900 Madison Avenue
Upper East Side Historic District
An apartment building with classical details designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1939. Application is to modify the base of the building and install illuminated signage.
CB8 Hearing: 02/18/21 (Approved)
LPC Hearing: 03/09/21 (No Action)
LPC Meeting: 10/10/21 (Approved with modifications)
The corner of Madison Avenue and East 73rd Street is one of the most diverse on the Upper East Side Historic District. Sylvan Bien’s apartment building adds restrained classical elements to this corner, that also contains a neo-Gothic church, an altered Italianate rowhouse with picturesque Spanish Colonial elements, and a neo-Federal bank building.
While very subtle, the classical details carry throughout the base of building, relating the storefronts on Madison Avenue with the residential entrance on East 73rd Street and with the brick structure above, sporting stylized Greek fret forms, creating one cohesive unit. The proposed design for the corner storefront, while aesthetically pleasing, will obscure most of the details at the base, making the classical style even more difficult to read.
The decision to clad only a part of the base, both on the Madison Avenue and East 73rd Street facades, breaks the continuity of Bien’s style, and the new storefront treatment ends abruptly on both the avenue and side street frontages, creating a jarring transition to the original base. Finally, while FRIENDS Preservation Committee appreciates the reversibility of the proposal, we are concerned about how the limestone-clad plywood will wear with time.
FRIENDS appreciates the applicant’s effort to scale back the proposal and listen to the community and Commissioners comments. While the current proposal is very much improved if compared to the original one, we still believe it interrupts the restrained classical elements designed by Sylvan Bien.
While very subtle, the classical details carry throughout the base of the building, relating the storefronts on Madison Avenue with the residential entrance on East 73rd Street and with the brick structure above, sporting stylized Greek fret forms, creating one cohesive unit. The newly proposed design, while retaining most of the line molding, still conceals the corner and breaks the continuity and correlation between the storefront and residential portions of this facade. Additionally, we believe the proposed treatment of East 73rd Street obscure even more the
We acknowledge, however, that the current proposal addresses previous concerns FRIENDS Preservation Committee had regarding the abrupt end of the storefront treatment, and the transition to the original base is not as jarring as before. Finally, while we continue to appreciate the reversibility of the proposal, we remain concerned about how the limestone-clad plywood will wear with time.