926 Madison Avenue
Upper East Side Historic District
A Modern style brick apartment building built in 1945-47 and designed by Sylvan Bien.
CB8 Hearing: 11/16/15 (Approved)
LPC Hearing: 11/24/15 (No Action)
LPC Meeting: 12/08/15 (Approved)
Application is to modify the design of previously approved storefront infill.
LPC Meeting: 05/24/16 (Approved)
This proposal introduces a modernist aesthetic to this set of storefronts in the historic district. FRIENDS’ Preservation Committee finds the design to be inappropriate, with a very long unrelieved 60 foot expanse of glass and no vertical elements. Although it is a modern style building, since designation the storefront configuration has replicated the characteristic rhythm of individual small shops along Madison Avenue, which this proposal would obscure. The black and white banding above the storefront adds to this unwelcome horizontality, and is awkwardly proportioned, with the white limestone overwhelming the very narrow band of black.
In our previous testimony for this project last November, FRIENDS found the proposed design to be inappropriate, as it would introduce a long, horizontal expanse of glass with no vertical elements. Historically, Madison Avenue has consisted of a rhythm of individual small shops, and this large swath of uninterrupted glazing would be uncharacteristic for the streetscape. The modified design still does not incorporate any exterior vertical elements, and the proposed black-colored piers on the interior of the store do not successfully convey the language of individual storefronts.
The black steel band atop the window - while evoking the building’s original appearance - is heavy and awkward. Originally, a strip of limestone separated the black band from the tops of the windows, and this proposal would benefit from a similar design. The limestone and windows on the corner of the building are beveled, not only on the ground floor but all the way up the height of the facade. The designation report specifically mentions these angular corners, thus they are a significant part of this building’s Modern style design. The proposed curved windows are incongruous with the building’s design, and should retain a beveled surface. While FRIENDS appreciates the proposed recessed entrance, as it references other historic entries along Madison Avenue, the overall design is inappropriate to the building and its context within the Upper East Side Historic District.