A new building will probably go up on the vacant lot at the corner of Congress and Court Streets (and the end of Bergen Street) in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. But it won’t be the design presented to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. They asked the applicant to tweak the proposal for 178 Court Street.
The proposal was for a two-story, commercial building for one or two retail tenants. The building would have been red brick (and possibly still will be) with signboards and a painted steel cornice. The roof would have been 30 feet up while the bulkhead (which contains the stairs and elevator overrun) would reach 39 feet. The project was presented by Sherida Paulsen of PKSB Architects along with project architect Robert Bianco. Paulsen said she saw this as a “transitional building” between the church and the other buildings.
The commissioners had no objection to a building on the vacant lot, but weren’t sold on this design. Commissioner Diana Chapin said she was “uncomfortable with the approach,” which she saw as having windows too big for a residential purpose, but a design too plain for a commercial purpose. Commissioner John Gustafsson echoed that, saying it was “neither fish nor fowl.” Commissioner Frederick Bland joined them. He said,” It isn’t that it’s bad.” But he wasn’t sold. He commented on the fact that it’s basically a two-story building in a box the size of a three-story building. He asked for “more inventive detailing.” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called for a more established cornice and broken down scale. The architects will work with their client and return to the LPC.
The lone piece of public testimony was actually largely supportive of the proposal. “HDC commends this design for its overall sensitivity of scale and materials,” the Historic Districts Council’s Barbara Zay said. “We do ask, though, that since the storefront will be considerably taller than those of its Court Street neighbors, the signage be incorporated into the glass transom, rather than on an additional sign band above.”
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