Famous Architects Join Protest Against Addition To Iconic NYC Building

Apthorp Model
A model of the Apthorp with the proposed penthouse addition. CurbedNY

The new owners of Upper West Side landmark the Apthorp have been trying for some time to convince the City to allow them to build a four penthouse addition on top of the existing building.

If last night’s public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is any indication, it looks like Area Property Partners will not be getting their wish, reports Hana R. Alberts at Curbed.

Shortly after Area Property Partners made their pitch last night, a line of local officials, preservationists, building residents, and neighbours took turns criticising the project.

Most of the concern is that, despite the fact that the addition is hardly seen from the street, it would block light, destroy the design of the building’s courtyard, and require the altering of the open pergolas that many residents and community members feel is essential to the building’s design.

The new owners maintain that the new revenue from the addition is essential to performing necessary maintenance and preservation of the building.

While a similar protest occurred in September, last night there were also written statements opposing the project from four famous architects — Robert A.M. Stern, A. Eugene Kohn (of Kohn Pedersen Fox), Michael Graves, and David Childs (who designed 1WTC).

From David Childs:

The Apthorpe is perhaps the best known exmaple of the turn of the century, full block apartment buildings in Manhattan, and is appropriately a treasured landmark. This proposal would dodamage to the design and set an unwanted precedent for similar cases in the future.

From Michael Graves:

The current proposal to connect [the existing penthouses] by a third larger volume is inappropriate and, in fact, damaging to the appearance of the building and its design intent.

Residents of the building have been equally harsh on the proposed addition.

“It’s an eyesore and an affront to the seminal design of the building,” one resident since 1974 said during a community board meeting in late September.

Another long-time resident was even more cutting: “The structure on the top just looks like a Holiday Inn plopped on the roof…”

Below, you can see the current top of the building and the proposed add-on:

Screen Shot 2013 11 13 at 12.57.47 PM

Check out more photos and the full architects’ letters at Curbed NY »