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Brownstone Restoration Losing Favor; Design Over Architecture

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1) This week, a family of hunters embarks on the ever challenging quest to find a Manhattan home big enough for all of them. They decide they need a townhouse and that they must relocate from Carnegie Hill, where the cheapest single-family costs $4 million, to South Harlem. They like one place, but realize it's too close to the Metro North station and has a long list of building violations (which the owner declares "absolutely no problem.") A second place looks like it needs too much work. A third, though, has recently been renovated into a pair of duplexes. They snap it up for $1.7 million, and their main worry becomes which kitchen to use. [The Hunt/'When Mother Suggests a Move']

2) While the overall tendency among brownstone townhouse owners and buyers is restoration, many are now going the opposite route and having 19th century brick facades redone in glass and aluminum. This, obviously, makes preservationists very unhappy, but owners and architects claim that it's for the best. "Imitating an architectural vocabulary simply because it's there isn't an appropriate response nowadays," says Raphael Vinoly, who is redesigning 162 East 64th Street with nothing but appropriateness in mind. An architectural historian puts it a different way, saying, "The glass wall or the extension that at first seemed to stick out, may in time fit in." Yeah, that might just be what everybody is afraid of. ['The Brownstone Revisionists']

3) Alexandros Washburn, the Department of City Planning's urban design director, has had a hand in, among other things, the Coney Island plaza, the rezoned West Chelsea, and the upcoming refurbished Moynihan Station as well as the micro-unit project. He's more concerned with spaces than buildings, however, and says that his ultimate goal is to make the city and nature "overlap." ['What Design Brings to the Table']