On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved an application to construct a new penthouse atop 45 East 66th Street despite the objection of a very famous residentone Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of Gotham.
The building itself, a city individual landmark (warning: PDF!), was designed by Harde and Short and completed in 1908. The rooftop addition proposal, designed by Jeffrey Cole Architects, was for a less than 1,000-square-foot structure to be placed top of the existing 11th-floor penthouse. It would have space for two dressing rooms, two bathrooms, a master bedroom, possible closet space, and egress. A similar proposal was actually previously approved by the LPC, but expired before it could be constructed. The addition would match its attached building section in color, and barely be visible from most vantage points on the street.
The commissioners asked for some minor clarifications from the design team. But once they got those, chair Meenakshi Srinivasan asked her fellow commissioners if they had anything more to say. It was the end of the day, and nobody seemed like they were going to raise any objections. So, they all looked blankly into space until Commissioner Michael Goldblum called the proposal "totally appropriate" and it was approved. But some members of the public weren't on board. Namely, one Rudy Giuliani.
Brian Morgenstern, an attorney for Giuliani, objected to the plan on his client's behalf. He said the addition would be visible, that a "penthouse on top of a penthouse on top of a penthouse" was too much (in this hyperbolic statement, which was repeated, he added one more penthouse level than actually exists or would exist, by the by), and claimed that previous work on the building caused $1.1. million in damage to Giuliani's apartment. The design team replied that these allegations were, well, basically rubbish, adding that personal disputes should not impact the commission's decision. The commissioners agreed.
Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City also objected to too many penthouses, though she seemed to get the number right. Srinivasan said Community Board 8 also objected to the proposal.
But several people did speak in support of the proposal, including Michael Hall of Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts: "After careful evaluation, we found the proposed addition to be appropriate; mainly because it is so minimally visible from the public way."
—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· All 45 East 66th Street coverage [Curbed]
· All Landmarks Preservation coverage [Curbed]