Buried deep within the confines of today's Landmarks Preservation Commission agenda is an item dealing with a not-so-minor adjustment to a Flatiron District building. At the century-old 28 West 20th Street (also known as 33 West 19th Street) tucked safely in the protected Ladies' Mile Historic District, there's an application to add a rooftop addition, and based on the image provided by the Historic Districts Council it looks like the new construction would just about double the loft building's height. Not much can be deciphered from the grainy visual aid, but the name floating around on permits is architect Morris Adjmi, who typically knows how to class up a joint. Even so, the HDC is not amused.
In prepared testimony on the neo-Renaissance building and its plain neo addition (the application is slated to be heard by the commissioners this afternoon) the HDC says:
HDC is strongly opposed to this application that boils down to constructing another building on top of this landmark. 33 West 19th Street is not a base, it is a completed structure with a fully planned and realized design. Part of the charm of the Ladies’ Mile Historic District is its varied heights, and this can only be retained only by preserving the area’s smaller structures. As the designation report points out, this 6-story store and loft form is "characteristic of the later development phase of this district." This character should be preserved, not smothered in an addition nearly equal in size. HDC is troubled by the continuing trend of looking at our city’s smaller structures as bases for larger ones, of preying on them rather than appreciating them for what they are. Approving this application would make a mockery of the Commission’s decades of work to keep rooftop additions minimally visible and would signal to other developers that the sky’s limit even in historic districts.
Your move, LPC.
· Landmarks Preservation Commission Agenda - July 21 [LPC; warning: PDF]
· Historic Districts Council [hdc.org]