By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — A radical new building proposed for TriBeCa’s historic district is too modern for the neighborhood, a panel of residents said Wednesday.
Architect Jeremy Edmiston wants to transform a three-story private residence at 187 Franklin St. into five stories of undulating brick columns, sweeping balconies and tilted windows.
Edmiston, principal at SYSTEMarchitects, said he was inspired by TriBeCa’s history of intricate brickwork and dynamic facades, and he wanted to interpret those ideas in a new way.
But Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee voted five to three against the design Wednesday night, calling it "controversial" and "too contemporary." The board’s opinion is advisory, and the city Landmarks Preservation Commission will make the final decision.
The bold design was partly inspired by the family that owns the building, who want to add in extra privacy, Edmiston said. To avoid having the house’s windows look directly into the office building across the street, Edmiston decided to tilt them so that they look to the side, not directly forward.
He then framed the windows in curved arrangements of bricks and added perforated steel balconies suspended from the facade.
Edmiston made several changes to his design after CB1’s Landmarks Committee first objected to it last month, including toning down the color of the bricks and matching the building’s top to the height of its neighbors.
But many of the committee members said the building design was still too modern.
"It just doesn’t fit in the historic district," said Noel Jefferson, a committee member. She said the balconies looked like Band-Aids.
Marc Ameruso, another committee member, said the building looked more like a temporary art installation than a contextual member of the historic district.
Board member Vera Sung said she wanted to like the design but struggled to understand it.
"I don’t know if I’m too conservative," she said, "but I can’t bring myself to accept it, and I don’t know the reason why."
Several board members liked the design and voted to support it, but they were outnumbered.
Corie Sharples, a board member who is also a principal at SHoP Architects, said she liked that Edmiston used high-quality, historic materials, and she said the proposal was better than the "blandly contextual" designs the committee often sees.
"The design is pretty aggressive, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing," Sharples said.
After the meeting, Edmiston appeared frustrated by the board’s vote.
"It’s disappointing to see how reactionary the board is," Edmiston said. "Clearly TriBeCa is a contemporary neighborhood. Nobody is suggesting we return to historic forms of transportation or historic forms of communication…. It’s unclear what would in fact pass [at the board]."
Edmiston declined to name the building owners, but said they are a husband and wife who have 10 and 13-year-old sons and want to expand the buidling so they have more living space.
The current three-story building on the site was built in 1995, so the city will not object to tearing it down, but because the lot sits in a historic district, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has to approve the design of the new structure.
Edmiston could take his design to the Landmarks Commission as soon as next month.