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Defender Begs Landmarks Not to Ruin Four Seasons Restaurant

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Aby Rosen's proposal to recraft the interiors of Philip Johnson's Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building will be heard in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. Ahead of the meeting, Phyllis Lambert, daughter of Seagram founder Samuel Bronfman who herself spearheaded the design effort behind the iconic Mies Van Der Rohe building, has voiced her opinion of the proposed renovation, and it's exactly what one might expect. "If the changes are approved at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Tuesday, they would do more than ruin a hallmark of modern architecture," Lambert pens in her New York Times op-ed column, "They would undermine the meaning of landmark preservation in America."

Lambert goes on to criticize the proposal as being in poor taste, but more than that a challenge to the autonomy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Rosen's RFR Realty is proposing to convert a wine cellar into a powder room, undo a 1983 alteration by Johnson himself that saw a row of low planters replaced by a glass and bronze partition, and enlarge a coat room at the expense of "ruining the exacting proportions of the lobby." While the changes seem small, Lambert says they will all dramatically affect the "symphony" of the restaurant's interiors. Here's Lambert's closing zinger,

It is up to the commission to decide whether the changes violate the Four Seasons' landmark status. But they are so severe, and the expert consensus is so strongly against them, that it verges on dereliction of duty to decide in RFR's favor. If, at its meeting on Tuesday, the commission buckles under and approves RFR's plan, it will admit that the wishes of a wealthy developer are more important than the culture of the city. · Save New York's Four Seasons [NYT]
· Revisit the Rise of Mies van der Rohe's Iconic Seagram Building [Curbed]
· All Four Seasons coverage [Curbed]