Morris Adjmi-Designed Ladies Mile Project Clears Hurdle At Landmarks

Big changes are in store for a lot fronting West 18th Street and West 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flatiron District. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the restoration of existing buildings at 40-42 West 18th Street and 45 West 17th Street, as well as plans to construct a new through-block building at 38 West 18th Street and 41-43 West 17th Street. This is the Ladies Mile Historic District, hence the LPC involvement.

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The project was first presented by architect Morris Adjmi back in September, but failed to pass muster with the commission. The changes made for this presentation did the trick.

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The last time around, the 18th Street building was concrete. This time, it was buff brick. Last time, the 17th Street building was 18 stories tall. This time, it was 16 stories tall. That’s a reduction of 19 feet and it’s now eight feet shorter than the adjacent building.

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The new building will be a mix of commercial and residential, and in the middle would be a three-story central area. Unchanged from last time is the unique facade designed for the 17th street side of the building. As Curbed NY reported at the time, it will “use an interesting combination of a standard building box followed by a layer for the windows, another layer for a metal frame, and then a metal mesh that would simulate brickwork.”

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Commissioner Michael Devonshire was concerned about the flow of rain off of the 17th Street side. Adjmi said a slight pitch would handle that.

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LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that she liked the lower height and said the use of materials “fit in quite well,” saying those for 17th Street component were “innovative” and “clever.” She said the design “recalls the character of the neighborhood.” Commissioner Frederick Bland said the lowering of the height was “appropriate” and called the designs “contextual” and “extraordinary.” Devonshire used the word “wonderful.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum said that the design for 18th Street is a “total home run.” He said the 17th Street design will probably be a maintenance nightmare and wondered how it would be kept clean. There was no answer, but that didn’t stop him from voting to support the project.

The project was supported by every commissioner present except Adi Shamir-Baron, who said the design for 17th Street didn’t get to that “next level.” She added that she likes to touch buildings as she walks down the street and that she wouldn’t want to touch this one.

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While the project has the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, it still needs an okay from the Bureau of Standards and Appeals. That’s for the central area and to deal with setback requirements.

Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.

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Posted in 38 West 18th Street | 40-42 West 18th Street | 41-43 West 17th Street | 45 West 17th Street