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Reflective topper on Willem de Kooning’s former Union Square home finally clears LPC

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The conversion of these landmarked buildings into offices can now officially move forward

Via DXA Studio

After two failed attempts, a reflective glass topper on Willem de Kooning’s landmarked, former Union Square home received the nod of approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, on Tuesday.

Following the landmarking of the buildings at 827-831 Broadway last October, the new owners of the site proposed a four-story glass addition atop the twin cast-iron buildings designed by DXA Studio. The Landmarks Commission first rejected the proposal in January saying it was too overwhelming, and then rejected another version of the proposal in April for being out of sync with the historic buildings.

The third try finally seemed to pay off for the architecture firm with the Commission unanimously praising the efforts of the architects. The glass addition has now been reduced to three stories and has a 36-foot setback from the street level, making it a lot less visible from the street level than in previous iterations.

“It’s a marvel to take all that information and create something that is sensitive and elegant,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of the Landmarks Commission, shortly before the Commission voted to approve the structure.

Preservation groups however weren’t too thrilled with this latest version either. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the organization that was instrumental in getting de Kooning’s former home declared a landmark, questioned the rear addition to the overall project. A property at 47 East 12th Street is also part of the overall development, and in this latest iteration DXA Studio has proposed a seven-story addition to the building, which in the latest renderings can be seen peeking out behind the cast-iron buildings.

The Landmarks Commission declined to include the existing structure at the site as part of the landmarks designation even though it was built in conjunction with 827-831 Broadway.

“The 7-story addition to the 12th Street building is incredibly visible and visually intrusive in relation to the landmarked buildings,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of GVSHP, in a letter addressed to Srinivasan.

The Commission didn’t take issue with the addition, only the silvery material used on the exterior. The Commission encouraged the architects to use a darker matte finish instead. With the approval, the planned conversion of these buildings into offices (led by Quality Capital and Caerus Group) can now officially move forward.

The outdoor garden in front of the rooftop addition.