Community Board 1, Chair Tammy Meltzer
1 Centre Street, Room 2202 – North, New York, NY 10007
July 10, 2023
Dear Chair Meltzer, dear members of the board:
The Preservation Committee of the City Club of New York would like to comment on the application to the City Planning Commission for the complete destruction of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates’ design of the covered pedestrian space at 60 Wall Street. The City Club’s preservation committee is especially concerned with good government issues affecting the processes that protect our New York City landmarks. With this in mind we would like to comment on three points.
First, good government should include better coordination between key agencies. This is an important building and an important public space by an important architect. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has stated:
staff has determined that the building and interior POPS merit further study within the context of Postmodern commercial architecture and interiors. The Commission has begun to recognize Postmodern landmarks interiors . . . . .
(letter of September 12, 2022 to DoCoMoMO)
and we recommend that the City Planning Commission get together with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the issues, to agree on a schedule for public reviews allowing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to complete its review and calendar the building and this interior space. It is not good planning or good government for public agencies to operate in uncoordinated ways.
Our second good government point is that the city should recognize its own valuable inventions and celebrate them instead of ignoring their historical importance and allowing them to be trashed. This space is one of the greatest examples of a late 20th century urban experiment by the City Planning Commission: Covered Pedestrian Spaces were an invention that created through- block pedestrian spaces with seating, some retail, and greenery. They were open to the public and part of a new more pedestrian friendly city with a more cosmopolitan vision of urban street life. 60 Wall Street is highly significant as few other CPSs have such an ambitious design worthy of the City Planning Commission’s vision. Instead of allowing this potential landmark to be destroyed forever, the CPC should demand that it be treated delicately. Improvements can easily be accomplished by minor judicious alterations: wholesale destruction of this historic CPS for a corporate lobby is unnecessary.
Our third good government point concerns the environment. It is high time that New York City Agencies recognize their responsibility in solving the climate crisis and the City Planning Commission needs to make environmentally sound decisions. There is no environmental justification for the demolition of this original design to accommodate modest new functional requirements, the design can be adapted. What justification is there for the environmental consequences of all this demolition – the added pollution from dust, trucking and transportation, the waste of the embodied energy of perfectly good materials and systems and the unnecessary dumping in landfills? There is no justification.
In conclusion we urge that CB1 recommend better inter agency coordination and the establishment of a timetable delaying any decision by the CPC to allow the LPC to complete its review. We also recommend that the CPC review all the CPSs that were constructed in the late 20th century in order to evaluate their urban contributions and better manage potential alterations. Lastly, we urge CB1 to bring environmental issues at the forefront of all discussions.
Françoise Bollack,AIA, DESA, Chair, Preservation Committee, City Club of New York
cc.: Chair Carroll, LPC, Chair Garodnick, CPC, Councilmember Chris Marte