Landmarks Approves Plan to Replace Garage and Factory Building in NoHo with Seven-Story Building

Credit: Selldorf Architects and Radii Inc.

Approval gained after design modification based on comments from earlier Landmarks hearing. On May 15, 2012, Landmarks approved a revised proposal by 8-12 Development Partners LLC to replace a garage and factory building with a new seven-story building at the corner of Bond and Lafayette Streets in the NoHo Historic District. In March 2006, Landmarks approved a plan to demolish the buildings and replace them with a proposed hotel. Landmarks in December 2009 issued a certificate of appropriateness for the project, but it expired without any work taking place. The new proposal was for an entirely new project. 8-12 Development Partners plans to use the new building for residential purposes. The building will abut a recently approved building at the corner of Great Jones and Lafayette Streets designed by Morris Adjmi.

At a Landmarks hearing in April 2012, the project’s architect, Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects, presented a design for an 85-foot tall, six-story building, with a setback seventh floor penthouse. The seventh floor would be set back ten feet on Bond Street and four feet on Lafayette Street.  The building would feature terra cotta spandrels and piers that Selldorf said would echo the historic masonry cladding of the neighborhood. Horizontal bands of windows would stripe the two visible facades. The building would be clad in Cor-Ten steel at the ground floor, and windows would be framed in black aluminum The design included a rounded corner with large curved glass windows.  Selldorf stated that the polished terra-cotta elements would gain luster and depth as they aged.  She provided examples of corner buildings with rounded corners and banded facades. The lot is zoned M1-5B, and according to Greenberg Traurig attorney Deirdre Carson, the project will need a variance from the zoning regulation’s bulk requirements.

The developer's initial design.

Manhattan Community Board 2 opposed the project, with CB 2’s Doris Diether testifying that the building’s horizontal emphasis and glass corner was inappropriate for the district. The Historic District Council’s Nadezhda Williams also testified in opposition, characterizing the building’s Cor-Ten steel base as “bleak.” The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s Amanda Davis did not object to the proposed demolition, or to the project’s size, but argued that the design could be “much more engaging.”

The commissioners generally found the project’s size and scale appropriate, but some commissioners said the design needed refinement. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter noted that Bond Street had been drawing high quality contextual architecture, and found that the building’s rounded corner would not be strong enough for the site. Perlmutter argued that the penthouse should not be treated as an addition, but as an integrated part of the whole. Commissioner Diana Chapin suggested that a masonry corner would be more appropriate. Commissioner Michael Goldblum praised the “lush, wonderful, seductive materials,” but agreed that the building needed more refinement and depth. Chair Robert B. Tierney asked the applicants to rethink elements of the design and return to Landmarks.

At Landmarks’ meeting on May 15, 2012, Selldorf presented a revised design that retained the essential materials and scale of the previous proposal.  The seventh floor would still be set back from Lafayette and Bond Streets, but Cor-Ten steel trellises would be built at the streetwall, framing the penthouse. Spandrels would be made more prominent and “voluptuous,” while the storefront would be raised in height and further differentiated from the upper floors. The building’s columns would consist of concave terra cotta panels in steel frames. The building’s corner would now be angular rather than rounded. Selldorf described the corner’s terra cotta panels as being “held in suspension” by the steel frame.

The commissioners responded positively to the revisions. Vice Chair Pablo Vengoechea said that Selldorf had found the correct balance between horizontality and verticality. Commissioner Goldblum found that the trellis gave the building a “strong presence against the sky,” and said the project captured the requisite “level of refinement” for the district. Praising the design, Commissioner Christopher Moore stated that “great architects just come back with something better.” Commissioners Margery Perlmutter and Roberta Washington were ambivalent about the trellis, but nevertheless joined in a unanimous vote for approval.

LPC: 8-12 Bond Street, Manhattan (12-9516) (May 15, 2012) (Architect: Selldorf Architects).

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