New plans have been filed for the Berg + Flynn-designed high-rise at 301 West 46th Street, which has been downsized to 29 stories. The project has lost its residential component—formerly consisting of 35 condos—and will now be entirely hotel, with a total of 146 rooms. One of the building’s plots is already vacant, so excavation can begin right away, but no date for completion has been released.
There’s a new close-up of the base—the only image with real detail—but it’s enough to say the building possesses little in common with its pre-war surroundings; i.e., it is completely lacking in character. Hell’s Kitchen should not be immune to development, especially with its prime location between Midtown and the riverfront, but new construction should definitely take the historic context of the neighborhood into consideration.
Preserving tenement facades at the base of buildings would be a good start, as the brick simply needs a good cleaning to look brand-new, and is far superior to most modern metal and glass counterparts. On that note, concern over ‘historic interiors’ is mostly unwarranted; the guts of most historic buildings are useless because they were not built with things like central air or WiFi in mind, and are often unstable and riddled with pests.
Despite oft-nasty insides, preserving the facades of these structures is not difficult, and even the outsides of larger structures can be adapted into bases for modern towers—Hearst Tower is the best example. New York can’t force developers to construct buildings with character, but if bland, aseptic towers continue to be the norm, it would be wise of the city to revise zoning codes to ensure the flavor of old New York remains.