NoHo addition questioned

Neighbors and preservationists opposed three-story rooftop addition planned for four-story building. On October 18, 2011, Landmarks considered Jeffrey Kamen’s proposal to add a cantilevered three-story addition on top of his four-story building at 33 Bond Street in the NoHo Historic District Extension. The Italianate store-and-loft building was built in the 1830s, and extensively altered in the early 20th century. In 2003, Kamen added a thirty-foot tall, three-story structure in the rear yard used as rental office space. The rear addition’s first and second floors are adjoined to the main building, which is used as a suite of offices.

Kamen is also the project’s architect, and he presented the proposal. The addition would slope back from the streetwall to minimize visibility from the street and cantilever over the building’s rear facade. A glass skylight at the bottom of the addition’s cantilever reaching the rear yard structure would create an atrium for the office tenants. Kamen planned to preserve the building’s rear brick facade and replace existing deteriorated windows with historic bronze double-hung windows. The rooftop addition would be built using iron-spot brick and glass, with copper paneling. Kamen described the proposal, which would reach the height of the neighboring buildings, as “connective tissue between two dominant masses.” 

Neighbors and preservationists opposed the proposal. Manhattan Community Board 2’s Jane McCarthy urged denial, stating that the addition would be too visible and would block the light and air of nearby residents. McCarthy said that CB 2 could not support a single element of the proposal. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s Elizabeth Finkelstein argued that proposal would overwhelm the original building and would completely obscure its rear facade. Brent Buell, who lives across the street, feared that the proposal would set a bad precedent for other low-rise buildings on the block.

In response to the testimony, Kamen said he would work with neighbors to minimize potential impacts, but argued that the addition would not block their light and air.

The Commissioners were concerned about the project’s impact on the existing building. Vice Chair Pablo Vengoechea said Kamen needed to reduce and simplify the proposal, stating that it was “cramming too much on a very small site.” Commissioner Fred Bland said the proposal overwhelmed the existing building. Commissioner Joan Gerner called the design beautiful, but believed the building was too small to handle the large addition. Chair Robert B. Tierney found the atrium to be “anomalous” for the district and asked Kamen to return with a scaled-down proposal.

LPC: 33 Bond Street, Manhattan (10- 5277) (Oct. 18, 2011) (Architects: Jeffrey Kamen Architect).

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