Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana
Click on the links below to learn more about past advocacy campaigns:
The Campaign to Preserve 2 Columbus Circle
This webpage was updated until late 2005, when 2 Columbus Circle was destroyed. A more complete chronology of advocacy efforts to save 2 Columbus Circle is now available through the New York Preservation Archive Project (www.nypap.org/2CC).
Since 1995, preservationists have been urging the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to hold a public hearing to consider designating 2 Columbus Circle as an official NYC Landmark. The LPC’s refusal to schedule a hearing deprives New Yorkers of the opportunity to express their views – for or against – saving Edward Durell Stone’s 1964 icon of mid-century Modernism.
Dean of the Yale School of Architecture Robert A.M. Stern and former Landmarks Commissioner Anthony M. Tung have offered two, differing opinions on the importance of having a public hearing on 2 Columbus Circle. Author Tom Wolfe speculated in two consecutive full-page New York Times Op-Ed pieces on why such a hearing has not taken place, despite ten years of increasing public pressure.
For more information about the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), the cultural institution that seeks to dramatically alter the facade of 2 Columbus Circle, go to www.madmuseum.org.
Click the toggles to see the 2 Columbus Circle Advocacy Efforts:
November 14, 2005
The NY City Council’s Landmarks Subcommittee held a public hearing on Intro. 705, the “Landmarks Hearing” bill, legislation that responds to outcry from communities in all five boroughs who have lost, or may lose, buildings due to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC’s) failure to hold public designation hearings. (See August 17, 2005, entry for text of the bill.)
The seats in the large Council Chambers were filled with frustrated preservationists from every borough, the vast majority of whom testified in support of this legislation to strengthen New York’s Landmarks Law and expand the ability of the public to participate in the designation hearing process. Their heartfelt testimony was echoed in New York Timesarchitecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff’s milestone article,“Turning Up the Heat on a Landmarks Agency” (11/14/05, pE1), which cites the imminent destruction of 2 Columbus Circle and other examples as evidence that “what is needed is a ruthless analysis of the landmark designation process.”
November 7, 2005
LANDMARK WEST! launches the 2 Columbus Circle “Shame Cam” to keep a 24/7 vigil as scaffolding begins to cover the building’s facade.
November 2, 2005
“Bard Wanted 2 Columbus Circle,” reports The Architect’s Newspaper, just as the Museum of Arts and Design closed on the purchase of 2 Columbus Circle from the City.Aric Chen writes, “In countering preservationists, proponents of that plan long insisted that (1) the building had no architectural merit and (2) it was unusable as it was and would simply languish otherwise.” Both arguments are disclaimed by “a July 26 letter from Susan Soros in which the Bard Graduate Center director and ex-wife of billionaire George Sorosoffers to save the beleaguered structure. Addressed to the mayor, the message states clearly that ‘the Bard Graduate Center would be most interested in taking the building over and restoring and preserving it.’ But according to our sources, her proposal—which followed similar efforts by the Dahesh Museum in the past—received no response. How come?”
October 6 , 2005
2 Columbus Circle supporters participate in a lunchtime demonstration (free brown-bag lunches provided) in front of the AIA NY Chapter headquarters at the Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place). The AIA hosted a VIP reception in honor of the Museum of Arts and Design’s plan to deface 2 Columbus Circle. Dozens of people, including architects, were on hand to tell the AIA, “You don’t speak for us!”
Artist Chuck Close, together with over 50 illustrious members of the arts and design community, sends letter to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stating, 2 Columbus Circle “has been for too long mischaracterized and underappreciated for the important work of art that it is….New York is the world’s most creative city. And 2 Columbus Circle is a building of worldwide significance. We simply cannot afford to lose it. Don’t let it happen on your watch! Let’s use our collective creativity and intelligence to come up with a solution.” Click here to read entire letter, with original co-signers. World-renowned architects Henry Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Cesar Pelli, Kevin Roche, and landscape architect Laurie Olin (who designed the new landscape in Columbus Circle) also added their names to the letter, along with many AIA members. Click here to see additional co-signers.
Councilmember Bill Perkins introduces Intro. 0705-2005 “The Landmarks Hearing Bill” in the New York City Council. This bill would enable the City Council, by majority vote, to direct the Landmarks Preservation Commission a hold a public hearing on a proposed landmark. It would also direct the Commission to hold a public hearing on a property upon recieving written notice from the New York State Historic Preservation Office that it is eligible to be listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places. Click Here for a short explanation of the bill.
August 14, 2005
Vincent Scully, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Yale University writes Landmarks Chairman Robert Tierney, urging him to “hold a full public hearing to debate the issues raised by the proposed remodelling of 2 Columbus Circle.” Tierney has claimed takingan undergraduate course with Scully 40 years ago as his principal architectural education. For the full text of the letter, click here.
July 14, 2005
Over 150 participants, including Robert A.M. Stern, Tom Wolfe, and numerous elected officials, gather in the library of the General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen (20 W. 44th Street) for a “People’s Hearing” on 2 Columbus Circle, called for by New York City Council Member Bill Perkins, and chaired by New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried.
To read what architects, preservationists, elected officials, and other members of the community had to say at the hearing click here.
July 7, 2005
NYC Corporation Counsel sends letter to NYS Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman committing not to finalize the sale of the building to the Museum of Arts and Design or permit work under DOB permits until September 7, 2005.
June 29, 2005
New York Times runs editorial stating that “ dooming [2 Columbus Circle] without a hearing is an enormous mistake, one that seriously erodes the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s purpose and whatever political independence it has managed to attain since it was first created.” Department of Buildings approves permit to remove building’s façade.
June 23, 2005
“Hands Around 2 Columbus Circle!” Supporters of a Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing for 2 Columbus Circle rally in front of the building. Council Member Bill Perkins announces his sponsorship of a “People’s Hearing” in July (see press release). To read a statement by Council Member Margarita Lopez, who also supports a landmarks hearing, click here. To see pictures, click here.
June 21, 2005
The World Monuments Fund names 2 Columbus Circle to its list of the “100 Most Endangered Sites” on earth. For more information on this list, selected by an international jury of experts, please visit www.wmf.org. To read Robin Pogrebin’s New York Timesarticle, “2 Columbus Circle Makes Group’s List of Threatened Sites,” click here.
May 31, 2005
2 Columbus Circle supporters demonstrate in front of the Museum of Arts and Design.To see pictures, click here.
May 27, 2005
LANDMARK WEST! files Article 78 lawsuit against LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney, MAD and its affiliates Laurie Beckelman, Holly Hotchner, and Jerome Chazen for “conspiracy to obstruct and subvert the lawful functioning of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission” (see Petition and Exhibits filed in NYS Supreme Court).
May 17, 2005
LANDMARK WEST! submits formal Request for Evaluation of 2 Columbus Circle to the LPC and requests recusal of LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney (see Request).
May 16, 2005
Former LPC Chair Gene A. Norman testifies at a City Council oversight hearing chaired by Council Member Bill Perkins on the operations of the LPC that 2 Columbus Circle should get a public hearing and that “if people are preventing things from moving in a forward direction, they should be replaced.”
May 15, 2005
The New York Times magazine cover story asks, “Is it Time for the Preservation of Modernism?” An online poll shows that 70% of readers believe that we are NOT preserving enough Modern buildings.
May 12, 2005
New York Times reports: “The architect Robert A. M. Stern challenged the chairman of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday night to explain why he did not hold a hearing on 2 Columbus Circle, designed by Edward Durell Stone as Huntington Hartford’s Gallery of Modern Art but never designated a landmark. The building is to be reconstructed as the Museum of Arts and Design. ‘Not to preserve the building is shocking, but not to hear it is criminal,‘ Mr. Stern said during a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y, addressing Robert B. Tierney, the chairman. Mr. Tierney did not directly respond except to say that the commission had decided in 1996 not to hold a hearing on the building and that he had chosen not to revisit the decision. The panel, which discussed the effects of 40 years of landmarks regulation on architecture in New York, also included the architects Hugh Hardy and James Stewart Polshek.
April 18, 2005
Gotham Gazette Lists 2 Columbus Circle Among 10 Threatened Sites In New York City. See the full list.
March 28, 2005
LANDMARK WEST! submits formal nomination of 2 Columbus Circle to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
March 17, 2005
LANDMARK WEST!, Parc Vendome Condominiums (representing over 500 families) et. al. file lawsuit against the City of New York. See press release and March 24, 2005,New York Times article by Robin Pogrebin.
December 23, 2004
LANDMARK WEST! files Article 78 petition against the LPC for failure to comply with Freedom of Information request for documents pertaining to 2 Columbus Circle. LPC releases limited number of documents in late January 2005.
December 1, 2004
The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court hears appeal of Article 78 lawsuit filed by LANDMARK WEST!, Historic Districts Council, DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State and others. Dismissed in late February 2005.
Second lawsuit filed by LANDMARK WEST! against Manhattan Borough Board, which approved the sale of 2 Columbus Circle to the Museum of Arts and Design on August 24, 2004.
November 29, 2004
Gotham Gazette publishes online article by LW! Executive Director Kate Wood, “2 Columbus Circle and the Need to Preserve Preservation.” New York City Council holds second oversight hearing on the administrative practices of the LPC. Read formerLandmarks Commissioner Anthony M. Tung’s testimony. Read report, “Problems Experienced by Community Groups Working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” coordinated by the Women’s City Club and endorsed by nearly 50 groups citywide.
