With few cracks, L.P.C. praises glass house


City Landmarks commissioners had mostly praise Tuesday for the proposed glass brick building designed in the same style as many of Tribeca’s historic lofts.

“This is a very daring step, but I think if it is carefully monitored, then it can be successful,” Robert Tierney, chairperson of the City Landmarks Commission, told architect Joseph Pell Lombardi at the hearing.

Other commissioners used words like “intriguing” and “innovative” to describe Lombardi’s Glass Atelier design for 401-403 Greenwich St., which will have mortar holding the glass bricks together. They asked for more details and for Lombardi to lower the height of the top floor.

“I think these are comments that we can address readily and we can turn this right around,” Lombardi told Downtown Express after the hearing. “We can get it resubmitted within the next few days. They did say it was approvable and once they say that, then they spell out the parameters.”

Lombardi plans to take two feet off the six-story residential building’s top floor, bringing the structure down to 83 feet, shorter than the nearby Summit and Hubert buildings, he said.

The commissioners did have some concerns about demolishing two low-rise buildings in an historic district, but sounded like they would approve the project with some adjustments.

“Normally I would resist losing a building that is acknowledged as having design value,” said Roberta Gratz, an L.P.C. commissioner. “In this case, it is one of those that has gone through several evolutions therefore it has been legitimately compromised to the point that it can be lost.”

Two residents who live next door spoke out against the project at the hearing. “These glass bricks seem like a Disney World gimmick rather than a truly innovative modern piece of architecture,” said one of the residents, Kelly Parker. “The arches look ridiculous and out of context, a blatant attempt to try to imitate historical forms and styles with completely out of context material. It just screams lack of integrity.”

The project will also displace a few commercial tenants who have also raised objections.

The Historic Districts Council spoke out against the design at the hearing. “It would be a shame to lose 403 Greenwich St., the small commercial building designed by Moore & Landsiedel, the firm whose works can be found in the Greenwich Village, Hamilton Heights, and Sugar Hill and the recently proposed Autobahn Heights historic districts,” said the Council’s Nadezhda Williams.

Community Board 1, with little opposition, voted in favor of the project last week.

Lombardi, who has developed several Tribeca buildings, has not disclosed the developer’s name beyond saying he is British and has registered the legal name, 102 Green Street L.L.C., after the address of another project they are working on together in Soho.

— Josh Rogers

and Candida L. Figueroa