By George Capsis

The West Village has the largest collection of historical buildings in Manhattan. However, exploding real estate prices tempt monied buyers to circumvent restrictions and build denser and higher, as we are seeing on Jane Street.

Balancing this effort are the 11 commissioners of the Landmark Preservation Committee (LPC)—the largest municipal preservation agency in the U.S. Nine of these commissioners are featured on the agency’s website. The education, training, and taste of these individuals will determine the future look of the traditional “Village”. WestView thought you should know who they are…

Meenakshi Srinivasan was appointed the Chair and Commissioner of the LPC in 2014. She manages a staff of approximately 65 architects, archaeologists, preservationists, historians, attorneys, and administrators, who strive to protect over 31,000 architecturally, historically, and culturally significant sites in all five boroughs, as well as identify and designate new landmark buildings, sites, and districts. Prior to the LPC, Srinivasan worked for the NYC Department of City Planning where she led the zoning framework for Hudson Yards and the air-rights transfers for Broadway theaters. Srinivasan holds a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

Frederick Bland is an architect and Managing Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP—a New York-based architecture firm which restores and renovates historical buildings. His projects include the Mark Morris Dance Group building in the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District and the Shanghai Cultural Plaza in China. Bland is also an Adjunct Professor in New York University’s Art History Department and has served on the Board of the Brooklyn Historical Society. He earned his Master and Bachelor degrees in Architecture at Yale University, and lives in a historic district in Brooklyn.

Diana Chapin is the Executive Director of the Queens Library Foundation and is a member of the Historic House Trust, which works with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to protect and preserve historic houses. She served as the First Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and as Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Capital Projects at the NYC Parks Department. Chapin earned a Bachelor degree in English at the University of Michigan, and Master and PhD degrees in Medieval Literature at Cornell University. She is also a member of the Municipal Art Society and lives in a historic district in Queens.

Michael Devonshire was appointed to the LPC Commission in 2010. He is currently the Director of Conservation at Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, where he has worked as an architectural conservator since 1987. He is a member of the NYS Board for Historic Preservation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His first restoration project in NYC was the Schermerhorn Row at South Street Seaport. More recent restoration projects include the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights and the North China Daily News Building in Shanghai. Devonshire is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia
University and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has lived in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn for 30 years.

Michael Goldblum was appointed to the LPC Commission in 2010 and serves as its Bronx representative. Goldblum founded Building Studio Architects in New York in 1992. The firm’s projects include NYC’s first LEED-certified single-family house, along with apartment buildings, houses of worship, schools, and interiors. He is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Goldblum was an Adjunct Professor of Architectural History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He earned his graduate and undergraduate degrees in Architecture at Columbia University. He lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Kim Vauss is a NYS Registered Architect and a graduate of the City College School of Architecture. For 10 years, Vauss worked at the Office of the Mayor’s NYC Loft Board and later at the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). At the DOB, Vauss specialized in large residential conversions, new buildings, and enlargements. Vauss retired from public service to join Arc Consultants as a Senior Associate and later as Vice President. During these years, she worked on new residential buildings, commercial hotels, and commercial build-outs. Vauss has served as a guest lecturer on zoning and code issues at New York AIA symposia and appeared on CBS to offer expert opinions on building collapses.

Adi Shamir-Baron is the Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute, named after the architect of the landmark Chrysler Building. In this role, she has led programs dedicated to promoting public architecture and improving civic life. Shamir-Baron has also established the New York Prize Fellowship program dedicated to diverse investigations related to public architecture. Prior to Van Alen, Shamir-Baron served as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the California College of the Arts. Shamir-Baron holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cooper Union and a Master of Architecture and a PhD in the History of Architecture from University of California, Berkeley.

John C. Gustafsson is a retired lawyer who serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Historic House Trust of NYC. Between 2004 and 2011, he was President and Chairman of the Board of the Staten Island Historical Society. Before retiring in 2006, Gustafsson was a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group of the California-based law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton. Prior to that, Gustafsson spent seven years as in-house counsel at Honeywell International. Gustafsson received his Bachelor of Philosophy from Columbia University and his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Gustafsson, his wife, and son divide their time among his native Staten Island; Morristown, New Jersey; and Rye, New York.

Wellington Z. Chen is the Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership. The Partnership is currently working with the NYC Department of Transportation to design a wayfinding pilot project which is expected to have the first trial test prototype installed within 12 months. Chen became the first Chinese-American person to serve on a community board and local development corporation in Queens and was eventually recruited to serve on the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals. His work as LPC Committee Chair helped to preserve and restore Flushing Town Hall. He also designed the structure that now houses the Tonga Mission to the United Nations.

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