Wednesday, October 16, 2013, by Jeremiah Budin
All renderings ©COOKFOX
COOKFOX’s crazy cantilevered building proposal for 39-41 West 23 Street divided the Landmarks Commission when it was presented last month. A revised version of the design, simplified and toned down slightly, was presented yesterday and, although not every member of the Commission was convinced that the building is appropriate for a historic district, enough were that the plans were granted approval.
The building, to be constructed on the site of another controversial proposal, the Pope Hat building (which never ended up happening), retained the basic premise of its original design—a nine-story base with a cantilevered section and secondary facade. Changes to the plans include a darker, bronze terracotta (it was originally white) and a simplified, more defined top for the secondary facade.
Landmarks Commission Chair Robert Tierney remarked that the proposal was “not only appropriate, but a striking addition” to the historic district. Commissioner Fred Bland called the proposal “exhilarating” and “a future landmark.”
Commissioner Roberta Washington, on the other hand, commented, “I like it, I just don’t think this building is appropriate for this historic district.” Commissioner Michael Devonshire, who, at the last hearing, called the cantilever “a self-conscious, distractive, architectural gimmick,” sensed that the battle was lost and conceded, as if he had a choice, that he was “willing to approve it.” “With the caveat,” he added, “that we may look back in five years and say, ‘how did we ever let this happen?’”