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News February 2018

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As JPMorgan Chase and the City of New York announce plans to demolish and replace 270 Park Avenue, formerly the Union Carbide building, DOCOMOMO US and DOCOMOMO US New York/Tri-state have joined forces to advocate for this iconic example of corporate Modernism. On February 21 it was announced that the JPMorgan Chase tower at 270 Park Avenue, designed by the pioneering woman architect Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and built from 1958-60, would be the first major project of the City's Midtown East rezoning. The news was announced by the New York Times and at first included no mention of the iconic building or the designers that created it (the article has since been edited).... MORE

Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Ave in 1961. Photo: Ezra Stoller/ESTO.

Gordon Bunshaft’s 140 Broadway (1967, originally Marine Midland Bank), became a NYC landmark in 2013. The large plaza displaying Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture “Cube” provides an important counterpoint to Bunshaft’s design. On January 22, the Tribeca Trib reported that the building owners had requested approval from the LPC for changes to the plaza including replacing the current planters and a plaque (both installed in 2000) with six new circular planters with engaged seating and eight light bollards. There was also a separate request, not subject to LPC review, to the Department of Transportation to install planters and benches on the public sidewalk along Broadway. ... MORE

Another development in the reimagining of Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ. Earlier this month, the township planning board granted approval for a 200-room hotel atop the former Bell Labs building, now known as Bell Works. Last year, Bell Labs was listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places after which the building owner, Somerset Development, applied for a Federal Historic Tax Credit. Somerset subsequently amended its original tax credit application to include the rooftop hotel expansion. After site visits to view mock ups, staff from the NJ SHPO and NPS approved the addition. ... MORE

New York has two historic tax credit programs, one for income-producing properties and one for owners of historic homes. Thirty-four states currently use Historic Tax Credits (HTCs). Alongside the Federal HTC (which was also recently at risk), they are powerful catalysts for historic preservation and economic revitalization. In 2016, New York led the nation in the number of completed projects using rehabilitation tax credit programs and $748 million in investments was generated by the state and federal credit. Unfortunately, both of the state’s HTCs are now at risk. Neither were included in Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Executive Budget released on January 16. Advocacy groups including the Preservation League of New York State and the Landmark Society of Western New York are encouraging individuals to contact their state senators and assembly representatives with two requests: an extension of the NYS Historic Commercial Properties Tax Credit and the NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit through December 2024, and the decoupling of the state tax credit from the federal so that the state credit may be taken in one year instead of spread over five. ... MORE

Lever House, photo: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons

After tabling a vote on demolition of Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist-style Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, NY last September, the Buffalo Preservation Board voted unanimously in October to allow demolition with the condition that “exterior walls salvaged from the Shoreline Apartments be placed at both sides of the intersection of Niagara and Georgia streets as prominently-sited gateway elements, and that a similar sculptural element be placed at the terminus of the Georgia Street extension.” On January 12, John Schmidt was the last tenant to leave after being escorted out by police. Schmidt and Terrence Robinson, a member of the Preservation Board, filed an Article 78 petition, asking a State Supreme Court judge to annul the city's Planning Board's approval of the redevelopment plan and to set aside the Preservation Board's approval to demolish the apartments... MORE

Photo credit: Sharon Cantillon for The Buffalo News