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Carter's View

A plan by the Metropolitan Transportaton Authority to erect a 40-foot-tall ventilation building on the Greenwich Village site of a fence covered about 1,000 tiles memorializing the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has drawn criticism from members of Community Board 2, according to an article in this week's edition of The Villager by Albert Amateau.

The ventilation building is meant to service the Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue subway lines and it is at one of the most important intersections in Greenwich Village on the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue South and Greenwich Avenue which is just to the south of St. Vincent's Hospital.

According to the article, Shirley Secunda, the chairperson of the board's traffic and transportation committee said that the proposed structure is "an insult" and Jo Hamilton, the chairperson of the board, said "it looks like a bombed-out building," adding that "You can't just cover a concrete bunker with a faux hanging facade." Another board member, Alex Meadows, was quoted in the article as described the plan as "atrocious."

The MTA design calls for the structure to be mostly covered with "a false brick facade and fake windows," the article said.

"The $108.9 million emergency ventilation plant is a life-safety project, subject only to advisory review, whose cost is included in the state budget pending before the Legislature in Albany. Construction could begin by the end of this year with completion in 2014," the article stated, adding that Adrienne Taub of the MTA said that the agency "had presented several alternatives during the past three years."

"But there is an outside chance to change the design of the project at the triangular lot," the article continued, noting that "Brad Hoylman, the board's former chairperson, said this week that the board was working to get the faux facade eliminated from the design and to get the entire building covered with red brick."

The M.T.A. uses the fenced lot for parking. For many years, its western half was used as a gas station and its eastern half was occupied by a White Tower restaurant popular with Villagers who frequented the Loew's Sheridan movie theater on the northwest corner of the intersection, which was demolished by St. Vincent's Hospital to make way for a truck facility, and the Greenwich movie theater, which was rebuilt several years ago into a gym further west on Greenwich Avenue.

The article said that "the design of the ventilation building calls for a horizontal band along the Seventh Ave. South side with about 800 of the existing 1,500 memorial tiles behind glass."

"Joe Flahaven, a public member of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, speculated that a future developer of the nearby St. Vincent's Hospital site might want to maintain park furniture and plantings on the space," the article said.
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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.