The BHA takes a stand before the LPC -- advocating for the "best contemporary design of our time."
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission lost no time approving the design for a new building proposed to be built at 30 Henry Street (which formerly housed the newspaper offices of the Brooklyn Eagle).
30 Henry Street 's new owner and developer is Fortis Manor, LLC. His architect for the project is Stephen Byrns, partner in BHSK Architects. Byrns' design has been the subject of much neighborhood debate because - when it comes to new buildings in a historic district - opinions differ on what is meant by "appropriate" architectural style. The image below (provided by BKSK) shows the Henry Street and Middagh Street facades, as approved last month by the Commission.
At the BHA, we welcome modern architecture for new buildings in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. As BHA President Jane McGroarty puts it, " A new building in Brooklyn Heights should represent the best possible contemporary design, reflective of our time – that is, today."
And in the words of the BHA's Landmarks Committee chair, Philip Magnuson, " The Brooklyn Heights Historic District finds its quality not in a frozen assemblage of period streets and buildings, singular in spirit and style or comprised of buildings from one moment in history. Rather the Heights District embodies a vital record of architecture, urban planning, social and commercial growth, where street after street of row houses and brownstones, commingled with commercial and industrial buildings, comprise a rich context, enlivened by bold, unique buildings of exceptional design. Structures by well known architects Lafever, Upjohn, Renwick, Post, A.T.White, and more recently the modernist designs of Ulrich Franzen and Joe Merz represent the best architecture in their day. "
It is in the spirit of stewardship and support of these qualities that the BHA has objected to the design for 30 Henry Street which has been approved by the Commission.
As a gateway site at the northeast edge of the Heights, with its interesting mix of commercial, industrial and residential architecture that spans the18th - 20th centuries, we consider 30 Henry Street to be a special location, one that offers a unique opportunity for expressive, outstanding design. Alas, this is not to be.
Background note: As preservation stewards and advocates, the BHA Landmarks Committee seeks to preserve the historic integrity of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. Working as volunteers for the BHA, the members of our committee are practicing architects and architectural historians. The BHA testifies at public hearings of the Landmarks Commission when matters of significance to Brooklyn Heights are brought before the Commission, and it is in this context that we have been speaking out about 30 Henry Street.