, published in 1927.
Vintage view: The Stage at the Shore Theater. stevesobczuk via flickr
The Coney Island Theatre Building is unusual for its combination of a theater with a full-size office building, a typology more often seen in Manhattan’s theater district than in the outer boroughs. Another interesting feature of the building’s design is the single entrance for theater patrons; reportedly owing to his childhood memories of entering movie theaters through secondary entrances for low-price ticket holders, Irwin Chanin of Chanin Construction did away with the secondary entrance in all of his theater buildings, exclaiming “Whether you’ve got a nickel or a five-dollar bill, go right inside… You’re part of the audience”. (Irwin S. Chanin obituary, New York Times, Feb. 26 1988)
In 1964 the theater came under the operation of Harry Brandt, who renamed it the Shore Theater. Just two years later the theater stopped showing films and began staging musical revues. From 1966 until 1971 the theater was operated by Leroy C. Griffith, a national burlesque entrepreneur; Griffith’s opening show at the Shore Theater was called “Stars ‘n Strips Forever”. After a brief stint showing adult films, the theater was converted into a bingo hall.
Still remarkably intact, the Coney Island Theatre Building is an impressive reminder of Coney Island’s heyday as America’s playground.
LPC Gives Thumbs-Up to Berkeley Carroll Expansion
Despite the protestations of some of its Park Slope neighbors, Berkeley Carroll gained support from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the redesign of an existing one-story school structure at 181 Lincoln Place. The biggest objection of neighbors has been over the potential noise problems associated with the planned rooftop playground. The LPC isn't concerned with such issues, though, focusing instead on the impact of the design on the aesthetic landscape. “[The design] does not involve the removal of historic fabric, and the addition is not visible from a public thoroughfare,” an LPC spokesperson told The Courier. John Muir, the most vocal opponent of the project, professed to be undettered: “The community is not, and will not be satisfiedby the Landmark Commission decision and will not stand by and allow the Berkeley Carroll School to build a project so antagonistic to the neighbors.” In addition to the rooftop recreation space, the new structure would be about four feet taller and almost 10,000 square feet larger than the existing 3,000-square-foot building. Construction could begin as soon as this summer. (Click on the elevation above, which was designed by Butler Rogers Baskett, to expand.)
City OKs Berkeley Carroll Plan [Courier]
CB6 Land Use Approves Berkeley Carroll Expansion Plans [Brownstoner]
Berkeley Carroll Expansion Stirs Up The Neighborhood [Brownstoner]