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Thread: Midtown / Midtown East Rezoning Plan

  1. #31

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    I'm sure it isn't the final design, but does Midtown really need more towers with empty cages at the top? It's like someone saw Bank of America and decided to build a XL version. It isn't terrible, but my first reaction is "meh."

  2. #32
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    ^ Cheap way to go taller. Chrysler and Empire State Building did the same thing in a different way.

  3. #33
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Cages in the sky hide mechanicals. Better than plopping all those metal boxes up top in full view.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Cages in the sky hide mechanicals. Better than plopping all those metal boxes up top in full view.
    And so does a simple extension of the curtain wall.

  5. #35

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    Why is that preferable?

  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Why is that preferable?
    I never said it was. Just as I never said they should "plop all those metal boxes up top in full view."

    All I hope is that the final design isn't a wasted opportunity, because mashing together a Hudson Yards tower and Bank of America and then calling it a day would really be a pity. 5 years to go, I'm sure it will change. Hopefully they come up with something iconic for the next decade.

  7. #37
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Midtown Zoning Plan May Imperil Historic Buildings

    By DAVID W. DUNLAP


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Pershing Square Building.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Lexington New York City, formerly the Radisson Lexington, 511 Lexington Avenue


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Lexington


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Yale Club


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The InterContinental New York Barclay, 111 East 48th Street


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Postum Building, 250 Park Avenue, in the foreground; 383 Madison Avenue rises behind it


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Postum Building


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Postum Building


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The New York Marriott East Side, originally the Shelton, 525 Lexington Avenue


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The New York Marriott East Side


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The New York Marriott East Side. "S" is for Shelton, its original name

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s push to increase development in east Midtown would threaten some of the very buildings that give the neighborhood its character, preservation groups and community boards warn.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    InterContinental New York Barclay, 111 East 48th Street.

    The buildings include the Barclay Hotel, the Yale Club, Brooks Brothers flagship store and the Graybar Building, which many New Yorkers may think — incorrectly — are protected as landmarks already.

    The proposal is intended to provide a legacy of the Bloomberg administration by ensuring that the area around Grand Central Terminal stays on a competitive footing with business centers worldwide. It would increase the maximum allowable building density by 60 percent for some large sites near the terminal. Potential density would be increased 44 percent along an 11-block stretch of Park Avenue. Lesser increases would take effect elsewhere in the area between East 39th and East 57th Streets and between Fifth and Second Avenues, although most of the easternmost residential blocks would not be affected.

    Such increases in density — meaning higher potential profits for landlords down the road — would give builders an incentive to spend the time and money needed to assemble large development parcels and then empty and demolish the buildings on them. The New York City Planning Department has identified projected and potential development sites in the area (on page 26 of this PDF).

    In turn, the Municipal Art Society and the New York Landmarks Conservancy pinpointed more than a dozen buildings over which the shadow of demolition would most likely fall.

    “What one would not want to have happen is for the district to become solely a place about Class A office space,” said Vin Cipolla, president of the Municipal Art Society. “Great neighborhoods are not monocultures.”

    It is too early to break out the violin, hard hat and safety goggles. The rezoning proposal is not yet under formal review and will not take effect immediately even if it is adopted next year. By then, a number of buildings identified as vulnerable by preservationists may well have been designated official landmarks.

    Among these are the Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue; the InterContinental New York Barclay (originally the Barclay Hotel), 111 East 48th Street; the New York Marriott East Side (originally the Shelton), 525 Lexington Avenue; the Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue; the Postum Building, 250 Park Avenue; and the Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue.


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue.

    These buildings were constructed in the 1910s and 1920s, after the opening of Grand Central Terminal transformed the character of Midtown. Collectively, they speak of the district’s history as a neighborhood of large corporations and small businesses, of hotels, men’s clubs and men’s clothing stores.

    The private, 119-year-old Municipal Art Society, which has not figured as prominently in local landmark battles in recent years as it once did, now seems to have returned to the civic fray with a list of 17 buildings it contends warrant consideration for landmark status, including all six noted above.

    “We are trying to make the city understand how important it is that the past is incorporated into this vision of a soaring future — and not just remnant pieces of the past,” said Ronda Wist, the vice president of the society for preservation and government relations. “Vibrancy, diversity and character are what we’re aiming to see preserved.”

