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Steely Damn! High Line's Newest Neighbor Unveiled to Critics

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The new plan for a glass-and-steel-skinned commercial building at 837 Washington Street, opposite the Standard Hotel, has been unveiled?and it's like nothing seen nearby. This is one of the old Meatpacking District warehouses bought by late designer and party planner Robert Isabell, whose lenders took over and filed plans to "enlarge" the building last summer. Community Board 2's Landmarks Committee got a look at the design from architect Morris Adjmi?no stranger to the blocks of the Meatpacking District, where he has built no fewer than three contextual office buildings?and the intrepid team from the GVSHP filed a render-filled report, some of which we grabbed for your viewing pleasure in the gallery above. The voyeur-friendly Standard Hotel is already getting new neighbors in the High Line Building (also designed by Adjmi) and the equally glassy 860 Washington Street, but is 837 Washington the best of the bunch?

For this prime site, Adjmi proposes a skeleton of riveted beams and girders rising over the existing building to a height of 100' and echoing the old steel of the High Line across Washington Street to the west. Adjmi leans it back, away from the streetwall, a la the skewed glass of Frank Gehry's IAC Building a few blocks north. Although the crew at CB2 liked the creativity of Adjmi's design, the committee members found it too tall and are recommending that the Landmarks Preservation Commission deny approval for the plan when it goes before the commissioners next week.

What would be seen up close, particularly from positions along the High Line and inside the rooms at the Standard, are a sequence of balconies and metal-framed glass set within dark gray steel. The seven added stories show an oblique series of sloping setbacks facing the High Line and overlooking the Gansevoort Market Historic District, but present a blocky brick trunk containing staircases where the lot lines meet at mid-block. Sight line studies show that the new building will be barely visible from points just a block away, but apparently some folks aren't yet convinced.

Planter boxes ring the new building at each floor, softening the hard lines and offering an homage to a plan that Robert Isabell hoped to build after he bought the 1938 market building for $45 million back in 2008. When the High Line opened in June of 2009, Isabell saw to it that the old metal canopies ringing the base of his building were planted with a profusion of flowers, offering park-goers a colorful vista across Washington Street. The developers now want 50,000+ square feet of high-end office space. Will they get it?
· Ultra-Hip Standard Hotel Getting Surrounded by Cubicles [Curbed]
· 837-843 Washington Street [GVSHP]

837 Washington Street

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