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DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State testifies at hearing on proposed changes to 140 Broadway

April 27, 2015

In early April, 140 Broadway, Gordon Bunshaft’s acclaimed minimalist tower in the Financial District, was again the subject of a hearing at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. This time the discussion centered on changes being proposed to the landmark, which was designated in June 2013. The building’s owners wish to introduce retail at the street level on the Nassau Street side of the tower, necessitating the insertion of new entrances. Such changes to a designated building generally require approval by the Commission before a building permit is granted.

DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State testified at the hearing, urging the owner’s architect team to reconsider their proposal to have the new retail entrances recessed from the curtain wall, which is inconsistent with Bunshaft’s impeccably detailed flush surface. “We recommend that the designers utilize the vocabulary of the existing building, replicating the flush doorway detail in the easternmost bay on Cedar Street, or at most recessing the new doors at the back face of the existing storefront mullions, as in other existing conditions,” stated president John Arbuckle, who spoke on behalf of the chapter.

We also recommended that the number of entrances be reduced from 4 to 2; the plans call for 2 retail units.

We were pleased that the Commission agreed, requesting the owner’s team return to the drawing board to study ways to minimize intrusions to the tower’s base. A revised version of the proposal will likely be heard by the Commission in the near future. The full April 7 presentation is currently available on the LPC website.

Completed in 1967 for Marine Midland Bank, the building is noted for its minimalist curtain wall of matte-finished black anodized aluminum, which rises 51 stories without setbacks. Its location facing Zuccotti Park across Broadway and its generous setbacks from the street heighten the drama of its trapezoidal geometry. It remains today among the finest Modern movement office buildings in New York City. DOCOMOMO US New York/Tri-State presented testimony in support of designating 140 Broadway an individual landmark in 2013, “wholeheartedly and enthusiastically” endorsing it.

DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State Marine Midland CofA Letter of Testimony, presented to the NYC LPC on April 7, 2015 (PDF)

Top: rendering of the new ground floor storefront on Nassau Street; center and bottom: screen-capture of portion of proposed elevation drawing and ground floor plan. From the April 7 LPC presentation, prepared by JJFD.