Tonight, NYU officials will go before Community Board 2 members and try out a test run of the proposal for the first major piece of the school's expansion plans, a 40-story, 400' tower within architect I.M. Pei's Silver Towers complex. But there was also a good show yesterday, as a large group of neighbors, organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, rallied (again!) at Silver Towers to bash NYU, sign petitions and show off their homemade placards. The tower, which would be the tallest in Greenwich Village (here's an animation), is slated to hold both faculty housing and a hotel. It would encroach on a landmarked site that houses a trio of brutalist towers designed by Pei. Back in 2008, NYU supported protecting the site, so what's the Purple People Eaters' story now?
The Landmarks Preservation Commission's 2008 designation report (warning: PDF) praises the "innovative modernist ideas" of the Pei design and notes that "each structure seems independent and was deliberately positioned in an asymmetrical manner" around the open space of the super block. Pei, speaking of the complex, noted that, "A city, so far from being a cluster of buildings, is actually a sequence of spaces enclosed and defined by buildings. This may sound strange but it is the essence of urban design." Yet now, NYU has declared Pei's work unfinished. They claim what it needs is a fourth tower to fully complete the master's work, so they've turned to Grimshaw Arcthitects to take up the task.
There are many bureaucratic hoops to jump through, both at Landmarks and City Planning, but the NYU crew is a patient bunch. Notice they've given their big expansion plan the title "NYU 2031." They're in it for the long haul, which is probably necessary, because the Jane Jacobs Brigade doesn't give up easily, unless it's to Father Time.
· NYU Expansion coverage [Curbed]