By Nicole Breskin
GREENWICH VILLAGE — The Metropolitan Transit Authority has finalized plans to plant a ventilation facility with an unusual façade smack in the heart of Greenwich Village.
The MTA revealed the plans for the $108.9-million “fan plant” at Mulry Square, at the corner of Seventh and Greenwich avenues, to Community Board 2 at a meeting earlier this week. The building's purpose it to provide emergency ventilation in and out of the subway tunnels in case of an accident.
An artist rendering of the design shows the MTA tried to make the building blend with the Greenwich Village Historic District by covering the all-concrete structure with red brick with holes cut out to give the illusion of windows.
MTA NYC Transit’s Chief Architect Judy Kunoff presented the design to the community board as a “modern fan plant with a replication of a historic façade.”
But locals at the CB2 meeting weren't buying it.
“If this were any other landlord presenting this, we’d laugh at them for presenting this in a historic district,” said Community Board 2 chair Jo Hamilton. “I don’t know how we got to this — a blank, hollow concrete bunker.”
Greenwich Village Historic District executive director, Andrew Berman, called the design “an insult to the neighborhood and to the 9/11 memorial tiles.”
The fan plant would be located at a highly visible corner of Greenwich Village at Seventh and Greenwich Avenues, the site of "Tiles for America," a makeshift memorial with some 6,000 tiles inscribed with messages to those who lost their lives on 9/11. Under the plan, the memorial tiles would be placed at approximately eye level around the building within display windows.
The inspiration for the famous painting “Nighthalks” by artist Edward Hopper came from a diner that used to be located at the corner.
Adrienne Taub, assistant director for government and community relations for the MTA NYC Transit, said the primary intent of the facility was functionality over aesthetics.
She added that the MTA would welcome partnering with the Parks Department to add more green space in the square, which is currently slated to be paved over and largely bare.
The plant designs are already finalized as they do not require approval from city agencies, such as the Landmarks Preservation Commission, because it is called for by the state.
The building is slated to finish in 2014.