5‐7 East 62nd Street
Upper East Side Historic District
A Modern style synagogue building designed by Percival Goodman and built in 1956. Application is to alter the façade, replace entry infill, and install a canopy.
CB8 Hearing: 10/19/20 (Approved)
LPC Hearing: 10/27/20 (No Action)
LPC Meeting: 11/10/20 (Approved with modifications)
Other projects: June 23, 2020
FRIENDS is deeply concerned with the applicant’s piecemeal approach towards this Modern landmark. Architect Percival Goodman is considered a leading theorist of Modern synagogue design, and we would have liked to see the proposed alterations to his Fifth Avenue Synagogue in its entirety, in order to better understand the cumulative impact that the alterations will have on the building.
We do not oppose the entry infill replacement with the two new glass doors, and acknowledge that they do create a more welcoming entrance for the synagogue. However, we believe that the proposal also weakens the simplicity and solidity of the base, which could be ameliorated if the entrance framework was slimmer and less brassy.
While we agree that the proposed marquee is an improvement if compared to the existing canopy, FRIENDS Preservation Committee strongly opposes this aspect of the application. The focal point of this building is an uninterrupted curtain wall, with a regular rhythm of perforations for the stained-glass windows. The proposed marquee visually – and physically – cuts into the curtain wall, disrupting the original harmony and rhythm of the synagogue, and the physical perforations will permanently damage the concrete, as well as create an opportunity for water infiltration, further harming the facade. The ornate stained-glass windows, once lit up at night, function almost like an art installation, one that will be completely disrupted by the illuminated marquee if approved.
FRIENDS urges the applicant to work with the Commission and come back with a proposal that doesn’t severely alter the modern design intended by Goodman.
We remain diligent about the applicant’s piecemeal approach towards this building. Architect Percival Goodman is considered a leading theorist of Modern synagogue design, and we would have liked to see the proposed alterations to his Fifth Avenue Synagogue in its entirety, in order to better understand the cumulative impact that the alterations will have on the building.
FRIENDS Preservation Committee commends the applicant for listening to the communities and the Commissioners concerns and altering the proposal for Fifth Avenue Synagogue entrance. The updated marquee represents a vast improvement from the previous proposal and succeeds in preserving the integrity of the iconic Goodman’s facade.
We are mindful, however, about the structural placement of the proposed canopy hanging from underside the iconic facade. While we’re not aware about the specifics of how the concrete curtain wall attaches to the structural wall, we wonder how the weight of the canopy hanging from it could wear over time. We hope that the applicant works with staff to fine-tune the proposal to ensure a design solution that will age well with the building over time.