Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cordoba House Proposal Goes Before the Landmarks Preservation Commitee

Today is the day the LPC gets to hear from the community on the landmarking of the Cordoba House location 45/47 Park Place. They'll be getting an earful, but do people really understand that even if the LPC gives landmark status, this isn't necessarily the end of the project?
Commissioners at Tuesday's hearing will discuss architectural and historical merits of the building. A vote is expected this summer.

Rick Bell, head of the American Institute of Architects-New York chapter, says 45 Park Place is simply not good enough to receive city protection.

"If I was on the commission, I would probably vote against maintaining it," Bell said. "This is a building no one will lose sleep over it if it's gone."

Roger Byrom, chairman of the landmarks committee for Community Board 1, said his group voted not to recommend landmark designation.
The 152 year old buildings aren't sufficiently meritorious in their design or lineage to be worthy of landmark designation - so say the AIA and the CB1 landmarks committee. There are far better examples of this kind of architecture, and the buildings themselves weren't landmarked years ago when the idea first was floated to give them that designation.

Moreover, even if landmarking the exteriors is warranted and recommended by the LPC, the proposal to turn the facility into a mosque and community center isn't stopped - the proposal can work around the facade requirements.

It's not like the LPC has recommended against landmarking on historic buildings in the past - take the Edward Durell Stone building at 2 Columbus Circle that is now the Museum of Arts & Design for example. The unique and distinctive facade was the signature of Stone's design, but the LPC denied the landmark status, enabling a complete redo of the exterior with new cladding and features.

Still, all of this isn't going to keep some people from hyperventilating about how this proposal would be building a mosque at Ground Zero - when in fact it is two blocks away (and the mosque that is behind the proposal has been located about a mile from Ground Zero for more than 2 decades).

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