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The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved Tuesday the redevelopment of Pier A and that vote will permit the Battery Park City Authority to finish stabilizing and restoring the structure.

"Hoping to inject new energy into the long-delayed restoration of the 124-year-old building jutting out of Manhattan's southwestern tip, the city leased Pier A to the B.P.C. Authority two years ago and gave the authority $30 million to get Pier A ready for a commercial tenant," according to an article in this week's edition of the Downtown Express by Julie Shapiro, which said that on Wednesday "the authority said it had received seven proposals from 'very reputable teams.'"

The article noted that the building has been vacant for many years and that its "underwater supports were crumbling, and the entire three-story building leaned several degrees to the south," adding that H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture is "now working for the B.P.C. Authority to complete restorations that Wings Point, a previous developer, started in the 1990s and abandoned part way through." "Most of that work had already been approved by the L.P.C., but H3 made a few changes that the commissioners needed to review on Tuesday," the article continued, adding that "The only controversial change was e color scheme for the building. The commissioners approved of H3's plan to keep the roof a pale green, similar to copper's patina, but they disliked the plan to paint the building dark beige with light cream trim. For most of Pier A's history, the shades were reversed: the building had a lighter base with darker trim." The architects then came back to the commission with new renderings showing a lighter base and darker trim and the commission approved the project.

Restoration by the authority is expected to be completed by spring 2011.

"Originally conceived as an outpost for the New York Harbor Police and the Dept. of Docks," the article continued, "Pier A opened in 1886 as a mixture of offices and spaces for boats to tie up and unload. The 'A' in Pier A stands for 'administrative,' and as time passed the building slowly converted entirely to office space for government entities that managed the waterfront, said Jason Van Nest, an architect with H3. Each generation brought additions and alterations to the pier, some more historically sensitive than others. When the Fire Dept. took over in 1964, they stripped the building of all its metal cladding and used the interior as a pipe and woodworking shop, destroying much of the original fabric, Van Nest said. The F.D.N.Y. also used the pier as a fireboat station. One of the most visible historic features of Pier A is the clock tower on the far end, built as the nation and the city's first World War I memorial in 1919. Van Nest said the clock's face is in good shape, with the hands still attached, but he isn't sure whether the clock can be made to work again."

In an article by Carl Glassman in this week's edition of the TriBeCa Trib, Jack Martin, H3 Hardy Collaboration's project architect, said that the pier is "so important," adding that "It was the back door to Battery Park City for so many years, and now it's becoming the front door."
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.