With all the talk about City Council's upcoming vote on NYU's massive expansion plan, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation decided to compare the the school's proposal to that of another university project in the neighborhood: the New School's University Center on Fifth Avenue at 14th Street. Obviously, the two physical projects couldn't be more different, but GVSHP points out that the really telling difference comes in how the institutions worked with the surrounding community.
The New School originally proposed a multi-colored 350-foot tall glassy building that would have risen from the street without setbacks. The community hated it. The New School would have needed to obtain several zoning waivers and variances to be able to take up that much public light and air. After several years of discussions, the New School agreed to changes and unveiled the currently in-construction design. "These were huge changes," write GVSHP. "It not only meant that many (if not all) of the public's concerns were addressed, but it also meant that TNS was no longer asking for special exemptions from zoning rules and light and air preservation requirements, and thus could move ahead with their project 'as of right,' with no public approvals any longer required."
As we all know, the same can not be said for NYU. "NYU is in essence asking for many of the same things as TNS, but on steriods, and with some additionally offensive items thrown in," writes GVSHP. The university is seeking zoning waivers to build on multiple sites spread out over six blocks that are supposed to be preserved for light, air, and open space. This would eliminate an agreement NYU made with the city 50 years ago, and it would add 2.5 million square feet of development and four new buildings to the neighborhood. NYU needs all of these waivers to move forward because under the current regulations, the school would not be allowed to build one single square foot of additional space on their property because their current buildings are already so large compared to the open space around them.
"There is a world of difference between what The New School has done," writes GVSHP, "and what NYU is asking the City Council to allow them do by breaking the rules, breaking agreements with the public, and selling off public land for development."
· The New School vs. NYU ? a Telling Comparison [GVSHP]
· NYU Expansion coverage [Curbed]
· New School University Center coverage [Curbed]