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Landmarks Commission Rejects Plan to Bring Aluminum House to Sunnyside

 The Aluminaire House, built in 1931, was the first all-metal, prefabricated house built in the United States.
The Aluminaire House, built in 1931, was the first all-metal, prefabricated house built in the United States.
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SUNNYSIDE — The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted against a controversial plan to relocate an historic aluminum house to a lot in landmarked Sunnyside Gardens.

The LPC rejected the Aluminaire House application last week, saying the all-metal, pre-fabricated home — the first of its kind built in the U.S. — is "not appropriate" for the proposed site, according to the commission. The Sunnyside Post first reported the news.

A pair of architects had been pushing to see the 22-by-28 foot structure moved and re-opened as a museum on a lot at 50th Street and 39th Avenue, where the property's owner had also proposed building a 2-story, 8-unit apartment building.

The applicant will have the opportunity to present a revised proposal for the site, a spokeswoman for the LPC said.

Queens Community Board 2 voted against the proposal this fall, and the plan was met with opposition from a number of Sunnyside Gardens residents as well as elected officials, who said the metal house was out of character with the historic district's existing red brick homes.

"...It would be inconsistent with the unique beauty of this part of our neighborhood," State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who testified against the plan, said in a statement on Tuesday.

One neighborhood group has also been pushing to see the lot  — a former children's playground for Phipps Garden Apartments — turned into a public park or community garden.

Built in 1931 by architects Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, the Aluminaire House was meant to serve as a prototype for inexpensive, mass-produced housing options.

Jon Michael Schwarting, one of the architects who had been pushing to see the structure moved to Sunnyside, said the building would have been a good fit for Sunnyside Gardens, a planned housing community built in the 1920s.

Schwarting said Tuesday that he plans to continue looking for another site for the Aluminaire House, which has been in storage for the last year. He said he hopes it can find a place in New York City.

"We’ll be looking for another place to put it, for sure," he said.