Fashion Institute of Technology’s proposed academic building required street wall height and setback approvals. The Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York, applied to BSA for a special permit to construct a ten-story addition to its existing nine-story academic building on the south side of West 28th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The 15,092 sq.ft. site is currently occupied by a walled-in courtyard and surrounded by FIT’s academic and student life facilities.
The design calls for a building with a 134-foot street wall that would set back eight feet, before rising to a maximum height of 144 feet. The plan includes creating between the existing building and the new structure a full-height atrium that would allow natural light to reach all floors of both buildings. FIT required a special permit because the site’s C6-2 zoning regulations permitted a maximum street wall height of 85 feet with a minimum twenty-foot setback, and because the building would penetrate the sky exposure plane.
At BSA, Frank Chaney, representing FIT, claimed that the proposed building was necessary to provide sufficient educational space to address a 400,000 sq.ft. space shortfall, and that the design would integrate the addition with the existing buildings on the site. FIT argued that a complying building would reduce the atrium’s depth and alter the amount of natural light reaching the classrooms and studios, a critical concern for design work involving color and texture.
BSA granted the special permit, ruling that the modifications were necessary to integrate the proposed building with FIT’s campus. BSA added that any disadvantage to the community due to the modifications would be outweighed by the advantages derived by the community from FIT’s expansion.
BSA: 220-236 West 28th Street, Manhattan (176-09-BZ) (Oct. 6, 2009) (Margery Perlmutter, Bryan Cave, for FIT).