    In its East Midtown Study, the City Planning Department identified aging office buildings with low ceilings as inhibiting the district in its potential for attracting and keeping jobs.

    An official of the conservancy, Alex Herrera, whose 16-building preservation list includes many that are also on the Municipal Art Society’s list, said, “The conservancy believes that these structures are not obsolete, low-ceilinged disposable construction, but rather represent some of the best architecture in the area, designed by distinguished architects.”


    David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
    The Lexington New York City (red roof), New York Marriott East Side (green roof) and Citigroup Center.

    Preservationists are not the only ones concerned by the implications of the mayor’s rezoning proposal. In a collective statement of principles, Community Boards 4, 5 and 6 raised the question of what would happen to the pre-eminence of other landmarks if high-density skyscrapers were to start sprouting around Grand Central Terminal. “Does this proposal consider the effect on our skyline?” the boards asked. “Does the Chrysler or Empire State Building deserve any special protections?”

    Both the Planning Department and the landmarks agency said they were conscious of the historical value of buildings in east Midtown. The landmarks commission is studying the eligibility of many of these structures for designation.

    “The city recognizes that a significant part of east Midtown’s success and cachet comes from the remarkable collection of historic and iconic buildings that are found here,” said Rachaele Raynoff, a spokeswoman for Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning and chairwoman of the City Planning Commission. “Part of east Midtown’s attraction is its mix of old and new. Our goal is to complement this existing character with a handful of new modern office buildings over the course of 20 years that may eventually become ‘landmarks’ in their own right.”

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20.../?ref=nyregion

  8. #38

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    There is plenty of old crap that can and needs to be torn down in the city and replaced with new structures. Let's hope they have enough sense to leave these beautiful structures alone.

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigchet View Post
    There is plenty of old crap that can and needs to be torn down in the city and replaced with new structures. Let's hope they have enough sense to leave these beautiful structures alone.
    Overall I feel the same way. Tear down some stubby, ugly, 60s office building instead of any of these buildings. Oh people will whine about "turning NYC into a museum," but why not tear down something that has no architectural merit instead of these classics?

  10. #40

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    Before they approve the upzoning, ideally they would issue blanket historical protection/special status for all pre-WWII buildings in the rezoning area. Realistically, they should either have the Landmarks Preservation Commission conduct a thorough examination of potentially valuable buildings in the area and designate at least a dozen or so new landmarks, or at least decrease zoning incentives for replacing buildings older than a certain age.

  11. #41

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    @HC

    The problem with that is it ignores the people who would actually tear down the buildings, and what they want.

    The majority of 60s office buildings are modern space by today's standards, or can easily be upgraded. Hence, they are profitable. The developers want to tear down these classics because they can get maximum return by turning the sites into modern office buildings. They don't care about what the buildings look like. That's just the way it is.

    The only way these buildings get saved is by landmarking. If not, they will eventually come down.

  12. #42
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Fingers crossed.


    MAS Submits 17 Buildings to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for Evaluation

    The New York City Department of City Planning’s proposed East Midtown re-zoning has the potential to dramatically change the area and threaten the mix of old and new buildings that define the neighborhood as uniquely New York. In response to the City’s proposal, MAS is developing a holistic vision for the future of East Midtown that supports a vibrant mix of businesses, people, and of course, the buildings themselves – over a century’s worth of architecture. Historic preservation is a key component of this ongoing work.

    Today, of the 587 building located in the City’s study area, 32 are designated as individual landmarks. In October, as part of our comments on the draft scope for the environmental review, MAS identified 29 sites of historic and architectural merit not currently protected by New York City landmark status. These buildings represent the development periods that define East Midtown, from pre-Grand Central to Terminal City to the post-war Modern Movement. They also represent a mix of materials, styles and uses that contribute to East Midtown’s visual diversity and sense of place.

