The love affair between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Morris Adjmi's twisting addition to 837 Washington Street was finally consummated today when the commissioners granted approval to four new floors rising above the old market building across from the High Line. Over the past nine months, Taconic Investment Partners presented two other versions of the Adjmi design, the first rising to 100' and the second cut back two stories. But the commissioners declared both too tall and twice sent the team back to the drawing board. Now Adjmi has lowered the plan by another eight feet, creating a commercial space rising to 76' over the streets of MePa. The base has been opened up, with wider bays for windows and doors. The big diagonal columns now run all the way through the building from top to bottom, giving an added jolt of energy to the site, and will be visible to passers-by. The awnings above both Washington and West 13th Streets will be refurbished, and old meat racks, where sides of beef used to swing above the sidewalks, will be restored.
This time around the commissioners at Landmarks applauded the good design. They noted that the plan as presented showed a "beautiful evolution" with a great use of materials. They appreciated the nod towards the industrial history of the neighborhood that compliments the horizontal emphasis of the 1938 moderne styled box of bricks. Some commissioners showed concern that, by allowing the addition of four new stories to the existing two, their approval would set a precedent and open the floodgates to other nearby owners of low-slung buildings who might want to grow tall. But LPC Chairman Tierney made it clear that the Adjmi design sets "a very high bar" that others will have to meet if they want to get big in MePa. Not to mention the patience needed for repeat visits to the LPC.
· Official website: Morris Adjmi Architects [ma.com]
· 837 Washington Street coverage [Curbed]