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March 2017
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Archive for 'Preservation'

A Midsummer’s Designation Day: LPC Considers the IRT Powerhouse and More

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is devoting tomorrow morning to the consideration of 5 new individual landmarks in Manhattan, images of which can be viewed below. Continue Reading>>

Chess and Checkers House, A Place that Matters

chess checkers house central park playersThe Chess and Checkers House at Central Park has provided a free and public site where New Yorkers of every age and ability have met, for over half a century, in the ultimate bloodless battle – matching wits with a game of chess. Built in 1952, the popular playing area consists of 24 outdoor tables that are shaded by a leafy canopy, above a rustic pergola, which wraps around a one-story brick building. Perched on a large rock outcropping, once known as the Kinderberg – or “Children’s Mountain” – the Chess and Checkers House is located just west of the Dairy, near 65th Street, in what was originally the park’s Children’s District. The masonry building is decorated with alternating rows of cream and terra cotta-colored brick, creating a series of animated stripes. The complex was added to the park during the reign of Robert Moses, who was fond of organized recreation, and the funding was secured by a donation from the financier and philanthropist Barnard Baruch. Continue Reading>>

MAS Submits Coney Testimony to City Council

The City Council Land-Use Committee could be voting as soon as next week on the Coney Island rezoning.  MAS strongly supports the city’s goal of revitalizing Coney Island. We also strongly support the city’s efforts to acquire land to create a publicly-owned open-air amusement park,  which we believe is the best way to ensure amusements in perpetuity. We do, however, have recommendations to improve the plan, which are detailed in our full written testimony, which have submitted to the City Council along with a massing study (click here to download a PDF) prepared by our Planning Committee.

LPC Approves St. Vincent’s Residential Redevelopment

nurses residence buildingThe Landmarks Preservation Commission today voted to approve the plans proposed by the Rudin Management Company to redevelop the current site of St. Vincent’s hospital into a residential complex. The approved project involves adapting four of the existing buildings – Nurses (pictured), Smith, Raskob, and Spellman – into residential buildings.  In addition, the project involves constructing a series of new infill buildings to replace those hospital buildings that the LPC determined were appropriate to demolish (Reiss, Coleman, Link, and Cronin).  See Map of the Hospital Buildings. The sale of the existing hospital complex on the east side of 7th Avenue to the Rudins will help finance St. Vincent’s construction of a new hospital building on the west side of 7th Avenue, site of the 1960s O’Toole building. The LPC had previously determined that the O’Toole building, a significant piece of Modern architecture, can be demolished under the hardship provision of the Landmarks Law. The entire project still needs to go through the City’s land use review procedure for zoning changes and obtain approval from the New York State Department of Health.

MAS Urges Council to Adopt City’s Plan for Coney, Recommends Improvements

coney island boardwalk sunset skyVin Cipolla, the President of the Municipal Art Society of New York, today testified before the City Council, strongly supporting the city’s goals for Coney Island and suggesting improvements to the rezoning plan in the areas of urban design and preservation. “I am here today to urge the Council to adopt the city’s plan for Coney Island — the city’s plan is the greatest hope for revitalizing Coney Island, which can not be lost to private development interests,” said Mr. Cipolla. “Coney Island is the last great oceanfront park land opportunity in the region — and Coney’s continued demise would be a tragic loss to the citizens of New York, to the country and to the world. MAS strongly believes that the city — that the public — must own enough land at Coney Island to ensure a vital amusements district.” Continue Reading>>

Prospect Heights: The Making of a Historic District

Last week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the 850-building Prospect Heights Historic District, the largest district designated in two decades. MAS made a video about the process of creating the historic district, featuring Councilmember Letitia James, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Robert B. Tierney, historian Francis Morrone, and Gib Veconi of Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), and showing how we worked with PHNDC to survey the historic buildings and promote the area for designation. The result was not just the designation, the act of engaging residents in the process brought the community together and provided a new sense of neighborhood identity. Continue Reading>>

MAS Applauds Prospect Heights Historic District Designation

191 sterling in prospect heightsToday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Prospect Heights Historic District. At 850 buildings, it is the largest historic district designated in two decades. “MAS applauds the Landmarks Preservation Commission for moving to protect this very special neighborhood,” said Lisa Kersavage, senior director of advocacy and policy for the Municipal Art Society. “This is an important act that will protect one of Brooklyn’s finest and well-preserved historic neighborhoods. Designation will protect the neighborhood from pressure from the Atlantic Yards project and other developments.” Prospect Heights is rich in historic architecture, with blocks of beautiful Italianate and neo-Grec rowhouses, interspersed with churches, small commercial and apartment buildings. Continue Reading>>