    East Midtown is certainly known for iconic landmarks such as the Chrysler Building, Lever House, and Grand Central Terminal (which celebrates 100 years in 2013, thanks in part to the work of MAS.) As reported in today’s New York Times, from the initial list of historic resources identified, MAS further refined the selection to 17 buildings that best convey historic, architectural and cultural significance, as determined by site visits, research, and collaboration with experts on the MAS Preservation Committee. These 17 buildings have been submitted for evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission:


    • 4 E. 43rd Street (former Mehlin Piano Company Building; Andrew J. Thomas, 1916)
    • 18-20 E. 50th Street (former Grand Rapids Furniture Company; Rouse & Goldstone, 1915)
    • 270 Park Avenue (former Union Carbide Building; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1960)
    • 445 Park Avenue (Kahn & Jacobs, 1947)
    • 450 Park Avenue (former Franklin National Bank Building; Emery Roth & Sons, 1972)
    • 661 Lexington Avenue (former Babies’ Hospital; York & Sawyer, 1902)
    • Center for Fiction (former Mercantile Library; Henry Otis Chapman, 1932)
    • Graybar Building (Sloan & Robertson, 1927)
    • Hotel Intercontinental Barclay (Cross & Cross, 1926)
    • The Lexington (former Hotel Lexington; Schultze & Weaver, 1929)
    • Marriott East Side (former Shelton Hotel; Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1923)
    • One Grand Central Place (former Lincoln Building; J. E. R. Carpenter; Dwight P. Robinson, 1929)
    • Pershing Square Building (John Sloan of York & Sawyer, 1923)
    • Postum Building (Cross & Cross, 1924)
    • Swedish Seamen’s Church (former New York Bible Society; Wilfred Edward Anthony, 1920)
    • Vanderbilt Concourse Building (Warren & Wetmore, 1916)
    • Yale Club (James Gamble Rogers, 1915)


    http://mas.org/mas-submits-17-buildi...or-evaluation/

  13. #43
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    Davidson: The Subtle Greatness of Grand Central May Get Trampled by Midtown Rezoning

    By Justin Davidson



    An alternative: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's adventurous plan for public space floating above Grand Central Terminal.

    A few decades from now, when we can spot only the tip of the Chrysler Building’s spire over the top of its neighboring glass behemoths, we’ll think back to the final year of the Bloomberg era, when the cap on Manhattan’s silhouette blew off. After rezoning more than a third of New York, the City Planning Department has floated a sweeping proposal that combines swollen ambitions for the skyline with puny civic aspirations. The rezoning would let developers replace stubby vintage office buildings in east midtown with much huger towers. The biggest ones would huddle around Grand Central Terminal, and developers could apply for special permits to supersize architectural extravaganzas. Three full-block sites on the station’s western flank, including Terminal City’s remaining grande dame, the Roosevelt Hotel, could give way to thick-waisted, tapering skyscrapers potentially over 1,000 feet tall. Eventually, a row of somewhat less enormous skyscrapers could march up Park Avenue as far as 57th Street.

    This is not all bad. A dynamic city doesn’t preserve its skyline in amber, and if there’s one place that the free market should thrive, it’s in the nerve center of global capitalism. New York is edgily glancing sidelong at London and Tokyo and worrying that, while those cities have been upgrading their central business districts with glossy new skyscrapers, east midtown is left looking dowdy. The area’s office buildings are aging or already old, and no renovation can thin out forests of columns to convert those interiors into the airy spaces that marquee corporations crave.

    But what happens in the sky is felt in the street and underground. Even without the rezoning, the Long Island Rail Road’s coming East Side Access will soon start disgorging fresh torrents of commuters. Taller buildings would add yet more crowds to a neighborhood where sidewalk food vendors shunt people into the street and scoring an outdoor spot to eat a sandwich is a competitive sport. The plan makes a wan attempt to alleviate the desert of public space. Developers would pay into a public-improvement fund that the city would dole out for subway escalators and wider sidewalks. The most ambitious public-space idea is to turn dark and dreary Vanderbilt Avenue into a still dark but maybe somewhat less dreary pedestrian mall, interrupted by crosstown traffic heading for Grand Central.

    With its time in office waning, Bloomberg’s planners have fast-tracked the east midtown rezoning, hoping to get it passed before the next administration can shelve it. But there is too much at stake to rush a lopsided scheme that grants developers specific enticements and waves away everyone else with the promise of a well-run slush fund.

    To understand just how timid the city’s plan is—and how much more democratically ambitious it could be—it helps to grasp the brilliance of the building at the district’s heart. Grand Central Terminal opened a century ago as a triumphant fusion of profit and public-spiritedness. It was the emblem of a mighty railroad company and the endpoint of a transportation system that webbed the entire continent. It incubated a colossal real-estate project, creating the concept of air rights, which has been a staple of New York development ever since. But Grand Central was also one of the modern world’s most exquisitely complex and welcoming public palaces. At a time when most New Yorkers lived in airless squalor, here was a place where anyone, no matter how foreign or poor, could tread like an emperor in a vast, vaulted hall. What new structure these days offers such inclusive grandeur?

