The Landmarks Preservation Commission is on board with the rooftop addition proposed for 555 West End Avenue, the former Catholic school at the corner of West 87th Street that developer and architect Cary Tamarkin is working to convert into an apartment building. This is the second time Tamarkin came to the commission; for the first go around, commissioners applauded the historic renovation planned for the facade, but they were less than thrilled with a proposal for a 10-foot penthouse addition with 17 feet of mechanicals. They sent Tamarkin pack to the drawing board to lessen the rooftop bulk, and his new proposal earned an approval from the commission.
Tamarkin's new plan removed the mechanicals from the bulkhead and placed them down in the courtyard. They will be covered up with a material that blends in with the rest of the outdoor space. The 10-foot penthouse was also slightly reduced to a height of 9 feet and 6 inches. With the mechanicals gone, the rooftop addition is now much less visible from the north and east ends of the site.
Landmarks Chair Meenakshi Shrinivasan noted that the main problem was the visibility of the rooftop addition, and stated that "the current proposal is responsive to that issue." She still felt, however, that the floor-to-ceiling height of the penthouse could be reduced further. In the end, the commission approved the new proposal with a minor modification in regards to the penthouse height. That height issue will be dealt with on a staff level, so there won't be another proposal coming forward to the full commission. Tamarkin has invested heavily in this project, forking over $50 million to the Archdiocese of New York in late 2014, so our guess is he'd like to give up as little height as possible.
The rest of the renovation, which secured the support of the commission at the previous meeting, includes adding an ADA-accessible entrance to 87th Street, converting a former gym and library into a lobby, extending and creating new symmetrical window openings in the building's rear and reappointing the building's historic details.