It’s Raining Landmarks at the LPC

The Landmarks Preservation Commission agenda is packed today with numerous worthy designation items. Check out our slideshow below of the items being calendared, heard, and designated today. MAS is particularly pleased with the proposed designation of the Prospect Heights Historic District in Brooklyn. For nearly three years, the MAS has worked closely with community members, elected officials and the LPC towards protecting the unique character of this largely intact neighborhood with landmark designation for over 800 buildings. Click here to read more about its history. Continue Reading>>

The Amato Opera, A Place that Matters

amato operaThe Amato Opera, which closed its doors on May 31st 2009, may have been called the “world’s smallest opera house,” but it was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for having a huge impact on opera in New York. For over 60 years, the modest company located at 319 Bowery in the East Village provided inexpensive tickets to both opera-lovers and many first-time viewers. And more importantly, like CBGBs, another lost institution on the Bowery, the Amato Opera was a popular showcase where upcoming and amateur performers could earn their chops. The opera company was founded in 1948 by husband and wife team, Sally and Tony Amato, just three years after they married. It opened with a performance of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” staged in the auditorium of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. By 1962 the company had moved to its third and final home on the Bowery. From the beginning, the Amatos had a hand in every aspect of each production – from Tony’s stage direction and lighting schemes, to Sally’s costume and set design. In addition to the familial atmosphere the couple created, with only 107 seats, the small theater offered matchless intimacy, all but eliminating the line between the audience and the performers. Continue Reading>>

Heavy Rain, Neglect Cause Partial Collapse of One Admiral’s Row Building

admirals row front The rain has done more than just ruin our weekend plans recently.  Late this week it led to the partial collapse of one of the Admiral’s Row buildings near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  Quarters C, seen in the right in this picture, was originally constructed prior to 1859 and is the second-oldest of all of the houses on the site.  It was altered with a mansard roof in the 1880s when Quarters H (pictured on the left) was built adjoining it.  MAS had known that Quarters C, unlike the vast majority of the other Admrial’s Row buildings, had major structural problems due to a fire, but we are disappointed that the National Guard, which owns the site, had not secured the buildings better to protect them from further damage from the elements. Thankfully, the New York City Fire Department determined that the remaining portion of Quarters C does not have to be demolished at this time. MAS is calling on the National Guard to make necessary repairs to stabilize the nineteenth century structures as the process deciding the buildings’ future moves forward.  It was recently announced that the National Guard may only require the retention of Quarters A and the Timber Shed.  Nonetheless, MAS is still advocating to save more, and hopefully all, of the significant buildings on the site.  MAS believes that as the owner of the site, the National Guard needs to ensure that the abandoned buildings do not deteriorate any further. For more information on Admiral’s Row and the efforts to preserve the buildings, watch this video. You can also write to the National Guard urging them to make all necessary repairs and do all necessary stabilization work in order to protect the buildings from further decay

CPC to Vote Shortly on Coney Island; MAS Calls for Zoning Changes, Broad Approach

coney island skyline aerialThe ULURP clock for the Coney Island rezoning proposal is ticking. The City certified the zoning proposal in January, and from May until later this month, the City Planning Commission is conducting its review of the proposal. The Commission is likely to vote on the project very soon, after which the proposal will go to the City Council who must vote on the plan by mid-August. MAS testified last month at the City Planning Commission’s public hearing, and shortly after we submitted detailed recommendations for the future of Coney Island. MAS strongly supports the city’s goal of revitalizing Coney Island. We also strongly support the city’s efforts to acquire land to create a publicly-owned open-air amusement park, based on an extensive economic study by real estate advisory firm RCLCo commissioned by MAS that concluded that this was the best way to ensure amusements in perpetuity. Continue Reading>>

The Once and Future New York Tomorrow Night at MAS

Join author Randall Mason tomorrow night at MAS for the launch of his new book The Once and Future New York and a discussion of the emergence of historic preservation in New York urbanism. In the popular imagination, the controversial 1963 demolition of Pennsylvania Station gave birth to New York City’s historic preservation movement, but, as the author reveals, historic preservation has been a persistent force in the development of New York since the 1890s, when the city’s leading politicians, planners, and architects first recognized the need to preserve the rapidly evolving city’s past. Rich with archival research, The Once and Future New York documents the emergence of historic preservation in New York at the turn of the twentieth century. The Once and Future New York Tuesday, June 9, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. $15, $10 MAS members. Purchase tickets online or call 212-935-2075. Sponsored by Urban Center Books, the MAS bookstore.