    The building’s history begins with a horrific accident. In the morning rush hour of January 8, 1902, two trains collided just outside the old depot on the site, filling the tunnel with boiling spray and coal smoke. Fifteen people were killed. The New York Central Railroad decided to switch to electric trains, which didn’t pump fumes into the air and so could run beneath the streets and enter the station from below. The company buried the open tracks, creating Park Avenue and raising a grove of new towers.

    In the rationalistic spirit of the age, the building was engineered down to the minutest detail, merging efficiency with beauty. The hallelujah shafts of sunlight that angle through vast double windows and glass-floored walkways heat the interior and minimize the need for electric lighting. Early visitors rhapsodized over the ramps from street to tunnel. “The idea,” reported the Times, “was borrowed from the sloping roads that led the way for the chariots into the old Roman camps of Julius Caesar’s army.” To determine their precise angle, the architects made mock-ups and then recruited testers: “fat men and thin men, women with long skirts, women with their arms full of bundles.” The result is a complex of gentle slopes through which people move in a counterpoint of varying tempos.

    We should not take that sort of obsessive creativity for granted. Grand Central’s designers created a multitiered world of subterranean tracks, surface roads, and lofty buildings, with people moving smoothly among all three. Private and public interests interlocked, with each sector leveraging the other and multiplying the advantages to both. That mutual dependency is the New York way, and when it’s worked smoothly it has made the city great. But under the new proposal, at least in its current form, government would merely boost private wealth and get few public benefits in return.

    There are alternatives. The Municipal Art Society recently asked a trio of architecture firms to dream up various versions of Grand Central’s second century. Of the three, the usually buttoned-up firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill responded with the most Jetsonian panache, suggesting an immense levitating doughnut full of indoor public space, linking the MetLife Building with two new super-tall towers.

    With more practicality and restraint, Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate, joined by SHoP Architects and guided by the planner Vishaan Chakrabarti, has produced a separate proposal inspired by the area’s early history. When Park Avenue was laid out, it was not the eight-lane speedway we see today, with north- and southbound traffic separated by a skinny landscaped median. Until the fifties, it was a landscaped esplanade flanked by a single traffic lane on each side. The Columbia group has updated that vanished allée with a more balanced ribbon of green space stretching from Grand Central almost all the way to Central Park. It could function as an outdoor art gallery, lunch spot, urban trail, and leisurely passeggiata. Widening the median might conceivably even alleviate traffic with a system of left-turn lanes. Whether or not that’s the perfect solution, it’s great to see the kind of public-minded boldness that gave birth to the area 100 years ago.

    In some ways, Grand Central’s era has passed. The railroad network that feeds it has withered to a handful of commuter lines. The MetLife Building looming above makes the terminal look puny, and the hectic blocks around it make the approach less than majestic. Yet the station, finished in 1913, nearly demolished in the seventies, and restored in the nineties, endures as one of New York’s busiest nodes and the hub of one of the world’s great business districts. The surest way to demote it to an elegant relic is to encircle it with towers and forget about the space in between. You shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief every time an elevator whisks you away from the street.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/12...id=nymag_press

  14. #44
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    The recent appalling spectacle of the Michigan legislature teaches, if anything, this much: beware Republicans in a hurry. Bloomberg's determination to ram through this zoning change for Midtown in the last year of his administration is just another of his many betrayals of the public interest when it comes to the cityscape of New York.

    If developers actually dumped onto Midtown SOM's horrifying renderings of what these zoning changes permit, it would make one hope for an early death because the city we all love had become a hideous pile of cacophonous junk.
    Last edited by ttk; December 14th, 2012 at 12:11 PM.

  15. #45

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    Don't worry, Comrade TTK. There aren't any Republicans in NYC. Nurse Bloomberg is a Nanny-State Democrat with some instincts for economic incentives and fiscal sanity (unlike any full-bore Democrats), making him marginally better than the other crazies running the city. It's Democrats and developers (who vote and donate to the Democrats) who are behind the changes you deplore in NY - Republicans aren't running anything here. Sorry.

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