Midtown’s Former Citicorp Center Makes The Cut As NYC’s Youngest Landmark
In a recent public hearing, the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission gave 11 historic Midtown East buildings a valued Landmark status.
Famous British actor, Gary Oldman once lamented, “It’s a shame about California, and particularly about L.A., where they’ve demolished so many landmarks. It’s a bit of a disease there, where if anything is over 30 years old, they sort of knock it down and replace it.” While L.A is losing its recognizable trail of buildings, its East coast counterpart, New York is adding 11 more landmarked buildings to its architectural landscape. In a recent public hearing, the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission gave 11 historic Midtown East buildings a valued Landmark status.
Preservationists, officials and multiple city agencies were in a raging hurry to have these historic buildings landmarked before the Midtown East rezoning initiative gained momentum. The rezoning effort will enable the city to build 16 new office buildings with proposals for 300,000 square feet of retail space and 119 apartments. The process of selecting the landmark properties though extensive was a rather swift.
With the exception of handful debatable picks including the Pershing Square at 125 Park Avenue, the Graybar Building at 420 Lexington Avenue, the former Shelton Building at 525 Lex, The Benjamin Hotel at 125 East 50th street and Hotel Lexington at 511 Lex, all other structures were unanimously decided on. Of the 5 controversial choices, Pershing Square posed most resistance with advocates and preservationists butting heads.
If landmarked, the building that occupies the southern terminus of Grand Central with access to the 4,5,6 subway lines would allow no room for infrastructural changes in the future. Vishaan Chakrabarti, Architect and Columbia University opposed the decision to landmark Pershing, since it would “hobble the transportation hub, especially as the city moves forward with its plan to rezone Midtown East and attract more modern office buildings to the neighborhood.”
Many others supported Vishaan’s views, with concerns about overcrowding the already packed subway lines once the rezoning occurs. The officals’ arguments were eventually silenced with LPC chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan concluding that historic buildings could sensitively incorporate any future infrastructural changes, if the situation arises. In a couple of weeks following the unanimous votes to assign the chosen landmarked structures, the commission added yet another to the list- 601 Lexington Avenue, identified as the former Citicorp center.
The Hugh A. Stubbins-designed building rounded up the total number of landmarks within the midtown radius to 50. According to LPC chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, “The Citicorp Tower’s distinctive features make it one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in NYC. Today we ensured that future generations would enjoy this irreplaceable part of our skyline.” The Citicorp is also presently the city’s youngest landmark.
Srinivasan also informed that, “The agency’s comprehensive plan aims to ensure that an area defined by constant evolution retains its unique interplay between historic buildings and new construction.” For once, bringing in the new doesn’t have to mean, out with the old.
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