Please forward copy to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation at
gvshp@gvshp.org, or (fax) 212/475-9582, or 232 East 11th Street, NY NY 10003


DATE


Hon. Robert Tierney Chair, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th floor
New York, NY 10007
fax: (212) 669-7955
comments@lpc.nyc.gov


Dear Chair Tierney:

I write to strongly support the proposed designation of  the Silver Towers complex located at 100 and 110 Bleecker Street and 505 LaGuardia Place, including landscaping, outdoor sculpture and furniture.

One of the era's most celebrated architects, I. M. Pei, designed the buildings in 1966. Their unusual superblock design truly represents an important moment in the evolution of Pei's work, and modern design as a whole. The placement of these buildings within the surrounding landscaping and streets is at once a paradigm of modern planning and an extraordinarily sensitive and lively interweaving of this superblock scheme into the dense urban fabric around it, all too rare among similar post-war urban renewal projects.

The towers are a striking and superbly dynamic example of cast-in-place concrete design, a form rarely used anymore. The inclusion of a gigantic cubist Picasso sculpture as a foil to the towers and focus for the modernist space, along with the carefully designed furniture and landscaping, create a modernist design, the totality and success of which can scarcely be matched elsewhere in New York. Overall, the project is an innovative response to several challenging imperatives -- expansion of a major university, creation of affordable housing within a tight, legally mandated budget, and addition of a large scale modern development within one of the oldest and most densely woven neighborhoods in the United States.

Designation is needed now more than ever.  NYU has proposed to build a fourth tower on the north end of the complex.  Such construction would destroy the balance of open space to buildings, block the street grid view corridors which are such an integral part of the design, and limit views of the 'Portrait of Sylvette' sculpture at its center.  Designation should ensure that these open spaces are NOT built upon and the original design and its wonderful balance or art, architecture, and landscape are preserved. In the same vein, I urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider including the entire superblock in the proposed designation. Inappropriate development on the excluded sites, which include the supermarket and the Coles Gym, could easily destroy the integrity and quality of the complex's design, and its balance between open space and built forms, high-rise towers and low, horizontal elements.

 

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