The other day I got some pushback from my weird (non-)historical preservation example, with some people saying that it wasn’t a great example of what’s wrong with preservation districts – the thing got built, after all! And of course I was being coy – that building was obviously going to pass the commissioners’ muster. But I noted that anything even the least bit more controversial – taller, say, or more modern – does not fly through so easily.
Welp, Curbed NY (your number 1 source for real estate porn) has heard your cry and presented me with a perfect example of how fucked up New York City’s historical preservation districts are: Meet the Gansevoort Market Historic District, in the heart of the Meatpacking District in Lower Manhattan
The image you see here is a rendering of a design that was actually rejected as being, among other things, too tall for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, despite it being very similar in height to buildings that were there about a hundred years ago. (And then, of course, there’s the Standard Hotel, a much taller building, right across the street!) So the architect lobbed off two stories (bringing it down to six total, which makes it less than half the height of lot of buildings in my suburban Philadelphia hometown), but still no go. The architect is going to go back for a round three at some point, but time is money, and these delays are only going to make the project more expensive.
Now, in general I think that additions should be allowed to nearly all historical buildings. If you can cram an 80-story skyscraper through the middle of the Dakota, I say go for it! I understand, however, that this is a minority viewpoint, but the case for preserving the “skyline” of a two-story factory with no architectural merit (there’s not even a friggin’ cornice!!) seems to me to be especially weak. This design looks very nice to me, even taking into account that renderings are always a bit nicer than the actual thing and it’ll look a little different once people close their blinds.
…in fact, I’d go so far as to say that it would actually be nicer without that totally non-historical warehouse that it has to be built on top of.