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Willem de Kooning’s former Union Square home could get reflective topper

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The twin cast-iron buildings at 827-831 Broadway were landmarked this fall

Renderings courtesy DXA Studio

A unique rooftop addition has been proposed for the twin Civil War-era cast-iron buildings at 827-831 Broadway, the former studio to artists Willem and Elaine de Kooning. This fall, the structures were landmarked for both their architectural and cultural history.

Alongside the De Koonings, the buildings served as studio space for Paul Jenkins, and was also home to MoMA curator William Rubin, whose loft was designed by Richard Meier and adorned in work by artists of the New York School.

In the 1860s, tobacco scion Pierre Lorillard III asked the architect Griffith Thomas to design the buildings for “retail, office and manufacturing space, a mixed-use building 100 years before the term became a real estate cliché,” according to Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing, Allan Wilson’s company, was one of the first tenants.

The GVSHP spent months campaigning to preserve the buildings after they sold to Quality Capital and Caerus Group last summer for $60 million. According to EV Grieve, "the deal reportedly included 30,000 square feet of air rights, which would be put to use for a 14-floor office building."

Though the LPC rejected this proposal last year, the agency changed its mind this year and unanimously approved to landmark it in October. So the owners, no longer allowed to demolish the buildings, have had to get creative. EV Grieve has outlined their plan "to construct a multiple story setback addition on the roof."

This isn't just any setback, however. The reflective facade used for the structure is supposed to represent Willem de Kooning's rural and pastoral landscape phase, as well as his urban landscapes. The proposal also includes the addition of a lush roof deck.

DXA Studio is behind the proposal, which you can view here; it'll be presented to Community Board 2's Landmarks Committee next week.

The GVSHP isn't thrilled with it, unsurprisingly. In an email the preservation group stated that the "proposed 4-story addition is overwhelming in comparison to the building, and would nearly double its height." Ultimately, the fate of the addition will be decided by the LPC.

The buildings today
Via Google Maps