Extension to IFC Theater on Cornelia Street-Facing Vacant Lot Approved

Proposed building at 14 Cornelia Street. Image credit: Kilment Halsband Architects

Proposed building at 14 Cornelia Street. Image credit: Kilment Halsband Architects

Applicants returned to Landmarks after modifying base to better relate to the block’s residential and commercial character. On November 17, 2015, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve the construction of a new building at 14 Cornelia Street in the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II. The lot is currently vacant. The building will serve as an extension to the IFC Center, which faces 323 Sixth Avenue, and will allow the Center to add more screening rooms and a lobby. Landmarks considered an initial proposal on October 13, 2015.

At the October hearing, a design was presented by architect Frances Halsband. The proposed building was clad in red brick, as are many of the districts historic structures, with a base composed primarily of glass. There would be no access to the Center on Cornelia Street, only emergency egress. The base was intended to recall the retail storefronts of the street and the district on the ground floors of residential buildings. At the upper stories angled glass panels, backed by gray metal would recall the district’s window patterns. No actual windows above the base would be installed because of the movie-theater use.

Commissioners found the proposal generally appropriate in its materials, design, and massing, and found the addition of space would further the Center’s contribution to the cultural life of the neighborhood. Some commissioners, however, objected to the faux storefront on the ground level, with Adi Shamir-Baron terming it “awkward.”

The revised plan had much less glazing on the ground floor, done with the addition of solid zinc panels to the base. Two recessed exit doors would flank the ground floor facade. A metal band above the base would separate the ground floor from the upper stories. The glass in the nine-foot windows would be heavily fritted, allowing sidewalk pedestrians to see activity in the lobby, but not much detail. Halsband said the windows would be translucent to point where “you can see people, but won’t know who they are.”

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan found the revised proposal to successfully mix solids and glazing at the ground floor to take advantage of the unique residential and retail character of Cornelia Street, while also furthering the Center’s programmatic needs .Srinivasan that residents of the street had a opposed a functional entrance to the new building, which they feared would lead to congregations of loitering crowds on the sidewalk. Srinivasan noted that the project would also have the salutary effect of filling in the gap in the streetwall caused by the vacant lot. Commissioner Michael Goldblum commended the applicants for skillfully scaling the base for the “quieter part” of Cornelia Street.

Commissioner Shamir-Baron was the sole dissenter from the vote for approval, saying “I still think it’s a mistake to treat the streetfront facade as the back of the building.”

LPC: 14 Cornelia Street, Manhattan (17-5381) (Nov. 17, 2015) (Architects: Kliment Halsband Architects).

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

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