Four-story addition near High Line approved

Image: Courtesy of Morris Adjmi Architects

Project approved after height was further reduced by eight feet. On July 19, 2011, Landmarks approved Taconic Investment Partners’ revised proposal to build a four-story addition above a low-rise Moderne-style building across the street from the High Line at 837 Washington Street in the Gansevoort Market Historic District. Taconic first proposed a seven-story addition in November 2010, which it then reduced and resubmitted to Landmarks in April of 2011. The Commissioners generally praised the Morris Adjmi-designed torqued glass and steel tower, but expressed reservations about approving such a large and visible addition to a contributing building in a historic district. 8 CityLand 62 (May 15, 2011).

At a June meeting, Taconic presented a plan nearly identical in design to the previous iteration, but with floor heights reduced to create a building eight feet shorter than the prior proposal. Architectural consultant Bill Higgins explained that the vertical steel beams would now be visible through the storefronts of the existing building, which demonstrated the interplay between the new addition and existing building. 

While the Commissioners approved of the design, they were concerned about what kind of precedent the proposal would have. General Counsel Mark Silberman predicted that the project would result in more developers seeking to build large and visible additions. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter noted that the district had evolved from an industrial area to a residential neighborhood, and that buildings in the district should be allowed to grow vertically. Noting that the district included buildings in a variety of heights and styles, Commissioner Michael Goldblum stated that the proposal allowed the area “to change in an appropriate way.” Chair Robert B. Tierney would have liked to see the project further reduced by one story, but he did not want to counter the majority of support. Tierney did not believe that the approval would establish a precedent, noting that the proposal set a “high bar” by virtue of the quality of the architecture and the “expression of ideas.”

Commissioners Libby Ryan and Michael Devonshire voted against approval. Ryan said that while the design would be exciting, she believed it would be inappropriate to add four-stories to a contributing building. Devonshire would have supported the proposal if it had been one story shorter, but believed that the current plan was like adding a “ten-gallon hat” to the building.

LPC: 837 Washington St., Manhattan (11-3143) (July 19, 2011) (Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects).

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