Radical Redesign Wins Approval for Development of Vacant Lots

Updated rendering of 100 Franklin Street in the Tribeca Historic District. Image Courtesy of DDG.

Updated rendering of 100 Franklin Street in the Tribeca Historic District. Image Courtesy of DDG.

Applicants amended plan to feature primarily masonry façade, in light of criticism of previous glass-faced plan.  On January 14, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve a plan from DDG Partners to develop two adjacent, triangular-shaped lots currently used for parking, located at 100 Franklin Street in the Tribeca East Historic District. The Commission previously held a hearing on the proposed development on November 12, 2013.

At the November hearing, representatives of Manhattan Community Board 1, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and community and preservationist groups spoke in opposition to the proposal, which would have been faced in a glass rain screen with a façade composed of reclaimed brick behind it. The building would have featured an undulating roofscape composed of opaque glass panels, intended to be reminiscent of historic slate roofs with mansards.  Residents and preservationists who opposed the proposal largely objected to the large amount of glass on the façade. Community Board 1 recommended that the Commission, at a minimum, reject the roof and bulkheads.

Although the Commission determined that a development of the proposed scale was acceptable for the site, Commissioners advised that the design required significant modifications before it could be found appropriate. Commissioners commented that the design was “muddled” and “frantic.” Some Commissioners agreed that the facade should feature less glass and that the roof and bulkheads should be redesigned and minimized.

At the most recent meeting in January 2014, DDG architect Peter Guthrie presented the revised proposal. Guthrie stated that the Commissioner comments at the previous hearing had been “humbling, yet highly constructive.” The design team again reviewed the context of the historic district, and sought to create a proposal that was less “exuberant” and “complicated.” They settled on a design for a building mostly clad in brick that was hand-made in Denmark and inspired by the numerous masonry buildings of the area. A planter would be integrated above the building’s first floor, which would serve to “delineate the base.” The individual structures on the two-triangle shaped building sites would be connected by masonry jack arches. The building would be topped by a clerestory at the uppermost floors, and the two structures would each match the height of the parapets of adjoining buildings on Franklin and White Streets.

Commissioner Fred Bland called the revised design “extraordinary and exhilarating,” and said his criticisms of the project at initial hearing had been resolved “in the right way.” Commissioner Libby Ryan praised the attention to materials in the revised proposal, as well as their skillful employment in the design. Commissioner Michael Devonshire called the new design “brilliant,” and Commissioner Diana Chapin said she looked forward to seeing the structures built. The Commissioners voted unanimously to issue the project a certificate of appropriateness.

LPC: 100 Franklin Street, Manhattan (14-9035) (Jan. 14, 2014) (Architect: DDG Partners). 

By: Jesse Denno  (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law). 

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