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Landmarks Committee OKs Windows Overlooking The Frick

By DNAinfo Staff on October 24, 2012 5:38pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the green light to a proposal permitting two residents of 11-15 East 70th Street to install four additional windows in their home, which overlooks one of the Frick Collection's gardens.

The fenestration would take place on the third-floor of the condominium building. The wall facing the garden, the only such space in New York designed by famed landscape architect Russell Page, is reportedly windowless.

The Frick Collection also has another garden located at its Fifth Avenue entrance.

The LPC's decision, reached Tuesday afternoon, was approved with 10-0 vote.

Though Community Board 8's Landmarks Committe had originally OK'd the application earlier in October, dissenters concerns that it would alter the aesthetics of the Frick — and that cosmetic changes should not take place without a master plan — eventually won over the entire board.

The Frick said in a statement to DNAinfo: "The deliberation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission is a very thoughtful process, and we fully respect the decision of that body."

Previously, however, Deputy Director Robert Goldsmith issued a statement both at the committee and the general CB8 meeting last week suggesting a more guarded position. 

Goldsmith pointed out that the proposed windows don't conform with the Landparks Preservation Comission's own rules as there would be four, rather than three, and because they would not be spaced 20 feet apart.

"Our concern is primarily for the aesthetic consistency of any such alteration and the appropriateness of the design in the contest of two individual landmarks with very distinguished architecture," he said. "It is critical that the proposed lot-line windows do not destract from the significant architectural features of the adjacent buildings."

Goldsmith also worried that other residents would want to install windows, potentially changing the "solid to void ratio" — the proportion of window and doors to wall surface on a building's exterior.

The citywide LPC, however, was not worried.

The general sentiment seemed to be that window installation would be appropriate because there would only be a few, and because they would be simple and unadorned.

“If windows had existed on this wall, and the condo owners were applying to block them up, everyone would go insane, saying ‘What are you doing? You’re creating a blank wall here.’ I feel that in New York City, nature abhors a blank wall," Commissioner Michael Devonshire said. "That said, I hope I’m not standing in the garden the day when a teenager opens a window and Led Zeppelin is playing out of his bedroom in the condo.”

Added Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney: "We should hope it’s just Led Zeppelin."