New House Planned at 414 Waverly

Last night at Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee Meeting, Urban Pioneering presented a rendering for a 4-story, 2-family town home at 414 Waverly Avenue between Gates and Greene. (It’s the house on the left. A parking lot is currently there.) The design, which the developer has already been working with the Landmarks Committee for a few months, is a carriage house style, and members of the board appreciated that the 4th floor would be a lighter color than the rest of the building, as well as set back 15 feet. The entire building would be 50 feet deep on a 100 foot deep lot. The Land Use Committee gave its stamp of approval on the spot. Looks pretty tasteful, don’t you agree? GMAP

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  • Yes, well done.

  • typical dumbed down LPC staff design.
    A good architect should not be afraid to bring a good original design proposal to the Commission. Unfortunately only about three of four Manhattan firms have the courage to actually do that. Most others let the staff, who know nothing about design, lead the way. This is just blah.

  • Minard, will take that over a parking lot and it could be worst cause we’ve seen worst. This aint BK Heights. This is good enough for our hood

  • Here is a testament to the silliness of the preservation laws. In a city like New York, teeming with talent, the LPC process results in a banal building that merely apes the surrounding structures. How is this any different than a Disney faux-village? Are we to understand that there is no new idiom that can work in this context? Apparently not, according to the LPC.

    Someday folks will look back on this process and ask themselves: what were folks thinking?

  • Isn’t that the idea on a landmarked block, to maintain consistency? Waverly is a street of carriage houses for Clinton and Washington Avenues, and townhouses. Looks nice to me.

  • agree with benson completely.
    The objective of historic districts should be to protect those building which are actually historic. this is fake historic junk. however, at least the LPC prevents the horror-show type buildings from being built in historic districts.

    The argument of “it’s better than a parking lot” is always brought up in these threads and it’s always a terrible argument. “good enough for our hood” seriously??

  • No – the idea of a landmarked area is to preserve the integrity of actual historic buildings not dilute their importance by throwing up fake oldey. A contemporary design that is respectful of the scale and massing of the street would be a great way to highlight the real historic structures (and create some history that reflets our own era).

  • TD, most certainly better than parking lot that’s not used that much and also good enough for the hood. would love something even nicer (ie who wouldn’t) but aint going to bitch too much about better when presented with something nice.

  • Looks good on paper. The one on Lefferts Ave/St James is a fine real life example. Although it could have been scaled more in line with the neighboring antiques.

    ***Bid half off peak comps***

  • Lefferts Place, not Ave…

  • I know it could be worse, I really do, and we are so used to really horrendous new buildings that when we see something that is not aggressively awful we like it.

  • Have to say I’m with Minard and TD on this. In this situation I always think of the rebuilt townhouse on 10th St. in the village. It was blown up in the 60’s by the SDS bomb makers in the basement and was rebuilt with a large contemporary window angling out of the brick facade. It was in context, but fresh and of the time as well.

  • I hear Minard’s reservations and agree for the most part although perhaps I don’t find this as offensive as he does. The silliest part of it is the stepped back 4th floor in a different color. It disrupts the overall design and draws attention to the top floor when presumably the idea was to minimize this floor. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Wouldn’t it look so much better if it was just designed as an uncompromised 4-storey building with a flat front? Doubtful anyone would quiblle about 4 storeys being too tall.

  • milquetoast – but i don’t have visceral dislike of the thing.

    I’m generally in agreement with Minard – there are many excellent firms who specialize in modern interpretations for landmark districts. Some of my fave built examples are the prep school off of PPW across from the park and Nouveaus Broadway building (which you can’t appreciate until you approach from a side street – it just NAILS the rhythm of the context…)

    That said – its fine. Nothing to hand out awards or bjs over but absolutely okay. I’m just guessing, but I would imagine the client got exactly what they paid for here…

  • It would take a courageous developer to demand anything other than a “rapidly approvable” design in this location. The facade is certainly better than a lot of new construction, thanks to the enforcement of Landmarks’ preferences – no fedders or PTAC grilles, use of brick masonry, etc. On the other hand, it isn’t very interesting.

    While I don’t think that the ho-hum design is any reflection on the architect, who is likely capable of much better, it certainly does demonstrate the impact of the Landmarks process on the quality of architecture. Definitely the process is slowed down, but instead of giving rise to better and more thoughtful design, the result is a timid, disney-fied architecture of displacement.

  • It’s not just that it’s historicist, it’s that it’s boring historicist. I mean, carriage houses are awesome, an you could have done any number of great things within the language of the existing buildings.

    This building being boring-as-hell is just as much the architect’s fault as it is LPC. Without the LPC constraints, I suspect we would have an equally snooze-worthy building, just without a cornice or lintels.

  • “While I don’t think that the ho-hum design is any reflection on the architect, who is likely capable of much better, it certainly does demonstrate the impact of the Landmarks process on the quality of architecture. Definitely the process is slowed down, but instead of giving rise to better and more thoughtful design, the result is a timid, disney-fied architecture of displacement. ”


  • “While I don’t think that the ho-hum design is any reflection on the architect”

    I couldn’t disagree more. If your response to constraints is to draw up boring disney village, you’re not a very good architect. You’re a boring disney village architect.

  • Hey bfarwell – the reason that designs in Landmarks districts tend to be so timid is that most owners are not willing to allow it. The first thing that they demand of us as architects is “get it approved.” Hell, half of them wouldn’t use an architect at all if signed and sealed plans weren’t required for a permit.

    Landmarks will tell you that they consider each project on a case by case basis, and that their guidelines are “flexible.” What this means is that going through approval, you will be subject to the whimsical interpretation of the Landmarks reviewer.

    My interesting, creative, and scholarly exploration of the carriage house as a building type may be fun and interesting, and result in great architecture. However, to the eye of the recently graduated preservationist bureaucrat reviewing things at landmarks, there may be something “not quite right” about it. As an architect you can disagree with the bureaucrat, and even win the case for your design. But you’ll lose months of time doing that.

    Unless the building owner / developer is a collaborator and willing to take the risk that comes with a drawn out public process, the best you can hope for is mediocrity.
    And then you have to face the community board. Please let’s not go there. At least the landmarks people have refined and educated opinions.

  • Architect66;

    You’re hitting it out of the ballpark today!!! Thanks for these posts -excellent points.

  • benson my pleasure. I figure I may as well spread the wisdom around during a slow economy. Looks like Mexico is creaming France too. o===========<(O) o==============<(O)

  • Minard, if you are still reading today, I’d like to please know your opinion of the buildings at 3rd and Bond. I like them but I am not a trained or experienced architect as you are. I read and learn from your posts. Thanks.
    (Now will get back to reading the topic.)

  • I like the plainness of this building. I also like many other types of buildings. I am glad this is being built.