LPC Puts Another Nail in Purchase Bldg’s Coffin

purchaseWe just got word that the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 7 to 2 in favor of demolishing the 1936 Purchase Building, which sits beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. A combination of late-deco and early modernist design, the building will be cleared to create “open space” underneath the bridge. The LPC’s ruling only upholds an earlier recommendation by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation which gave the building a thumbs down last Summer in its Environmental Impact Statement. Our reaction? That sucks.
Purchase Bldg Slated for Demo [Brownstoner]

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  • I dunno. I live right there and this is a bldg that is a little hard to love. The foot of the bridge –which this bldg blocks — is far prettier IMO.

  • Convservation has a time and place. That building is not attractive – agree the base of the bridge is much prettier – and they’re demolishing it to put in open space, not a new condo, so. .

  • You don’t think there’s something wonderful about it? It could be turned into a great visitors center of parks department building, no? Guess it’s a moot point though. If LPC isn’t even behind it, its odds don’t look so good.

  • agreed. it’s fugly and weirdly sited, while the base of the bridge is gorgeous.

  • I always loved that building. It needs a little TLC, but the windows are fantastic. A little bit of bauhaus in Brooklyn.

  • save a fight for another day and building.

  • This structure has absolutely no redeeming qualities. I agree with the above post. Not worth the fight.

  • It’ll be a real shame to see this building go. It’s a very rare early modernist building in NYC in a style that’s deeply influenced by European developments of the time that went on to change the aesthetic of pretty much everything by the 1950′s. With some imagination this little gem could be spruced up and productively reused. I’ll bet it’d clean up nice, and they’ll never build another like it.

  • It is too bad that building is where it is. It would be nice to preserve it, as it has some interesting qualities.
    I’d rather see a continuation of open space under the bridge, from the park to the cafe. When the OEM “Rudy Bunker” relocates to Cadman Plaza, the Purchase Building should go.

  • Demo-ing a Landmarked building in an historic district (Fulton Ferry) is a dangerous precedance for future projects to come. Also, the building could be used for a multitude of things: visitors/nature center, restaurant (esp. for weddings), etc. It could also be truncated partially, so that part of the building could be preserved. It is outrageous that the Landmarks PRESERVATION Committee has voted to demolish it. Even if they see that politically it is a done deal to save it, they could’ve voted to preserve it, just to maintain credibility as an organization/committee. Now we are going to see asphalt there, and I bet you a million bucks, we’ll see another building there in 10 years (the grand scheme…bait and build).

  • Was the building itself landmarked? I thought it was just located in the Fulton Ferry district. Two rather different types of designation, IMO.

  • The Purchase Building was eloquently described in detail in the designation report for the Fulton Ferry District. It is not only a shame that the LPC could be so obviously pushed around by other City agencies, it is incredibly damaging to the LPC’s credibilty and the level of protection that all our Landmark Districts have enjoyed (up ’til now!) No doubt, as mentioned above, we’ll be “treated” to a piece of waterfront kitch in the very footprint of a more appropriate, truncated Purchase Building. This building will be missed by many in the Preservation Community for many, many reasons.

  • Talk about context. I like the building and if it were in say, Red Hook, it could be cool. If it were in say, Patchogue, it would be not cool and torn down for some more not cool stuff. As for where it is, I’d rather see the Brooklyn frickin’ Bridge! C’mon!

  • These days, The Landmarks Preservation Commission is just a rubber stamp comittee for developers anyway. This is a beautiful building that with just a bit of creativity could be adapted for something special.

  • Please! This building blocks the view of the most beautiful bridge in the world, or at least NYC! It so has to go!

  • Hey, unfair slap at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We got them to thumbs up saving the Austin Nichols Warehouse in Williamsburg designed by Cass Gilbert. It was David Yassky that led the charge to override that decision for the developers.

  • I thought the NYC Office of Emergency Mgmt (OEM) was in the building…did they leave?

  • I thought the NYC Office of Emergency Mgmt (OEM) was in the building…did they leave?

  • since when did a building have to be pretty to be preserved? the purchase building is a unique example of art deco architecture in new york city. true, the bridge is more majestic and monunmental, but it’s not like you can’t see the bottom of the bridge from nearby.

    as the historic districts council notes on their website (http://www.hdc.org/purchase.htm), quoting from the designation report (’77): “in terms of long-range planning, the New York City Department of Purchase buildings directly under the Bridge, although still in use by the City, are being considered for use as an art school or for other educational purposes when the buildings are vacated.” it definitely could be reused.

    saying it shouldn’t be preserved because it’s “ugly” is a continuation of a precedent that seems to be set (or being set) by new york city as a whole. while the LPC designated the austin nichols warehouse, many council members (not just yassky) said (in effect) “that’s not a landmark. it’s not pretty.” see also the argument over 2 columbus circle or the jamaica savings bank.

    now i’m not saying we should preserve EVERYTHING, but a building can have merits that need a little explantation. we also don’t want to look back in ten or fifteen years and think “hey, that building was pretty cool. too bad it wasn’t saved.”

  • Live in the neighborhood. Hate the building. Happy to see it go.

  • i like it, i just wish they’d clean up the property surrounding the building so you can actually see it. it’s got some great architectural details that just don’t get built anymore these days. is the “open space” going to be part of the waterfront park development? regardless, i don’t get this “view of the bridge pier” arguement, though. there is more than enough rusticated stonework visible in the neighborhood.

  • From what I understand, it is not so much a view of the bridge per se that they want to open up by knocking down the Purchase. It is the view corridor from Old Fulton Pier area up to where the Empire-Fulton Ferry Park is; it is a way to visually connect the two legs of the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park. Personally, I don’t think we would get much view from knocking it down, and even saving a portion of the building would be nice. Like a previous poster said, it does look like a little bit of “Bauhaus in Brooklyn.”

  • I guess beauty is in the eye and art is subjective, but IMO there is nothing unique or architecturally significant about this building. Bring on the park and the open space!