NoHo hotel design approved

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Despite residents’ and preservationists’ objections, exterior redesigns for partially-built Great Jones Street hotel approved. On March 16, 2009, Landmarks approved Louis Greco and SDS Great Jones LLC’s application to alter the proposed exterior of a planned thirteen-story hotel at 25 Great Jones Street in the NoHo Historic District. In January 2008, Buildings granted permits for the hotel prior to the historic district’s designation in May 2008. The partially-built structure currently occupies the property. Because of the valid permit, Landmarks had no oversight over the building’s height and massing, but the developer needed Landmarks approval for the proposed revisions to the hotel’s exterior.

At a January 19 hearing, architect Henry Smith-Miller presented the design proposal for the hotel’s skin, entrances, and courtyards. Smith-Miller explained that a stainless steel scrim with botanical etchings would cover the hotel’s glass facades. A 30-foot tall gate of asymmetrical metal slats would be built at the sidewalk edge of the hotel’s Bond Street frontage, and a courtyard fronting Great Jones Street would be hidden behind a planted bamboo stand. Residents and preservationists testifying at the hearing largely opposed the project. Commissioners expressed support for the overall design, and asked the developer to return with revised plans. 7 CityLand 9 (Feb. 15, 2010).

At the March meeting, Smith- Miller presented samples of the project’s materials, including a piece of the laser-etched scrim that would cover the north and south facades. Smith-Miller noted that the mesh’s botanical pattern would echo the floral motifs of the area’s neoclassical architecture. Smith-Miller also provided samples of the stucco that would coat the building’s sidewalls, and he noted that the Bond Street frontage’s proposed 30-foot gate would now consist of undulating laminated wood or metal slats. Small windows would punctuate the western sidewall in a random pattern, which Smith-Miller planned in order to alleviate the “horrible repetitiveness of a typical hotel.” In response to concerns raised at the January hearing, Smith-Miller submitted testimony from an arborist stating that the proposed bamboo stand would thrive at the location.

Commissioner Margery Perlmutter enthusiastically endorsed the plan, finding it particularly appropriate for a district known for the arts and artists. She did express skepticism about the durability of the bamboo stand. Commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz called the proposal an “inventive solution to an unfortunate challenging problem.” Commissioner Libby Ryan supported the proposal, but called the existing building “truly ugly and out of proportion” and said the only thing she could give the developer credit for is hiring the current design team to improve on the situation. Chair Robert B. Tierney said the project required creativity and a “unique and powerful analysis,” and that the architect provided it.

Landmarks voted unanimously to approve the design.

LPC: 25 Great Jones Street (10-3725) (March 16, 2010) (Architect: SMH+).

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