Could a smaller model of the PSFS building rise from the corner of 13th and Florist? That’s what Inga Saffron seems to think after reviewing the planned addition for the former Big Brothers Big Sisters headquarters, a proposal the Historical Commission must decide on next Friday.
See, soon after the historic property went on the market last June (it was once the Warner Bros. film exchange building), Baywood Hotels expressed interest in adding a tower on top of the original Art Deco building, in pure Hearst Tower-style.
A July 11th vote by the commission approved this proposal, despite its architectural subcommittee protesting its design and subsequently offering suggestions for improvement. Spg3, the architect Baywood hired, took some of these suggestions, resulting in what Saffron calls a "not-so-subtle copy of the shaft of the PSFS building."
However, she speculates that whereas PSFS is made of "meticulously crafted brick," Spg3's design will probably involve the use of "budget-minded composite panels," something she deems "unworthy" of the building and neighborhood, and calls the developer and architect out on:
It's a pretty weak concept given that this is 2014, not 1932, when the groundbreaking PSFS burst on the scene. With Foster's Hearst building, which also sits atop an art deco base, the tower at least has the advantage of being a dynamic, faceted, modern form. If Baywood and spg3 were half as ambitious, it would be a huge improvement.
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