Art Wall to Return to Broadway/Houston Building

Under the proposal, the SoHo sculpture would be raised, allowing ad panels below. Image courtesy of Van Wagner.

Compromise calls for SoHo art to coexist with advertising.

On April 24, 2007, Landmarks approved a plan that will allow The Wall, a sculpture by Forrest Myers, to be re-affixed to the Houston Street exterior of the building at 599 Broadway. The location will be 18 feet, four inches above the place that it occupied from 1973 until 2002. Separated by a 15-foot “buffer zone,” as the building’s owner described it, four advertising panels, eight by eighteen feet, will occupy the area beneath the sculpture. The compromise included a proposal to illuminate The Wall at night under a plan to be designed by lighting expert Leni Schwendinger, acclaimed for the lighting of Coney Island’s Parachute Jump.

At the hearing, the owner’s attorney Michael Sillerman presented elevations comparing the art piece’s original location to its proposed raised position, arguing that the proposal would enhance sight lines of Myers’ art. Sillerman also provided views of the sculpture and the proposed ad panels along Houston, where the ad panels seem dwarfed by neighboring full-building- wall ads. The materials also emphasized the size of the ad panels compared to standard billboards and the overall size of Myers’ sculpture, which will occupy an 88-foot by 86-foot area.

Landmarks’ unanimous vote ended a controversy that started in 1997 when the building owner applied to Landmarks to remove Myers’ art piece. After a controversial hearing, Landmarks denied the request and the owner sued. Although a court upheld Landmarks’ decision, it ultimately found that ownership of the art piece rested with a now-defunct not-for-profit and if the City forced the owner to keep Myers’ sculpture in place, it would constitute a taking of property. (See CityLand’s past coverage here.)

LPC: 599 Broadway (07-2920) (April 24, 2007).

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