[Crowd shot, and a guy holding up signs that no one could read.]
GREENWICH VILLAGE?The marathon Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing regarding the ultracontroversial St. Vincent's/Rudin Management plan is probably still going on, but we had a Curbed informant planted in the seats at 199 Chambers Street for the early stages of the throwdown. Here's the report:
Today's LPC hearing took a temporary leave of its modest meeting room in the Municipal Building for an arena with enough space for all the Greenwich Village curmudgeons to take to the microphone and shake their shaking sticks at the proposed St. Vincent's Hospital/Rudin development. A full day was set aside for the event, and most of the early time was dedicated to lessons in architectural and medical building history along with a few heartfelt pleas from some people with personal ties to the hospital, including the chairman, Al Smith, who asked that a building named for his grandfather be destroyed, and a nun who spoke on behalf of St. Vincent's founders, the Sisters of Charity. One historical landmarks consultant, an architectural historian, an architectural consultant, a chief medical officer, and a president and CEO of St. Vincent's Hospital later, and we finally get to the proposed designs. First up was the proposal for the new hospital, which is the least controversial of the plans, at least based on the tepidly-positive response from the represented elected officials. After running through several potential building shapes in all manner of squares and rectangles and combinations thereof, the architect revealed their plan: a massive, curved, boat-shaped 320-foot tall tower set atop a landscaped podium base, whose prow pointed in the direction of the mishmash of Greenwich Village's street grid. This practically flew under the radar in light of the final presentation, the proposed residential designs from Rudin's guy for the current hospital site. The proposal includes some nondescript townhouses (delightfully referred to as "confetti mix" for the multicolored 11th Street set), a mid-block "transitional" building, and finally a hulking "bookmark" condo building at 7th Avenue, which the architect referred to with various different wedding cake metaphors and which elicited actual gasps of horror from the assembled Villagers. Responses from the politicians were predictable, as they gamely conceded that the West Side should probably have a decent hospital (though if CB2 and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has it's way, it won't take the place of the O'Toole Building), but the pummeling was swift and hard from all sides when it came to the proposed residential designs. The speakers from the stands tried to steer the conversation back to the business of preservation, and many asked that each individual building get its chance to be saved without factoring in potential replacement buildings, regardless of if the boat-shape or wedding-cakeyness would be an improvement. But that's not to say they didn't get their shots in at the new designs. The architect could only sit there, stone-faced in his corner, as his generic condo proposal was repeatedly likened to Trump Riverview and?now the crowd was finally laughing?Battery Park City.
Yikes, what did poor defenseless BPC ever do to you, Village curmudgeons? Anyway, more St. Vincent's analysis as the week goes on, obvs.
· The War Over Greenwich Village Begins Today [Curbed]
· Curbed's St. Vincent's coverage [Curbed]