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Carter's View

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved yesterday the designs of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson for a 13-story hotel at 25 Great Jones Street that extends through the block to Bond Street between Lafayette Street and the Bowery.

The project lies within the recently created NoHo Historic District but construction began before the district was created. An article by Matt Chaban today at noted that "while many commissioners acknowledged they never would have approved such a tall, acontextual building, they were limited to critiquing the facade."

"The vote means construction, which had been on hold since mid-January pending the commission's approval, should resume within four weeks, according to Barbara Resnicow, director of project management for the developer," according to the article.

The article noted that Elizabeth Ryan, a member of the commission, commented that she "can't quite say we're making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but we are giving an eye to art and architecture in an area long known for it, and hopefully that will take the eye away from what's problematic about this building."

The developer, Second Development Services (SDS) originally commissioned H. Thomas O'Hara and then TKA Studio as the architectural firm for the 48-room hotel, but then switched to Smith-Miller + Hawkinson to rework the facade because of its recent successes with the landmarks commission.

The new design replaced metallic sides with a dark gray stucco facade behind a mesh screen etched with a floral pattern. Last month the commission heard testimony from the community that was largely opposed to the project because of its height, but Community Board 2 voted to support the design as being superior to the earlier plan.

On Bond Street, the building will have a 30-foot-tall, wavy fence behind which will be a courtyard with a restaurant. Bond Street between Lafeyette and the Bowery has become, in less than a decade's time, one of the most high-profile blocks in the city as it contains Herzog & de Meuron's 40 Bond Street with its "graffiti" fence and dark green glass columns, BKSK's sandstone residential building at 25 Bond Street, Deborah Berke's black-glass 48 Bond Street, and Stephen Harris's shuttered 41-43 Bond Street as well as curved and modern residential building designed by Meltzer/Mandl Architectus at 57 Bond Street for Alchemy Properties.

"I just think this is such an excellent project making so much out of so little that was provided to you," Commissioner Margery Perlmutter told Henry Smith-Miller, the architect, at the meeting, according to the article.

The article said that another commissioner, Roberta Brandes Gratz, remarked that "This is a very inventive solution to an unfortunate and challenging problem, but as a solution, it will go a long way to overcoming this out-of-scale building."

The mid-block site is just to the east of a vacant lot where BKSK Architects have designed a 6-story, modern hotel building for Olmstead Properties at 363 Lafayette Street and the former site of the Jones Diner and next door to the studio of famous artist Chuck Close who has been concerned about losing his light.
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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.