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

Carter's View

A revised design for a proposed, 31-story, mixed-use tower at 20 West 40th Street was presented this afternoon to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which had held a hearing on the prior design in January.

The proposal requires some building waivers and seeks to use a restoration plan for the former Knox Hat Building that had been approved in 1994 when the Republic National Bank intended to develop this long-vacant site, which extends through to 39th Street. The bank had developed the large office tower directly south of the Knox Hat Building in 1981 and at that time received a building bonus for agreeing to maintain the Knox Hat Building, which was incorporated into its new building program at the site, in good condition.

The bank, which is now part of HSBC, decided not to proceed with the new building and therefore did not start the restoration program.

According to Morris Adjmi, the project's architect, the proposed building is a transition between the taller HSBC (formerly Republic Bank of New York) tower that wraps around the Knox Building, and the landmark American Radiator Building, now the Bryant Park Hotel, further west on 40th Street.

The proposed building is across 40th Street from the landmark New York Public Library.

The tower will have 150 hotel rooms and 64 residential condominium apartments.

The new tower would be a couple of doors to the west of the 29-story tower at 450 Fifth Avenue that was erected by the Republic National Bank in 1985 and designed by Eli Attia with a staggered north facade that wraps around the former Knox Hat Building.

The Knox building was designed by John H. Duncan in 1902 and sensitively remodeled into a bank building by Kahn & Jacobs in 1965. While it would have more floors, the proposed new tower would, in fact, be shorter than the tower at 450 Fifth Avenue.

The proposed restoration of the former Knox building will recreate a curved glass entrance marquee on Fifth Avenue, replace a missing cast-iron railing on a cornice, replace non-original multi-pane windows with single-pane windows, make various needed repairs, but retain the non-original storefront configuration on 40th Street because it is bettered centered to the upper facade. Several commissioners agreed retaining the non-aligned storefront facades was preferable.

The new tower will be known as "The View at Bryant Park" and is a project of the 40th Street Development LLC, which is in contract to purchase the property from HSBC Bank.

The major change in the revised design occurred at the top where a colonnade has been replaced with greenery.

A "sidecar" low-rise wing of the building on 40th Street was reduced two floors in height in the new design.

The building's residential entrance would be closest to Fifth Avenue and the hotel's entrance would be in the middle of the 40th Street facade while a restaurant will occupy the ground-floor space to the west. The main hotel lobby will be on the second floor, which will have broad windows. The hotel will occupy floors 2 through 16.

Several commissioners said that the new design was an improvement, and most said they had no problem with the tower's height.

The tower will have a dark gray limestone cladding at its base and a clear-glass facade above with a light-gray-limestone "punched" grid that would protrude about a foot from the windows, which will have aluminum spandrels.

Commission chairman Robert Tierney remarked that the "top needs to the re-thought and more attention given to the harmonious refinement of the base" and he asked the applicant to return at a future date.
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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