Photos by Vanessa DeGarcia, courtesy of The Corcoran Group
If there’s one building that has come to represent the preservation movement in Gowanus, it very well might be the Coignet Stone Building. Built in 1873 as a showroom and physical advertisement for Francois Coignet’s concrete construction company, it was the first documented concrete building in the city. Whole Foods purchased the property in 2005 and built its new supermarket next door, and the following year, the Coignet Buiding was landmarked. After years of neglect, Whole Foods completed a $1.3 million restoration in 2016, listing the property shortly thereafter for $6 million. It’s now back for a hair more, and though a gut interior renovation is definitely required, it’s being sold as a residential townhouse that has incredible potential.
At Monday’s MCNY symposium “Redefining Preservation for the 21st Century,” starchitect Robert A.M. Stern lamented about 2 Columbus Circle and its renovation that rendered it completely unrecognizable. What Stern saw as a modernist architectural wonder, notable for its esthetics, cultural importance (it was built to challenge MoMA and the prevailing architectural style at the time), and history (the building originally served as a museum for the art collection of Huntington Hartford), others saw as a hulking grey slab. Despite the efforts of Stern and others to have the building landmarked, it was ultimately altered completely.
This story is not unique; there are plenty of worthy historic buildings in New York City that have been heavily changed, let to fall into disrepair, or altogether demolished. And in many of these cases, the general public realized their significance only after they were destroyed. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the NYC landmarks law, we’ve rounded up some of the most cringe-worthy crimes committed against architecture.
Check out our list right here
- Someone is building a luxury residential building next to the AirTrain station. The Crossing, as it’s called, will host 580 units with roof terraces and a 24-hour doorman among other amenities. [DNA Info]
- “No Picket Fence”. New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s are increasingly looking for appealing rentals as opposed to buying, and developers are responding. [NYT]
- Extell will pay $24.7 million to the Park Avenue Christian Church for their air rights in order to bring a new residential tower at the site of the church’s parish. [TRD]
- Here’s a colorful plan to turn the Coignet Building neighboring the Gowanus Whole Foods into an opera house. [Curbed]
The Crossing sited along the AirTrain (left); Outdated white picket fence dreams (right)