LESPI's Letter re New Building Proposal for 119-121 Second Ave

June 18, 2018

Alysha Lewis-Coleman
Board Chair
Manhattan Community Board 3
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY I 0003

Re: 119 and 121 Second Avenue Certificate of Appropriateness Application

Dear Ms. Lewis-Coleman,

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative's (LESPI's) Architectural Design Review Committee has reviewed the proposed design for the site at 119 and 121 Second Avenue and finds that it respectfully acknowledges the buildings that were lost on that site and interacts well with the adjacent historic neighboring buildings while still presenting itself as a clearly contemporary structure. The brick corbeling, the reinterpreted cornice, the ground-floor retail space, and the strongly-defined street wall all reinforce key elements of the Lower East Side's characteristic architecture and streetscapes, even while the proposed design does not merely mimic a 19th-century structure.

One other key element of the Lower East Side's characteristic architecture, emphasized on nearly every page of the Lower East Side / East Village Historic District Designation Report, is the variety and exuberance of the facade detailing of the Lower East Side's buildings. To quote from the Designation Report 's introduction: "Facades [of 19th-century Lower East Side tenements] typically featured richly molded terra cotta detailing, textured brickwork, densely layered beltcourses, projecting piers, and boldly massed cornices." The specific descriptions of the original buildings at 119 and 121 also list exuberant facade elements like engaged pilasters, inset panels, masonry bands integrated with the window lintels, brackets, and other small details. All this is to say that the proposed design, as respectful as it is, is also more restrained than necessary. Although the proposed design goes some way towards capturing this spirit, LESPI's Architectural Design Review Committee suggests that further emphasizing the playful exuberance and eye-catching detail characteristic of Lower East Side architecture would make this an even more successful design, especially for such a prominent comer location on Second Avenue.

Sincerely,

Britton Baine
Chair, Architectural Design Review Committee

cc: Richard Moses, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative.

 

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy