The exhibit’s title image © Iwan Baan for the Museum of the City of New York
Last night we attended the Museum of the City of New York‘s symposium, “Redefining Preservation for the 21st Century,” which explored the challenges and the opportunities of the preservation movement today and in the future. The event included such distinguished speakers as New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, starchitect Robert A.M. Stern, preservation guru Roberta Gratz, and president of the Real Estate Board of New York Steven Spinola (needless to say, it was quite the lively discussion), and it kicked off the opening of the museum’s exciting new exhibit “Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks,” which marks the 50th anniversary of the landmarks law in NYC. As part of the symposium we got a first look at the exhibit, which opens to the public today.
Check out Saving Place here
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
Though landmarking has come under fire over the past year, with the Real Estate Board of New York claiming that historic designation limits affordable housing, the City Council is drafting legislation to alter the landmarks law in favor of historic preservation. As Crain’s reports today, “Backers of the legislation say it will bring more clarity to a process that has been criticized for hindering development, but critics say the ‘devil is in the details.'”
Headed up by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and drafted by Councilmen Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, and Daniel Garodnick, the new legislation, among other stipulations, would automatically consider any building older than 50 years for historic designation and make it harder for developers to demolish a property in “landmarking limbo.” This comes just four months after the Landmarks Preservation Commission released a proposal to de-calendar 94 historic sites and two historic districts. The plan was eventually receded, but signaled to many a turn in the city’s policy.
See the full terms of the legislation here
Green-Wood Cemetery via wallyg via photopin cc
Major controversy ensued earlier this week between preservationists and city officials when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) released a proposal to de-calendar 94 historic sites and two historic districts. The plan would have left these locations, including Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, completely unprotected and ripe for alterations or even demolition. Opponents of the plan can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the LPC has withdrawn its controversial proposal.
Many sites on the list have been there for up to 50 years, but LPC Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan assured the public that they would be dealt with sooner rather than later. “We remain committed to making the Landmarks Commission more effective and responsive in its work, and clearing a backlog of items,” she said in a statement.
[Via NY Times]
The currently calendared Pepsi sign in Long Island City via gigi_nyc via photopin cc
Just a month before the year-long celebration of the landmarks law’s 50th anniversary is set to commence, the preservation community was dealt what is perhaps its biggest blow since the demolition of Penn Station. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission revealed in its public review meeting last Wednesday that it would de-calendar 95 historic sites and two historic districts throughout the five boroughs, removing the historic buildings and spaces from the landmarking to-do list and leaving them completely unprotected.
Proponents of the plan argue that many places on the list have been there for 50 years, and their removal would free up the LPC’s backlog. Preservationists dismiss this claim, citing that the fact that the historic sites have sat unlandmarked for so long is all the more reason this out-of-nowhere proposal is bad public policy. Some of the more high-profile locations under consideration include Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
More on the de-calendaring and what it means
It’s not always as easy as one might think to successfully advocate for the landmark designation of an historic building in New York, especially when that building’s owner is not on board with preservation efforts.
According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), more than 20 historically significant buildings (including those designed by renowned architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Morris Lapidus) have been heavily altered or altogether demolished over the past 12 years after city officials gave word to owners that their buildings were under consideration for landmarking. This comes from a new report that GVSHP commissioned, which examines the Bloomberg administration’s actions regarding the notification given to developers and owners that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was looking at their properties, allowing alteration and demolition permits to slip through before any historic protections were granted.
We take a closer look at this preservation predicament