February 4, 2014
In their presentation, the applicant goes out of its way to remind us “there will be no demolition.” But there are many ways to demolish something: sometimes by taking a brick from a place it should be left and sometimes by putting a brick in a place it should not go. The effect of 100 Barrow would be to demolish its architectural and historical context.
No structure has ever abutted 96 Barrow Street. And now, instead of the twenty-two cherry trees that are there, the most well-preserved Federal house on the block would have a neighbor four times its height. The corner would become a joke of scale, a sort of brick Laurel & Hardy.
The massing of the proposed design is frenetic. Viewed from Greenwich Street, the filleted corner under the rounded corner is unprecedented in the Historic District, owing more to art deco than village brownstone or even old law tenement. The use of brick screen railing is not appropriate. There should be some kind of nominal cornice. The amount of blank street wall is not neighborly. And then, of course, there’s the height. Let’s come out and admit it — it’s the giraffe in the room.
On that subject, I happened to notice that, in the applicant’s sunlight and shadow study, the days all ended at 3pm. Did anyone else find that strange? I mean, we’re talking New York in June, here, not Helsinki in December. So I hired a firm to explore all daylight conditions using the applicant’s publicly available specifications and city tax data for surrounding lots. This study was conducted by licensed architects at I-Grace Project Development Group. The results were surprising.
Keep in mind that on a fact sheet available on St. Luke’s website, they claim the tower, “will not cast an additional shadow over the gardens.” But according to this study, on the first day of fall and spring, the tower’s shadow would begin to hit the Rectory Garden around 2:30 and gradually cover it up. By 4:30pm, light that used to reach all the way to the east side of Hudson Street, even all the way to Grove Street, would be completely gone. From public areas, the ambiance would be substantially dimmed.
On June 21st, the tower’s shadow first hits the Barrow Street Garden around 3:15, engulfing about three-quarters of it (all but the southeast quadrant) by 5 o’clock, before the Archive shadow has even begun to advance east of the Barrow Street townhouses. (You begin to see why the applicant wanted the day to end at three.)
Taken together, this evidence shows material harm to the character and aesthetic of the area in question as viewed from public rights-of-way. I ask you to deny a Certificate of Appropriateness — and out of respect for Clement Clark Moore’s original vision, to restrict development on the block to the height of the bell tower.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak.
David D. Turner