The elite all-girls Spence School spent $27.5 million on the Wanamaker Munn House at 17 East 90th Street, and now it wants to connect the old landmark to its main facilities on 91st Street by building a glass atrium. One problem: The school's neighbors don't take kindly to change. "Glass is not a friendly neighbor," Carnegie Hill Neighbors president Lo van der Valk told Crain's, presumably while sipping cognac and polishing his monocle. We're guessing denying students shelter from the elements as they pass between the buildings would also make for an unfriendly neighbor, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission has already approved the atrium. Still, the battle is not over.
Because the proposed connector is larger than local zoning allows, Spence must now take its case for a variance to the Board of Standards and Appeals. The co-op owners at 21 East 90th Street have hired a law firm to push for a "a more modest proposal that that allow Spence to be able to meet its goals without penalizing its neighbors," according to an attorney. However, the BSA would grant a variance to build a Taj Mahal on top of a West Village carriage house, so we don't expect Spence to come up short. Here's a look at the atrium and other proposed changes:
· Spence School's neighbors oppose planned atrium [Crain's]