Some changes are coming to the landmarked ground floor interior of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower in Fort Greene.
At a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing Tuesday, a representative from the architecture firm Archimaera laid out their plans for the massive ground floor space, which includes limited modifications to some of the built-in architectural furniture. He called it a “very, very conservative modification scheme.”
These include adding wheels to the podium near the entrance, two circular tables—one on the north side of the building, the other on the south—and a third, rectangular table in the middle of the hall.
“The client has been trying, without success, for a number of years to rent this out as a retail space,” the architect said. They have since realized that people are more inclined to rent the space for events and film shoots, so the idea is the make the tables mobile so they can be rearranged to accommodate different types of gatherings, he said. In 2017, owners Madison Realty Capital had alterations approved by the LPC in the hopes of attracting a retail tenant, including removal of some of the teller windows.
Nothing will leave the space, the architect promised the commissioners. When LPC Chair Sarah Carroll asked how they would be able to ensure this, the architect said that, in fact, the tables are too big to fit through the doors.
There were a few other concerns, mostly minor. Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council, who was the only person who provided public testimony, said that the organization objects to the use of steel discs for the solid bases of the round tables, and would like to see a more linear frame or transparent support system.
“As this object transitions from a piece of architecture to a piece of furniture, its treatment should reflect the lightness of the tables rather than the heaviness of the solid disc base,” she added.
In written testimony, Community Board 2 approved the changes but recommended a user manual be provided for future owners of the space.
“It’s in preservationists’ interest for this space to be used,” Commissioner Fred Bland said toward the end of the meeting. He called the changes “inventive” and “completely acceptable and appropriate.”
Sarah Carroll, in announcing the commission’s approval, said this was “a real win” for continued use of the historic space.
[Renderings via NY Landmarks Commission]
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