By Brian J. Pape, AIA, Architecture Editor
THEN: This site, addressed 192 Seventh Avenue South in the 1940 tax photo, was on a forlorn thoroughfare because the Seventh Avenue extension below West 12th Street cut a swath through the established neighborhood, leaving odd walls, yards and slivers of lot sizes, like this one just south of St. Vincent’s Hospital. Complicating the intersection of West 11th Street and a two-way Greenwich Avenue, Seventh Avenue continues through, creating a six-cornered mess. Many of these leftover corners were turned into gas stations and parking lots as the advent of private automobiles overwhelmed the streets of New York. In this case, the void was filled with a one-story “taxpayer” for a cigar store and liquor store, which structure remained until 2017 when the New York economy made it feasible to erect a larger structure. The townhouses seen here on 11th Street, one with a whitewashed party wall, remain today, but trees were added later to the barren curbsides. Photo credit: NYC Department of Records.
NOW: In October of 2017, WestView News reported the start of a new mixed-use building at 200 West 11th Street, in the Greenwich Village Historic District, replacing a one-story commercial structure. Architects SRA Architecture & Engineering and Higgins Quasebarth & Partners had their designs approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in October of 2014. That’s a long and expensive gestation period in anyone’s book.
The Jackson Group LLC, a privately owned investment company whose website strangely does not credit the architects, recently began leasing apartments there. Originally called “4-story” because the corner is four stories, residents quickly corrected that mislabeling; the backside abutting existing properties on this trapezoidal corner lot is actually five stories tall, plus bulkheads for stairs and elevator.
The final plan consists of two full-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, one with a small private terrace; and a three-bedroom, three-bathroom duplex penthouse with a large private roof deck. Each home incorporates minimalist kitchen and living spaces, large bathrooms with custom finishes, and some floor-to-ceiling windows, especially facing Seventh Avenue. All are described as “tough-luxe” designs, otherwise known as “industrial chic,” leaving some rough finishes exposed. Interiors by Ovadia Design Group strive to meld both the grit and glamour of this neighborhood. Residences will have a key-locked elevator with private access to each unit and a “virtual doorman” access from the 200 West 11th Street entry.
The key architectural features that won over the Landmarks review boards were the abundant red brick used to tie in to neighboring building materials, and the composition of balanced openings aligned from floor to floor. On the wide avenue, openings reflect the commercial strip; as the facade turns the corner on to the quieter 11th Street side, brick walls dominate with smaller windows and brick sills that refer to the adjacent townhouses. Even a large garret skylight topping the west end honors the studio skylights that dot the townhouses nearby. A simplified palette of materials mellows the overall effect of the street views.
The 2000-square-foot retail space featuring storefront glazing has been leased to Fantasy World LLC, which previously had a store nearby. Soon the sidewalks will be cleared for the heavy pedestrian traffic that enlivens this area just south of the new St. Vincent’s Triangle Park. Photo by B. Pape.
Brian J. Pape is a LEED-AP “Green” Architect consulting in private practice, serves on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board, and is Co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee.