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Thread: New York University Expansion

  1. #46
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    They need the tower on Houston, to build up the street wall.

  2. #47

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    With regards to the landmark designation of Silver Towers: In all honesty, I think they are some of the fugliest buildings in the city, what is so landmark worthy about them? If it was upto me I would tear the entire complex down, maybe redo the street grid and build something more spread out and visually appealing than silver towers.

  3. #48
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That option would at least have some integrity behind it.

    Individual tastes aside, the fact is that LPC saw fit to designate Silver Towers. Seems most of those now on the Commission were there when the ST site was Landmarked, so how could they reconcile their prior decision with anything but a disapproval of any effort to build on the plot?

  4. #49
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    They need the tower on Houston, to build up the street wall.
    Which tower is that? You mean the plan for ~ 17 stories on the NW corner of Mercer where the Coles Gym building now squats?

  5. #50
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    The southeast corner of that plot, where the buff brick cube is now, across from the Angelica.

  6. #51
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Yep, same site.

    The Great Wall of NYU facing onto Soho and Noho.

  7. #52
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Houston needs a cohesive street wall, like they did with Van Ness.

  8. #53
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    What they're proposing is a stepped building for that site, and while it's way early for any concrete plans (supposedly that site won't be built on until perhaps 2021 or later due to restrictions in the deed) this is what they've recently shown (rising to 17 stories at the northern end along Bleecker):


  9. #54
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Back to the Silver Towers site, given the statements by Chairman Tierney at the time of designation I really don't see how the LPC could possibly allow a new tower (or really any building of any size) to be erected within the boundaries and at the same time retain any sense of the Commission's integrity ...

    University Village

    Originally known as University Village, this residential “superblock” complex, set on five acres north of Houston Street between Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place, was designed by architect James Ingo Freed of I.M. Pei & Associates for New York University and completed in 1967. The complex, comprised of three identical 30-story, reinforced concrete, buff-colored towers built in the Brutalist style, is centered around the “Bust of Sylvette,” a 36-foot-tall concrete sculpture of an enlarged cubistic piece by Pablo Picasso.

    “It’s widely known as one of the finest modern residential complexes in the City,” said Chairman Tierney. “The configuration, style and park-like setting of the towers create an undeniable tension between the buildings themselves and the space they occupy.”

    The three freestanding, gridded towers cover a only a small percentage of the site, and reflect the influence of the Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier. Each floor has four or eight deeply recessed horizontal window bays and a sheer 22-foot-wide sheer wall, creating strong contrasts of light and shadow. The enormous sculpture, added in 1968, was executed by Picasso’s frequent collaborator, Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesjar. Picasso selected - in consultation with Nesjar - which of the five busts of model Sylvette David would be reproduced at the site.

    The two buildings on the east side of the site are owned by NYU and serve as faculty housing, while the western tower is a cooperative apartment house on NYU-owned land. The NYU buildings were renamed Silver Towers in 1974 to honor a major donor to the school, Julius Silver, a lawyer.

  10. #55

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    I don't know why that site was ever landmarked it the first place. It's not historic, and really does it have any real architectural signficance (and opposed to contrived architectural significance)?

    As far as I'm concerned, the could tear them down, break up the superblock return the street grid, and do high density development within the grid, going all the way over to Mercer.

  11. #56
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    But LPC did landmark it, so what you describe will never happen (if LPC regulations are followed).

    Besides it is a fairly pristine example of Modernist / Brutalist architecture & land use. Not many of that type from that era, combining structures and open space, in NYC.

    And NYU can't do high density here without re-zoning beyond the current middle density residential R7-2 allowance (MAP [pdf]).

    From CPC: Residential Districts: R7-1 & R7-2

  12. #57

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    ^
    Yes, I know all that. I think it just shows the folly of the entire landmarking concept. As far as the zoning, that can be changed (and likely will be to accomodate the expansion).

    Also, NYU probably wants to keep those buildings, so they wouldn't tear them down anyway. But really the entire area bounded by Laguarda to Mercer and Houston to W3rd is a momentus mistake, and needs to be redone. But you're correct that it would never happen.
    Last edited by BBMW; June 24th, 2010 at 04:36 PM. Reason: typos galore

  13. #58
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    If NYU gets their way then it will happen by 2031.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
    ^
    I think it just shows the folly of the entire landmarking concept.
    So you don't believe in buildings being protected as landmarks?

