Straddling Greenwich Village and the East Village, the neighborhood south of Union Square between Fifth and Third Avenues was once a center of groundbreaking commercial innovations, radical leftist politics, and the artistic avant-garde. With the city’s recent decision to allow an upzoning for a “Tech Hub” on the neighborhood’s doorstep on 14th Street, there are concerns that the resilient and architecturally intact neighborhood may face irreversible change. While they’re still here, take a tour of some of the many sites of remarkable cultural history, nestled in this compact neighborhood just south of one of our city’s busiest hubs.
Revised rendering via DXA Studio
Last November, the owner of newly-landmarked buildings at 827-831 Broadway, noted for their cast-iron architecture and as the home of artist Willem de Kooning, submitted a proposal for a four-story prismatic glass addition and landscaped roof terrace that architects DXA Studio say was influenced by de Kooning’s work. After sending the plan back to the drawing board twice, the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Monday finally approved the revised design, which reduces the height of the addition to three stories and places it more setback from the street. LPC recommends that DXA use a darker cladding material over 47 East 12th Street to give it a totally matte finish.
Back in November, the developer/owner of a pair of newly-landmarked buildings at 827-831 Broadway–noted for their cast-iron architecture and a rich cultural history that includes serving as home to artist Willem de Kooning—submitted a proposal for a four-story prismatic glass addition and landscaped roof terrace that architects DXA Studio say was influenced by de Kooning’s work. Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission received the proposal with mixed reviews, feeling skeptical about whether or not cultural events should influence a building’s architecture. After hearing testimony from a slew of local residents and preservationists who feel the glass topper is too large, the LPC decided to take no action on the plan, instead sending the team back to the drawing board to better detail the restoration aspects and reconsider the addition as perhaps shorter and further setback.
Just a week after the pair of buildings at 827-831 Broadway was landmarked, not only for their cast-iron architecture but for their long cultural history that most notably includes serving as home to world-famous artist Willem de Kooning, the developer/owner has put forth a proposal for a four-story prismatic glass addition and landscaped roof terrace. Though the architects at DXA Studio say the modern topper’s reflectivity is representative of two phases of de Kooning’s work–his 1960s rural and pastoral landscapes as seen through the reflection of surrounding plantings and his late 1950s urban landscapes through the building reflections–local groups are not so convinced.
827-831 Broadway today via Wiki Commons (L); Willem de Kooning in his Fourth Avenue studio, April 1946. Harry Bowden, photographer. Harry Bowden papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.Via The Willem de Kooning Foundation. (R)
Underneath the lyrical and much-admired sherbet-colored facades of the twin lofts at 827-831 Broadway lies a New York tale like no other. Incorporating snuff, sewing machines, and cigar store Indians; Abstract Expressionists; and the “antique dealer to the stars,” it also involves real estate and big money, and the very real threat of the wrecking ball. Ahead, explore the one-of-a-kind past of these buildings, which most notably served as the home to world-famous artist Willem de Kooning, and learn about the fight to preserve them not only for their architectural merit but unique cultural history.