Design for new building on Walker Street features reverse relief of castiron facade. On June 14, 2011, Landmarks approved Abra Construction’s proposal to develop a nine-story residential building on a narrow, vacant lot at 83 Walker Street in the Tribeca East Historic District. Landmarks in 2003 approved a plan to build an eight-story glass and metal building on the lot, but the project was never developed.
Architect Morris Adjmi presented Abra’s proposal at Landmarks’ hearing on May 17. Adjmi described the building’s facade as a “negative of a cast-iron building,” in which the features of a typical cast iron facade would be reversed. Instead of curving out, columns would be indented into the glass-reinforced concrete facade. The cornice would step back instead of forward, and windows would protrude from the facade instead of being recessed. The building would feature three window bays, and as initially proposed, the slightly taller ground floor would feature the same arched windows as the rest of the building. In addition to Landmarks’ approval, Abra would also need to obtain City Planning Commission variances to modify the zoning resolution’s height and setback requirements.
The Historic Districts Council’s Nadezhda Williams called the proposal “an interesting thing to contemplate,” but suggested that it might not be compatible with the block. Williams also expressed concern about the durability of the glass-reinforced concrete. Manhattan Community Board 1 approved the plan by a vote of 18-13-1.
The Commissioners generally supported the design, but recommended revising the building’s base. Commissioner Fred Bland suggested that the ground floor be clad in metal rather than concrete and believed transom windows rather than arched windows would strengthen the base. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter called the project “a fascinating idea,” but argued that the ground floor had “the wrong vocabulary.” Commissioners Michael Devonshire, Diana Chapin, and Joan Gerner found the project approvable as presented. Adjmi agreed to rethink the base, and Chair Robert B. Tierney asked the applicant to return with a revised proposal.
Adjmi returned in June with a revised proposal, featuring, among other things, a squared-off entrance and display windows. Chair Tierney complimented Adjmi on the revisions, and Landmarks unanimously approved the proposal.
LPC: 83 Walker St., Manhattan (11- 7388) (June 14, 2011) (Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects).