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The Pastis Building's Revised Topper Finally Woos Landmarks

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Previously on the "Adventures of the Landmarks Preservation Commission," a proposal for a two-story glass addition to 9-19 Ninth Avenue, better known as the Pastis building, was rejected—first panned by about a dozen public speakers and then by LPC commissioners, who echoed their position.

Yesterday, over a month later, BKSK Architects returned to the LPC with a modified design for the modern topper that they hoped would win everyone over. They got their wish. BKSK's Harry Kendall told the commissioners, who said the original proposal was too loud and inappropriate for the Meatpacking District, that the firm had "heard [them] loud and clear." The new design uses new materials (beyond hated glass!) to create what he called a "robust metal frame" and reduces the visibility of the façade by seven feet.

BKSK made other significant changes to help the building fit in with the formerly industrial neighborhood. There will also be some Juliet balconies built into the structure behind the outer façade. The base of the building will stay mostly as is. He said the canopies will be a mix of corrugated metal and glass that will echo the "happenstance nature" of the building's evolution. Elise Quasebarth of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners said some of the windows that were replaced in the 1980s will be restored to their original wood.

To say the LPC commissioners were happy with what they saw during their presentation would be a bit of an understatement. Commissioner Frederick Bland said the design team had "done well" and applauded the more visible metal framework. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter said it was "incredible," noted the "amazing materials," and said the new design "maintains the market quality" of the building and the Meatpacking District.

Commissioner Michael Goldblum praised the team for a "better plan" and for taking the time and money to design "bespoke buildings." He said it's still a "look at me" building, but the "subtle" changes made it approvable as it "restores proportion," is more simple, and is "quieter." Commissioner Roberta Washington thought the materials could be more interesting, but still voted for the proposal. LPC chairman Robert Tierney, who steps down from the commission after yesterday's session, said the design is "perfectly fitting," "sensible," and a "superb adjustment." All of the other commissioners agreed and the proposal was approved.

While the commissioners were wowed by the revised proposal, the same cannot be said of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which was "extremely disappointed."

"Once again, the Commission did not allow the public to comment upon or review an amended design before voting to approve. And once more the Commission approved a design in direct contradiction to their own prior recommendations, in which they told the applicant to substantially change the design, and that it was too large (the size of the addition is relatively unchanged)," GVHSP said in a statement. "This speaks to some of the consistent problems with the Landmarks Preservation Commission under the outgoing chair, which at times seemed more concerned with approving applications with a minimum number of hearings rather than holding firm and insisting upon appropriate designs as the criteria for approval by the Commission. We hope the new Chair will be more conscientious in allowing the public to participate in the process, truly fulfilling the mission of the LPC to only approve 'appropriate' designs in historic districts, and at minimum following their own recommendations and directions to applicants when deciding whether or not to approve revised designs."

There was no word on when the restaurant Pastis would re-open, in case readers' stomachs were wondering.
—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.
· Landmarks Rejects Two-Story Glass Topper for Pastis Building [Curbed]
· Board Says Glass Addition 'Makes No Sense' for MePa Building [Curbed]
· All 9-19 Ninth Avenue coverage [Curbed]