The Latest on 172 Duane

In 2008, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plan for a four-story addition (rendering at right) atop 172 Duane, and the approval was extended in 2014. In May, when work was observed at the site, I asked the LPC whether a new design has been approved; I was told that an application for changes to the design was currently under review, the application would receive a public hearing (no date had been set), and the changes would also be presented to Community Board 1.

I don’t recall 172 Duane subsequently appearing on the agenda for CB1’s Landmarks Committee, so I was surprised when someone at November’s CB1 Landmarks mentioned, in relation to minor changes at 170 Duane next door, that “172 Duane was approved by Landmarks.”

While awaiting clarification from the LPC, I found two documents on its website. From the first, dated June 28, 2017, and signed off by chair Meenakshi Srinivasan:

[…] The Commission received a request to amend the work approved under this permit. The proposed amendment consists of replacing the metal mesh roof deck railings with glass railings; installing glass partitions in front of and at the side of the elevator set behind the existing iron fence at the ground floor; constructing the trusses at the facade of painted cast metal instead of cast bronze; increasing the height of the street wall just under a foot; adding mullions to the glass facade of the set-back 6th floor; extending the rooftop stair bulkhead towards the rear of the roof; and reducing the size of the 6th floor window on the west elevation, as shown in drawings labeled SK001 through SK004, revised January 25, 2017, and SK101, SK201 and SK202, revised June 22, 2017, prepared by Arpad Baksa Architect. [The LPC then goes on to approved the changes; read the document here and here.]

The second document—dated September 21, 2017, and also signed off by Srinivasan—extends the approval and gives a sense of where the project stands (boldface mine):

The Chair has determined that the facts and evidence demonstrate cause to extend the Approval pursuant to section 7-03(c)(1)(i). As set forth in the applicant’s submissions, the Department of Buildings (“DOB”) issued approved the new building in December 2015; the project was delayed by the fact that the original architect went out of business in early 2015, and a new architect had to be hired and DOB materials had to be executed, submitted and approved. The new architect diligently pursued obtaining all required DOB permits and approvals. To date the applicant has spent approximately $1.9 million in connection with the project; has recently signed a $203,000 contract for foundation placement; are ready to sign a $1.4 million contract for the steel superstructure; and the preparatory work for the foundation work is in process. For all of these reasons, and based on the material submitted, the Chair has determined that the owner has demonstrated cause to renew the approval, pursuant to section 7-03(c)(1)(i) of the rules, and will extend the Approval until April 14, 2020. [Read the whole thing here.]

The questions remain: Did the LPC unilaterally approve the changes? Does LPC have any visuals of the new design? And is there anything else regrading 172 Duane still in front of the LPC? I’ll keep trying to find out….

UPDATE 11/23: The LPC says that it can amend a Certificate of Appropriateness at staff level if the changes are consistent with the intent of the original approval. The LPC doesn’t have electronic versions of the drawings.

UPDATE 2/25/20: The original architect, Vincenzo Polsinelli, just came across this post recently. He wished to note that he is definitely not out of business and is practicing here in the U.S. He added, “I obtained the original Landmarks approval. Once the approval was granted, the owner decided to hire another architect. I have not been involved since 2009.”


1 Comment

  1. You may contact me for more information regarding this project. I am the original architect.