October 20, 2004
Tom Wolfe joins 2 Columbus Circle supporters for rally on City Hall steps. Hundreds attend special City Council oversight hearing on administrative procedures of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). LANDMARK WEST! testimony (delivered at a follow-up hearing on November 29, 2004) calls the refusal of the LPC to hold a public hearing on 2 Columbus Circle “a case example of deeper dysfunctions that prevent the Landmarks Commission from upholding its essential mission to protect the architectural heritage of our city.”
October 4, 2004
New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff faults the Museum of Arts and Design’s planned re-design of 2 Columbus Circle: “The result looks timid. Seen from across Columbus Circle, it would fit nicely with the sanitized vision of the Time Warner Center next door. […] The real aim of this design is to cleanse the site of uncomfortable historical memories and thereby make it more palatable for powerful real estate interests. And this is a dangerous sign for the future.” Click here to see full NYT article click here.
August 24, 2004
Manhattan Borough Board approves sale of 2 Columbus Circle to Museum of Arts and Design. Over 100 individuals and organizations sign on to letter protesting scheduling of hearing during last week of August. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields refuses to reschedule the hearing. NYC Council Member Bill Perkins (via his representative Ed Sullivan) casts the sole vote in opposition. He is quoted in the Daily News : “This is a precious piece of property. I thought it was important that we take a position that respected the architectural and historical significance.”
August 20, 2004
“Silent Majority” list of supporters of a public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission reaches 1,000 mark.
June 29, 2004
“Save 2 Columbus Circle” benefit auction raises over $50,000 for preservation efforts. Host Committee includes Jonathan Adler, Barry Bergdoll, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Michael Bruno, Chuck Close, Andrew Cogan, Frank de Biasi, Joan K. Davidson, Senator Tom Duane, Todd Eberle, Michael Formica, Françoise Gilot-Salk, Milton Glaser, Bob Hiemstra, Mary Anne Hunting, Reed & Delphine Krakoff, Barbara Jakobson, Gene Meyer, Very Rev. James Parks Morton, Carlos Mota, LeRoy Neiman, Liz O’Brien, Alan Rosenberg, Jill Rudnick, Michael Sorkin, Ken Smith, Robert A.M. Stern, Edward Durell Stone, Jr., Hicks Stone, Alan Wanzenberg, Tom Wolfe, James Zemaitis andLANDMARK WEST!
May 24, 2004
The National Trust for Historic Preservation names 2 Columbus Circle as one of America’s “most endangered” buildings.
May 21, 2004
Notice of Appeal filed with the Appellate Division, First Department, from the decision and order of the Supreme Court.
February 27, 2004
NY State Supreme Court Judge Walter Tolub hears oral arguments in Article 78 lawsuit filed by LANDMARK WEST!, Historic Districts Council, DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State and others. Article 78 petition denied on April 23, 2004.
New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp cites the failure of the Landmarks Commission to hold a hearing on 2 Columbus Circle on of the architectural “Lows” of 2003. He writes, “The refusal of the New York City Landmarks Commission to hold hearings on the future of 2 Columbus Circle is a shocking dereliction of public duty. Unacceptable in itself, this abdication also raises the scary question of what other buildings the commission might choose to overlook in the future.”
November 24, 2003
Preservation League of New York State announces inclusion
of 2 Columbus Circle on its 2004 “Seven to Save” list.
November 3, 2003
LW! files Article 78 lawsuit against City et al., protesting
failure to review environmental impacts that impose on
October 12 and 13, 2003
Tom Wolfe editorial is published on New York Times Op-Ed
page over two consecutive days.
July 2, 2003
New York City Planning Commission approves disposition of 2 Columbus Circle to the Economic Development Corporation for sale to the Museum of Arts and Design. (The Museum plans to replace the building’s original facade and interior, designed by Edward Durell Stone and completed in 1964, with a new design by Allied Works Architecture).
June 18, 2003
City Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the disposition of 2 Columbus Circle. See LW! testimony and written submission.
June 16 – July 2, 2003
LANDMARK WEST! and Western Interiors magazine co-sponsor on-line forum on 2 CC, moderated by architecture critic Paul Goldberger. For a transcript, click here.
March 31, 2003
Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) begins, allowing for public review of limited issue of the disposition of the building (not its landmark status).
February 12, 2003
LANDMARK WEST! and the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter co-sponsor a panel discussion on the future of 2 CC at Steelcase (4 Columbus Circle). Over 200 people attended to hear the discussion among panelists including Kurt Andersen, Reed Kroloff, Theodore H.M. Prudon, Billie Tsien and Thomas Mellins (moderator). For a transcript, click here [link to attached document: 2CCPanelTranscript]
LANDMARK WEST! launches postcard campaign. Mayor Bloomberg receives hundreds of cards calling for him to urge the Landmarks Commission to schedule a hearing for 2 Columbus Circle.