St.Vincent’s plan advances

Rudin Management’s proposed development along West 12th Street. Courtesy of FXFOWLE Architects.

Rudin Management presented revised plan for residential component. Having approved the design of a new St. Vincent’s hospital on the west side of Seventh Avenue between West 12th and 13th Streets, Landmarks considered an associated residential development for the east side of the avenue. The development would occupy land currently home to St. Vincent’s hospital complex in the Greenwich Village Historic District. When first presented, the residential component garnered significant criticism. Local residents, elected officials, and preservationists opposed the height and bulk of the proposed tower along Seventh Avenue, as well as the destruction of historically significant buildings within the hospital complex. 5 CityLand 61 (May 15, 2008).

At the hearing, Rudin Management president Bill Rudin testified that it reduced massing of the Seventh Avenue tower in its new plan. Rudin then emphasized that the new plan would preserve and reuse four historically significant structures, the Nurses’ Residence and the Spellman, Smith, and Raskob buildings. The company would also work with P.S. 41 to create a new elementary school.

FXFowle architect Dan Kaplan explained that Rudin proposed to reduce the height of the Seventh Avenue building from 266 to 233 ft., and the width by 50 feet. The design distributed the mass among the midblock buildings, with penthouses built on top of Spellman, and additions constructed to Smith and Raskob. The new plan also included five, five-story townhouses along West 11th Street, a nine-story building to replace the Reiss Building on West 12th Street, and alterations to the facades and ground floors of the reused buildings.

Commissioners generally agreed that the proposal represented an improvement over previous iterations, but the bulk and height of the Seventh Avenue tower remained a sticking point. Commissioners Roberta Washington, Libby Ryan, and Roberta Brandes Gratz argued that Rudin should modify the facades of the reused buildings as little as possible. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter found the massing of the Seventh Avenue building “entirely inappropriate,” and advised that Rudin distinguish the new buildings from the old, as there was no rationale for modeling new residential buildings on an institutional hospital aesthetic.

Commissioner Stephen Byrns, unlike most of the other commissioners, did not object to the Seventh Avenue building’s scale, finding it a “gateway building” to the district. Commissioner Fred Bland found the general approach appropriate, but objected to several design elements. Bland stated that the new infill buildings were “wandering close to generic,” and that the terraced townhouses looked “like a piece of a large apartment tower” and had no historic precedent.

Chair Robert B. Tierney expressed his belief that the project was “on the way to being found appropriate,” and closed the public meeting.

LPC: 1 Seventh Avenue, Manhattan (COFA# 08-4934); 2 Seventh Avenue, Manhattan (COFA# 08-8617) (May 12, 2009).

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