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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)
 
 

Carter's View

Hines Interests presented its plans for a new residential condominium project, every floor of which will have different, multi-faceted, clear-glass facades, at 122 Greenwich Avenue fronting on Jackson Square to the land-use and aesthetics committee of Community Board 2 last night.

The elegant but very modern design rekindled a community debate on whether the changing nature of new construction in the area is altering the "context" of "historic districts."

The presentation was led by the project's architect, William Pedersen, the design partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox and one of the world's foremost architects whose masterworks include 333 Wacker Drive in Chicago, the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Parkhaven Tower in Rotterdam, the Rodin Museum in Seoul, South Korean, Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, and the Westend Strasse 1/DZ Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt.

While best-known for the poetic grace of his skyscrapers, Mr. Pedersen's design is quite modest with a low-rise wing along its frontage on Greenwich Avenue at 13th Street and a 11-story setback tower at its north end. The angled site falls within two zoning districts. Mr. Pedersen told the committee that his first reaction was to try to "level" off the project, but he finally decided to conform it to the existing regulations except for a slight increase in building height to provide taller ground floor spaces.

The planned building is distinguished by its unusual facade that consists of randomly spaced floor-to-ceiling bronze-colored mullions and windows of varying widths to create a very faceted facade that would also have gray-colored vertical window blinds.

The building will have 36 apartments and Mr. Pedersen said that its design was influenced in part by Richard Morris Hunt's design of the former Jackson Square Library building at 251 West 13th Street. The building does not extend all the way to 14th Street and so its north wall will be blank, but Mr. Pedersen has divided it into three vertical sections to make it more visually interesting.

Hines Interests is one of the nation's major developers whose skyscrapers have revitalized many urban skylines in the United States.

The committee meeting at 75 Morton Street was standing room only and lasted for four-and-a-half hours and Doris Diether, the committee's chairperson announced that the project will be the subject of a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission March 7.

The committee voted 6 to 2 to oppose the authorization of a certificate of appropriateness by the landmarks commission. The project falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District and is much smaller than nearby buildings on West 14th Street and Horatio Street.

Several committee members praised the design but argued that it was "inappropriate" for the historic character of the historic district.

Mr. Pedersen, shown at the right, said that the site, now occupied by a parking lot, has been undeveloped for half a century and deserves an important building to mark the intersection of the West Village and Chelsea neighborhoods.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation," argued that the project does not "reinforce" the "historical" historical nature of the district.

One neighborhood resident exclaimed that "we certainly don't need any more high-end retail in the Village," and others were critical of undulating glass towers, a reference to the apartment complex nearing completion just to the west of Cooper Union in the East Village.

Peter Samton of Gruzen Samton, an architectural firm with offices close to Jackson Square, however, praised the design as did several other residents of nearby buildings.
Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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