Redesigned 827-831 Broadway Blocked Again By LPC, Union Square

Revised design for 827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA StudioRevised design for 827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA Studio

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has refused a proposed addition to 827-831 Broadway for the second time, obliging its designers DXA Studio to reimagine their approach once more. The plan would add offices, retail, and community space inside and above two Italianate structures built between 1866 and 1867. The source of the controversy is the addition of four floors on top of the historic buildings. Samson Klugman of Quality Capital and Leo Tsimmer of Caerus Group purchased the pair in 2015 for $60 million. They initially filed permits for a 300-foot-tall commercial tower, but that was stopped when the LPC granted the extant structures landmark status.

827-831 Broadway revised terrace, rendering by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway revised terrace, rendering by DXA Studio

A significant factor to the title was the building’s history with famed artists Elaine de Kooning and Willem de Kooning, who had worked and lived within for some time with their community. The proposal by DXA was an homage to this history, particularly Willem De Kooning’s painting Excavation, a dynamic, choreographic painting. It directly inspired the glassy façade.

 

Nightview of 827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA Studio (right) Excavation, by Willem De Kooning (left)

Nightview of 827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA Studio (right) Excavation, by Willem De Kooning (left)

The bold style contributed to the tension at the latest LPC meeting. Many of the commissioners were uneasy with the style. Architect and Founder Partner of DXA Studio, Jordan Rogove commented on this, telling YIMBY, “This is one of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on because the approach, seeking inspiration from the pioneering artists that resided in the building, is quite subjective. That’s part of why there are so many opinions to be had.”

Inspirations for 827-831 Broadway, by DXA Studio

Inspirations for 827-831 Broadway, by DXA Studio

Regarding the history that transpired within the structure, Rogove added, “That is the whole argument for why we should do something more avant-garde. We’ve all walked by the building a hundred times. But none of us are cognizant of the building’s history. We want to restore the base building and build an addition that draws attention to the building and celebrate it as a vital part of the city’s history.”

827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway from 14th Street revised, rendering by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway from 14th Street (original on top, revised on bottom), rendering by DXA Studio

In response to the opinions of the first meeting, the revised design reduces the prominence of the expanded structure by moving it eight feet further from the street, and lowering the total height by five feet. This does noticeably compromise the original intent for the glass to interact with the street level. It would have been nearly unseeable from below, though still visible from 14th Street. The revision had decreased the height, but still comprises four new floors.

827-831 Broadway, rendering by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway revised, rendering by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway revised (original on top, revised on bottom), rendering by DXA Studio

Preservation of the original structure remains identical, removing paint to expose the original limestone façade. If the stone is not presentable, it will be painted over again with an identical hue. The ground floor will provide space for retail use, a community facility will operate out of the second and third floors, and offices will occupy floors two through eight.

827-831 Broadway revised elevation, by DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway revised elevation, by DXA Studio

It appears that conservation has won this second round, and while Rosgove informed YIMBY that a quorum was not met for approval, the GVSHP has Tweeted that the plans were indeed rejected.

827-831 Broadway in 1899, image from NYPL courtesy DXA Studio

827-831 Broadway in 1899, image from NYPL courtesy DXA Studio

According to Rogove, feedback from the second meeting was not as clear as the first meeting, giving the firm less direction moving forward, though conceivably more freedom as well. That has left room for speculation that a significant re-imagination of the project is possible.

Closeup of proposed facade at 827-831 Broadway, courtesy DXA Studio

Closeup of proposed facade at 827-831 Broadway, courtesy DXA Studio

To give Rogove the last word, “right now, we just came back after the presentation, disappointed but understanding of the perspectives and reservations expressed.  We will evaluate commentary to figure out next steps. We have no sense of timing as of now. The original design was developed over several months. We will work until divine inspiration strikes again.”

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8 Comments on "Redesigned 827-831 Broadway Blocked Again By LPC, Union Square"

  1. That looks great, and it would add to the tax assessments, no? Win win… instead lose lose on this one.

  2. Brilliant design. Visionary and creative interpretation. Educational as well.

    Yet, it appears as if the architect/developer approached this “inside out”, rather than from the outside in. Tell him(from a serious lover of de Kooning(I represent Elaine’s legacy), that he must re-think his process not only for this project, but for all future projects involving art in architecture to recognize the importance of FIRST educating the “Decisioners”(the uneducated decision makers). It is an art in itself. Maybe take them to MOMA or bring MOMA in a video to them, so they can see the incredible crowds of intelligent people, many from their own neighborhood who appreciate this art form. Museums frequently show the juxtaposition of new and old, just as Architectural Digest. Good luck.

  3. I pass this block 2-3 times a week and have always enjoyed those buildings as they are – to me they feel like s little echo of Paris. The monstrous carbuncle proposed as the addition mars a perfectly good looking 19th century building. Like much modern architecture, it only makes itself stand out in order to stand out like a kind of architectural egotism. It’s the sort of “improvement” some future preservation and restoration effort will need to remedy.

  4. I can’t believe the developers are in this situation. This is terrible for them. They purchased based on the ability to build a tower and now are only to get in an 8 story building. Furthermore they are subjected to LPC.

    I feel for you guys!

  5. Joe the plumber | May 5, 2018 at 1:40 am | Reply

    I’m normally OK WITH REMIXES BUT CHEERS TO LPC FOR THIS ONE AS THIS DOESN’T WORK.

  6. These are a pair of 1866 historic, cast iron buildings. Putting this ugly 4-story, broken-glass hat on them does nothing to relate them to the abstract expressionist movement. It makes as much sense as putting a glass penthouse on the Washington Square Arch. Contrary to the YIMBY article, to my knowledge the developers have not agreed to preserve the interior of the building. In fact, if they get the right to build on top of it, they are far more likely to need to destroy all but the street-facing exterior in order to support the broken-glass hat.
    When landmarks are preserved, they should maintain their original appearance. The LPC is specific about window treatments, doors, moldings etc on landmark houses, why would it consider allowing a structure like this that is so visible from the street?

  7. Michael Raab | May 8, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Reply

    The destruction of these wonderful structures, whether in their entirety, or just the interiors, verges on the immoral, if not criminal. The very history of this neighborhood is contained in these buildings, from the people who occupied and created in those spaces, to the limited 4 stories that allow sunlight to penetrate to the streets. These buildings are also the current homes and studios of tenants and artists, who will be displaced by their destruction. For this to happen during an administration that has championed affordable housing is highly dishonest and disappointing.

  8. Paula De Luccia | May 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Reply

    One assumes the owners did their due diligence before they completed the purchase of these buildings.
    There are long term residential tenants occupying several spaces.
    The owners show as little regard for those tenants as they do for the building.
    One owner was quoted in 2016, “I purchased them due to the 10,000 square feet of prime retail space on Broadway 250 feet from the heart of Union Square,” he said. “We feel the residual value of the retail alone is worth the full purchase price.”
    The design by DXA Studio is out of character with the buildings and the neighborhood. Additionally it would also destroy the long term homes of the occupants.

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