Community rallies for FIVE hours in support of the 117-year old individual landmark at 361 Central Park West. LPC takes No Action. Directs applicant to “take five” and reconsider plans.
Echoing Community Feedback, and disapproval from CB7’s Preservation Committee & their Full Board the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) also found proposed changes to 361 CPW to be inappropriate.
Without once mentioning the authorship of the stained art glass CMOM hoped to remove, nor depicting any of the myriad original copper pavilions on the roof they sought to remove, architects from FX Collaborative presented their proposal to reinvent the former First Church of Christ, Scientist into a Museum.
When opened to community testimony, CMOM staff speed-read letters from various electeds and board members. Like the neighbors, they too support CMOM, but often omitted some of the pertinent landmark issues at hand.
With over 50 speakers commenting, below are some excerpts of notable testimony:
“St. Louis is a little further west than we’d like [for relocating the art glass]” – J. Adolf (CB7 member)
“Allowing a visible, incongruous mass to an individual landmark is tantamount to demolition by permits” K. Carroll (for Historic Districts Council)
“If it [the roof terrace] walks like a fund raising space and it talks like a fund raising space, that’s what it is!” Dr. D. White (parishioner of Fresh Start, New Beginnings Church)
“Do we really think a child will want to learn about a [removed and relocated] door?” S. Bell (parishioner of Fresh Start, New Beginnings Church)
and of course, the indefatigable Society for the Architecture of the City’s Christabel Gough’s analogy that this landmark is “not a blank canvas,” and not an animal without a backbone that “simply secrets” speaks to the latent power this dormant landmark retains.
Ultimately, the LPC came out strong, reaffirming their mission, and taking issue with the door removal, stair removal, signage, rooftop terrace, rooftop massing, and stained glass removal…i.e. all the elements of the proposed alteration.
S. Simon, founder of Central Park West Neighbors Association summed it up as:
The Landmarks Preservation Commission saw the design proposal for First Church just as the community did from day one and asked F/X to go back to the drawing board. Landmark West!, CPW Neighbors Association, the Community Board and hundreds of neighbors had tried to convey this to CMOM well in advance of the LPC hearing but to no avail.
CMOM knew the First Church was a designated landmark of great distinction when they decided to purchase it. Their design proposal needs to respect that and bring new life to a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts age by enhancing and not destroying it.
Watch the proceedings HERE.