New 18-story building approved for West 21st Street

Modern apartment building in traditional manufacturing district approved. The Brodsky Organization applied for a permit to build an 18- story apartment building in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District on a vacant lot at 4-10 West 21st Street, which had been rezoned in August 2004 to permit as-of-right residential development. Hugh Hardy, of H3Hardy Collaboration Architecture, LLC, designed the 93,000 sq.ft. building to contain 62 apartment units, 105 parking spaces and 6,000 sq.ft. of retail space. Hardy characterized the process of designing a new building within a historic district as a balancing act, trying to “honor tradition without being trapped by it.”

The design responds to the materials and the traditional grid design of the surrounding historic lofts, but implements a secondary asymmetrical grid, which “slides over” the traditional one. Community Board 5 and the Municipal Art Society both supported the modern design, but the Historic Districts Council and Jack Taylor of the Drive to Preserve Ladies’ Mile objected to the “chaotic” asymmetrical infill pattern and use of bay windows as disruptive to the historic district.

Landmarks approved the design. Commissioner Richard Olcott, who voted to approve, commented that the design takes a classical system, but interprets it like “jazz.” The permit’s issuance is pending approval of final plans by Landmarks.

LPC Item No. 3, Case No. 05-2262, 4-10 West 21st Street (November 9, 2004).

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