1010 Park Avenue
Merrill & Homgren
Demolish the building and construct a new building
Park Avenue Historic District
An annex to a Gothic Revival style church designed by Merrill & Homgren and built in 1960. Application is to demolish the building and construct a new building.
CB8 Hearing: 10/6/14 (Disapproved)
LPC Hearing: 10/21/14 (Laid Over); 12/02/14 (No Action); 01/13/15 (Approved w/modifications)
FRIENDS Testimony (10/21/14):
FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts was proud to be a part of a coalition of organizations who came together to advocate for the designation of the Park Avenue Historic District. Unfortunately, the Park Avenue Christian Church was left vulnerable by declaring the Parish House as having “No Style” in the designation report. FRIENDS has respectfully requested that the Landmarks Preservation Commission re-evaluate the designation and amend it with the appropriate style of Gothic Revival.
The Park Avenue Christian Church and Parish House together form a monumental complex. The relationship between the buildings is an important part of the history of the site, and although part of the Parish House was re-built in the 1960s the arrangement and detailing continue to be important. A designation of “No Style” not only ignores the remaining 1910 southern rectory façade with its two-storey oriel window, but denies that the 1960s changes were completed in the Gothic Revival style as described in the designation report. The Park Avenue Christian Church and Parish House are both detailed with coarse granite fieldstone and limestone trim, forming a unified campus that would be seriously diminished through the dramatic alteration of one or the other.
It is the position at FRIENDS that both the Park Avenue Christian Church and Parish House should be designated in the “Gothic Revival” style and that both buildings are important to the Park Avenue Historic District.
As for the proposal at hand, the project team has neglected to incorporate this historic and architecturally-significant Parish House into their design. When the Parish House was altered in 1963, Merrill & Homgren made a concerted effort to push back the addition and essentially replicate the historic façade. We urge this current team to follow suit and work with the existing historic conditions, rather than demolish any original fabric.
The proposed new building at 1010 Park Avenue is not appropriate or sensitive to the surrounding context of the Park Avenue Historic District, nor is it respectful of, or deferential to, the Park Avenue Christian Church. First, the 16-story design is too angular and vertical in style, with an aggressively conspicuous crown evoking an Art Deco office tower, rather than the Revivalist-style residential buildings that are its neighbors. Within the district, there is only one building (944 Park Avenue) listed as Art Deco in style. Among the 64 buildings in the district, 48 are listed as Revivalist in style – mostly Renaissance Revival, but also Colonial Revival, Medieval Revival, and Gothic Revival, amongst others.
The contemporary character of the building, with large windows, limestone panels, and a curtain wall, stands in stark contrast to its neighbors. Although the applicants have stated that the fenestration is meant to relate to its neighbor, a 1915 Gothic Revival Emery Roth building with punched openings, the proposed windows are much too large, disrupting the rhythm of the streetscape. Furthermore, the amount of glazing on the northern and western facades is grossly inappropriate for a secondary elevation.
In sum, this new proposal is better suited for commercial Midtown, than residential Park Avenue. The Preservation Committee at FRIENDS urges the Community Board to deny the application.
FRIENDS Testimony (01/13/15):
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to comment on this project for a second time. FRIENDS would like to reiterate our position that the “No-Style” assignation of the Park Avenue Christian Church Parish House in the designation report is incorrect. Furthermore, any proposal for this site should incorporate the existing building into its design. We urge the applicant to work with the historic fabric, rather than recreating a mere semblance of what was there.
In our previous statement, we emphasized the importance of a new building being deferential to the Park Avenue Christian Church and appropriate to the larger Park Avenue Historic District. Our position remains the same. The recess at the northern wall should be increased to reveal more of the church facade. Meanwhile, the upper stories at the setback above the cornice line should be entirely removed.
And finally, we continue to question the fenestration of this residential apartment building. The windows should be no larger than those at neighboring 1000 Park Avenue. The glazing should be minimized on the northern and western facades, as appropriate for a secondary elevation.
The Preservation Committee at FRIENDS requests that the LPC continue to pursue an improved design for this important, precedent-setting application.