923 Fifth Avenue
Upper East Side Historic District
An apartment building designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1949-1951. Application is to modify masonry openings; and amend the Master Plan governing the future installation of windows.
CB8 Hearing: 04/16/18 (Disapproved)
LPC Hearing: 04/24/18 (No Action)
LPC Hearing: 05/08/18 (Approved)
Other projects: May 3, 2016
FRIENDS takes no issue with the window alterations occurring within the existing masonry openings on the south and west elevations of 923 Fifth Avenue. Similarly, our Preservation Committee supports the centering of the through-wall PTAC louver beneath the existing tripartite window on the eastern elevation. However, we forcefully oppose the expansion of the dining room window on the eastern façade and urge the Commission to disapprove this portion of the application. These southeastern window openings share the same pattern on each floor, and this new 14 foot wide tripartite window would be the only opening to disrupt that rhythm. Regardless of the level of contribution this building has to the Upper East Side Historic district, such a large removal of fabric is categorically inappropriate on such a highly visible 18th floor location.
FRIENDS’ Preservation Committee feels that this new proposal does not address the concerns brought up by the Commissioners at the April 24th Public Hearing. As stated by Commissioners Devonshire and Vauss, 923 Fifth Avenue is unquestionably of the modern style and, in regards to modern architecture, window design is an essential feature of the visual character and organization of a façade. While this
style is not specifically given in the designation report, Commissioner Devonshire went on to explain that conventions can change after the designation of a district, and aptly stated that it is the job of the commissioners to interpret newly appreciated historic styles as design standards progress.
This new design still disrupts the previously unbroken window pattern on this portion of the façade by expanding beyond the current openings on both sides. We might have been able to support an expansion which preserved the external window line while maintaining a masonry division in between, but this design is unnecessary and disruptive. This proposal goes against the previously approved Master Plan that is intended to regulate the appearance of the building to be in line with Sylvan Bien’s intended fenestration. Approval of this application would be special permission to go against this protective measure of the architect’s intent. It would be senseless to continue the pattern of approving haphazard window expansions on this building while it has now been stated that their impact is significant and insensitive to the original design.