Alterations to Rowhouse Approved After Additions Reduced

890 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Image Credit: Murdock Solon Architects

890 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Image Credit: Murdock Solon Architects

Additions to surviving Queen Anne-style Park Avenue rowhouse scaled down after commissioners rejected previous proposal. On April 12, 2016, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to issue a certificate of appropriateness to revised proposal to alter and build additions to an 1885 rowhouse at 890 Park Avenue in the Upper East Side Historic District. The rowhouse is one of only three surviving low-rise buildings on Park Avenue. The current owners intend to revert the building back to its original use as one-family dwelling.

At a hearing on February 6, 2016 architect Shea Murdock, of the firm Murdock Solon, presented a plan for the creation of a new two-story addition, composed mostly of glass. Murdock said the work would allow more light to reach the building’s interior, which received little natural light as it was surrounded by lower buildings. A new terrace would be built on the roof behind the addition. The front façade would be restored, while a new rear contemporary rear façade would be constructed, also largely made of glass to allow in more natural light. The roof additions would be highly visible over the front facade from public thoroughfares.

Preservationist organizations and Manhattan Community Board 2 opposed the plan.

Commissioners rejected the February proposal, finding the additions excessively visible, detracting from the perception of the historic building and its design. Commissioner John Gustafsson said he could not vote to approve any visible addition to the rare surviving Avenue rowhouse.  Commissioners also criticized the planned creation of a new glazed entrance door.

A representative of Murdock Solon presented the revised plan, which pushed back the planned addition 15 feet back from the initial proposal, and 24 feet away from the property line. The additions were also reduced in height and stepped to decrease their visual impact. The planned terrace would now be in front of the roof additions. The building would still possess strip of glazing directly above the historic roof allowing legally required light into a bedroom. The new work would still be visible from street vantages on Park Avenue. The proposed glass entrance door was replaced with a wooden one.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan determined that the revised proposal had reached the benchmark for appropriateness. Commissioner Michael Goldblum also found the revised proposal “way, way better,” but recommended pushing the planned new bedroom clerestory window back and away from the original fabric.

Chari Srinivasan asked the applicants to work with Landmarks staff on incorporating Commissioner Goldblum’s suggestion.

LPC: 890 Park Avenue, Manhattan (17-3027) (April 12, 2016) (Architects: Murdock Solon Architects).

By:  Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law)

One thought on “Alterations to Rowhouse Approved After Additions Reduced

  1. Thanks to the landmarks commission for preserving this gem …one of the few remaining architectural beauties in NYC!
    So many have already been torn down, only to be replaced with big , ugly glass structures with zero character.
    this building is lovely as is.!

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