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post

    Also, NYU probably wants to keep those buildings, so they wouldn't tear them down anyway.
    Your point raises a very interesting question. NYU fully backed LPC in 2008 when the Silver Towers plot (covering about 2/3 of the southern superblock bounded by Bleecker <> Mercer <> West Houston <> LaGuardia) was designated an official NYC Landmark.

    Pei hey, N.Y.U. now backs Silver Towers landmarking

    The Villager
    February 2008

    Less than two weeks after New York University made a major presentation of concept plans for developing new space on its two South Village superblocks, the iconic Silver Towers, located on the southern superblock, have been calendared for a landmark designation hearing.

    ... When G.V.S.H.P. first proposed landmarking Silver Towers three years ago, N.Y.U. strongly opposed the idea of designating the towers — located between Bleecker and Houston Sts. east of LaGuardia Pl. — as well as the rest of the superblock.

    ... But the university has since had a change of heart under President John Sexton and now backs landmarking Silver Towers. Two weeks ago, Sexton signed an agreement ** with Borough President Scott Stringer, pledging to follow a new set of more community-friendly development principles. N.Y.U.’s turnaround on the Silver Towers issue is part of this “new N.Y.U.,” the university says. Plus, the supermarket is no longer part of the proposed landmark site that L.P.C.’s commissioners will consider next month.

    In a statement released Monday, Sexton said, “The planning principles on which we collaborated with local elected officials and community groups are the standards to which we expect to be held. We believe this step [supporting the Silver Towers designation] is an important one that demonstrates our respect for the ‘ecosystem’ in which our university exists. Both we and our partners took a major step in developing a relationship of trust last week; we think the action we are announcing today makes real our intention to continue building that trust.”

    ... N.Y.U. spokesperson Beckman downplayed the impact landmarking might have on the university’s future development plans on the superblock.

    “The planning team was always aware of the special nature of the Silver Towers complex regardless of the landmarking designation, and the planning was done accordingly,” Beckman said. “If the Silver Towers site is landmarked, it would mean that there will be another step in the process for some of the plans, as they would have to go through a public review process with the L.P.C. Such a review is entirely consistent with the planning principles we agreed to the week before last.”

    ** Makes one wonder if there was an unspoken / backroom deal between various players wherein the game was "Designate it now, allow a variance later".

    Now NYU seems incredibly sure of themselves, proceeding as if their LPC application for the new tower will lead to a situation where NYU is allowed to build upon the protected plot (although their public statements are full of qualifying things like "We don't know how LPC will rule").

    *

    From the LPC Designation Report [pdf]; November 18, 2008:

    UNIVERSITY VILLAGE, 100 and 110 Bleecker Street (aka Silver Towers I & II, 98-122 Bleecker Street and 40-58 West Houston Street) and 505 LaGuardia Place (aka 487-507 LaGuardia Place and 64-86 West Houston Street). Built 1964-67; I. M. Pei & Associates, architect; James Ingo Freed, chief designer.

    Summary

    University Village is one of the finest examples of a mid-20th century residential complex located in New York City. Designed by architect James Ingo Freed of I. M. Pei & Associates for New York University, construction began in 1964 and was completed by 1967 ... The buildings were thoughtfully arranged by Freed to maximize views and privacy, as well as to increase general visual interest. Cast in place, on site, using fiberglass molds, these buff-colored towers fall into the general stylistic category known as “Brutalism” and reflect the influence of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, whom Pei admired ... University Village was a critical success and received awards from the American Institute of Architects, the City Club of New York, and the Concrete Industry Board. It was also selected as one of “Ten Buildings That Climax an Era” by Fortune Magazine in 1966. Both Pei and Freed have received significant recognition for their contributions to this project; when Pei was honored with the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983 University Village was cited as one of his most notable works and at the time of Freed’s death in 2005 Museum of Modern Art architecture curator Terence Riley counted the complex as among “the most refined examples of modern architecture in Manhattan.”

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