Landmarks approves 14- story tower on 21st Street

Plans for glass tower win approval after modifications. On January 15, 2008, Landmarks granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to A&R Development to construct a new 14- story building at 16 West 21st Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. The Morris Adjmi-designed tower will replace a two-story parking garage and will feature sandblasted brick blocks to echo the area’s characteristic light stone brick buildings. A similar building was proposed for West 18th Street in 2005, but Landmarks rejected that proposal because it called for the demolition of an 1867stable. 2 CityLand 169 (Dec. 2005).

At an earlier December 11th public hearing, Leo Blackman of the Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District testified that the tower would “evoke the ghost of a historic structure, made fresh and of its time.” Blackman, however, objected to the tower’s illuminated residential canopy and to the fact it did not have a proper storefront. Similarly, the Historic Districts Council applauded the “creative use of glass,” but objected to the proposed canopy and atypical storefront, which it claimed were out of step with the district’s historic architecture. Commissioners Margery Perlmutter, Roberta Brandes-Gratz, and Pablo Vengochea agreed, praising the proposal but calling for “minor tweaking.”

The architects returned to Landmarks with a new proposal that removed the canopy and altered the columns on the first three floors. Landmarks warmly received the amended proposal by and large, but Commissioner Stephen Byrns stated that further modifications were still necessary. Landmarks then voted unanimously to grant a conditional Certificate of Appropriateness that requires the architects to work with Landmarks staff on the remaining issues of concern.

LPC: 16 West 21st St., Manhattan (COFA# 08-3489) (Jan. 15, 2008).

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