The Astor Library was the subject of the Landmarks Preservation Commission's first public hearing in 1965.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (“LPC” or “Commission”) is proposing new rules and amendments in Chapters 2, 5, 7 and 11 of Title 63, with most of the proposed changes occurring in Chapter 2. Many of its sections would be re-arranged and renumbered; some of the existing rules would also be combined. For example, Chapter 3, concerning work on windows in designated buildings, would be amended and re-codified to be part of Chapter 2. The proposed changes are intended to streamline the process for approving every day work on designated properties, and to make the regulatory process more efficient and transparent for applicants, neighbors and the public.
Section 2-11: Repair, Restoration, Replacement and Recreation of Building Facades, Materials, Surfaces, Features, and Elements. The proposed rule would broaden the applicability of criteria for repair, restoration and recreation to most other materials (e.g., other masonry, brick, stucco, cast iron, and terra cotta), and `would also contain requirements, such as environmental conditions, probes and samples.
The ability of LPC Staff to approve the use of substitute materials is defined and expanded from the current rules based on the Commission’s existing practices and criteria. Use of substitute materials would be limited in terms of where on a building it can be used and for what purpose. For example, on cast iron buildings, a substitute material that is not metal would be limited to discrete elements above the second story. Wider use of substitute materials could occur above the sixth story. In each case the substitute material could not be discernible and could not detract from the significant architectural features of the building or neighboring buildings.
There are also specific criteria proposed for the use of fiberglass. Fiberglass cannot be used to replace masonry (including terra cotta) below the seventh story, nor can it be used to replace sheet metal, cast, wrought, or extruded metals below the seventh story, except for a small number of discrete elements. There is one exception to the restrictions on fiberglass, if it were to be used to recreate an original or missing significant façade feature (such as a cornice, band course or door hood), where the feature was missing at the time of designation and recreation, would serve to complete the original or historic composition of the building or to unify a row of buildings.
Proposed subdivision would codify the Commission’s practice of approving façade reconstructions on buildings in historic districts where a façade must be taken down due to severe structural issues and/or materials failures, as documented in a structural conditions report. The proposed rule would allow LPC Staff to approve this work, provided the building is a contributing building to the district and existing modified features, such as shaved lintels or sills, are recreated. If a building does not contribute to the district, LPC Staff may not approve recreating t
he existing, noncontributing façade, but may approve the restoration of the historic façade if the restoration meets other requirements for documentation of the historic design. If a building has been combined or so significantly altered that it cannot be returned to its historic condition, or if an owner does not want to restore the historic façade, the Commission must review and approve the new design.
Interested parties are invited to submit comments and testimony on the proposed rule revisions, at 9:30 on March 27, 2018. This hearing will be held on the 9th Floor North at 1 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007. You can submit your comments to LPC here.