International corporate clothier H&M is proposing a new facade for its original Soho emporium at 558 Broadway. Make that proposed: The design just got a big thumbs down from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. What H&M wanted was to strip the old bricks from the two-story building and replace the 1920 facade with big panels of glass and "polymerized concrete." At the public hearing to consider the all-new design, the go-to gang for H&M retail, TEK Architects (whose website states their "design philosophy is that there is nothing interesting about the status quo"), came face to face with a slew of citizens, all lining up to pile on the preservationist disdain.
On hand were reps from the Historic Districts Council ("it will obliterate a charming piece of Soho"), the Society for Architecture of the City (calling the new facade nothing more than "an advertisement for H&M") and the Landmarks Committee of Community Board 2 ("we are here to preserve, not to destroy"). Besides slamming the current design, one citizen with a long memory reminded the Commission of the time back in 2005 when H&M covered the iconic Flatiron Building with a huge illegal billboard, and wondered why a company would move into a landmarked district and then plot to plunder the historic fabric and put another of their look-alike facades in its place. The Commission concurred, and unanimously voted to deny the out-of-place polymerization plan. Folks may flock to buy H&M attire, but that doesn't mean they'll take everything that's thrown at them.
· Retail Projects: H&M [TEK Architects]