Finding of Appropriateness Granted for Seventh Avenue South Development

Following criticism of earlier design from preservationists and the local Council member, applicants revised design to better integrate with district and reconcile two distinct facades. On October 7, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve an application to demolish an existing one-story building and construct a new five-story development at 192 Seventh Avenue South in the Greenwich Village Historic District at the corner of 11th Street. The building will be residential, with ground-floor retail.

The Landmarks Commission first heard a proposal for the development of the site in April of 2014. The April proposal, with a masonry facade facing 11th Street that would reflect historic brownstone architecture in “an abstracted fashion,” would have a contemporary glass-and-metal curtain wall facing the avenue. The proposal was criticized by Council Member Corey Johnson, as well as preservationist organizations. Commissioners found the proposed architecture to read as too commercial, especially along Seventh Avenue, and recommended that the two distinct facades be better woven together so the new structure would be perceived as one building. Commissioners did not object to the existing building’s demolition.

At the October meeting, Edward Carroll of SRA Architecture and Engineering presented the revised plan. The 11th Street facade would have more articulation after the introduction of lintels, coursing, and sills. It would be clad in brick with a granite base, and a glass-faced studio at the upper level. Masonry bands would be added to the glass portion of the building, aligning with those on 11th Street. Metal on the curtain wall would be changed from black to white, and the base on the avenue would be lowered to better match the district’s historic storefronts. The curtain wall would wrap around the corner onto 11th Street for the width of one bay. Carroll said the revisions would serve to make the new structure more “sympathetic” and “subtle,” though still with two distinct facades that would reflect the cutting through of the block by the extension of Seventh Avenue.

Higgins & Quasebarth’s Cas Stachelberg further testified that the proposal was as-of-right under the lot’s zoning. Stachelberg noted that the existing building on the site, constructed in 1920 and reclad in 1946, was in poor condition and not a contributing building to the district.

Commissioners suggested ways in which the design could be improved, but ultimately determined it was appropriate for the site and the historic district as presented. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan found there were a wide variety of buildings along Seventh Avenue South, and that the revised proposal responded well to its context. Commissioner Michael Goldblum opined that the schism between the two facades was not completely resolved, and the design would be more successful with more masonry added to the base at Seventh Avenue. Goldblum said the proposal “could be a better building,” but still fell within the parameters of appropriateness. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron, alternately, wished to see the two facades rendered more distinct to better reflect the cut-through of the extension of Seventh Avenue. Commissioner John Gustafsson commented “I don’t think any of it is inappropriate,” and the Commissioners unanimously concurred.

LPC: 192 Seventh Avenue South, Manhattan (14-7382) (Oct. 7, 2014) (Architects: SRA Architecture and Engineering).

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