Sometimes less is indeed more, as fashion retailer H&M discovered when reps went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission recently to seek approval for a facade facelift at 558 Broadway in Soho. Following the unraveling of the initial proposal presented in May, the creative crew at TEK Architects came back with a much more restrained design. The folks at the Historic Districts Council, who totally trashed the first TEK design, were hoping for some additional revisions, noting that the latest scheme is somewhat schizophrenic: "While this proposal is not nearly as offensive as that [first] one was, it still is not taking the building in the right direction ... the ground floor storefront does not seem to know what is going on upstairs, let alone reflecting it." But the more minimal proposal pleased the commissioners, who voted to approve the revised plan.
The winning TEK plan is to retain and restore the existing 1920s brick facade on the upper floor and to focus instead on the street level storefront, opting for a framework of more contextual I-beams, thin and white, surrounding wide expanses of glass. This saves H&M from performing needed structural work, as proposed in the original plan, which would have resulted in the removal of two columns. Those supports will remain, visible through the windows and flanking the entryway, a move that will no doubt reduce the price of the facelift. Cost savings are in keeping with the H&M philosophy, and here we have a cheaper building solution where form and function meet in the middle. Lovers of Lanvin, and fans of schizoid collaborations, will soon find low-end luxury just inside.
· Soho H&M's Facade Proposal Falls Apart Like a $20 Sweater [Curbed]
· 558 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District [HDC@LPC]