Standing three stories tall, the building is located between Washington Street and Ninth Avenue, and stretches south to Little West 12th Street. A printing house for P.F. Collier & Son from 1902 to 1929, it was designed by Trowbridge & Livingtson and built between 1901 and 1902. It fell under the LPC’s jurisdiction in 2003, with the designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
Now, the owner wants to add a single-story rooftop addition with a covered walkway, as well as extend the existing freight elevator along Little West 12th Street and the passenger elevator along West 13th Street. The design comes from architect Robin Osler of Chelsea-based EOA/Elmslie Osler Architect.
Osler said zoning would allow an additional 70,000 square feet, but the project is only seeking 7,000 square feet. She also noted that the covered walkway’s pattern was inspired by a map of the Meatpacking District.
Commissioner Michael Goldblum wondered why the addition, which would add 15 feet to the building, was so tall. Osler said the purpose is for loft space. He suggested the applicant work to reduce visibility and said the choice of brick for the bulkheads was odd. Commissioner Michael Devonshire also called for the height to be reduced and Commissioner Diana Chapin said it would be too visible over the primary façade.
LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan agreed with her colleagues. She suggested changing the bulkhead material to metal and that the applicant work with LPC staff to reduce the addition’s visibility.
“The rooftop addition and elevator bulkheads are very visible in relationship to the front façade. Our committee questions the placement of the elevator in its current configuration. Moving it back even three feet might make the difference between a highly visible addition and a less noticeable one,” testified the Historic Districts Council’s Patrick Waldo, who suggested switching the positions of the freight and passenger elevators.
Sarah Bean Apmann of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation also testified against the proposal. She said that change is a defining characteristic of the historic district, but with the exception of the lost cornice, this building, which is where e.e. cummings wrote “Buffalo Bill’s,” is largely intact.
“The proposed rooftop additions do not relate well to the existing building, either in location, massing or cladding materials. They are too intrusive and do not sit comfortably on this building. The dark standing seam metal cladding, and screen design are jarring and not in keeping with the materials or design of the building,” Apmann said. “Adjustments to the massing as well as the use of more deferential materials could effect a more appropriate and sensitive alteration, which should be minimally visible, discrete, and deferential to the design of the building.”
In the end, the commissioners voted, unanimously, to approve the proposal. The applicant will, however, need to switch the bulkhead material and work with LPC staff to reduce the addition’s visibility.