Ranks Break at Landmarks Over 2 Columbus Circle

406 w 31Sherida E. Paulson, former chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (2001-03), wrote an Op Ed in July 30’s New York Times on the fate of 2 Columbus Circle, the vaguely Moorish-looking monolith designed by Edward Durrell Stone which is in danger of having its facade ripped off and replaced by a modernistic response to the Time Warner Center.

Ms. Paulson, who refers to Stone’s controversial masterpiece in the Op Ed as “the black hole of Columbus Circle,” said that ” … preservationists have pressed with new urgency to have the the building designated a landmark. But 2 Columbus Circle simply doesn’t qualify. That is the professional judgment of the 19 people, myself included, who have served on the New York Landmarks Commission since 1996.”

But–oh damn–one of those 19 people, current L.P.C. commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz, wrote back to The Times on Aug. 6, saying, “Neither I as an individual commissioner nor the current commission as a whole has rendered a ‘professional’ judgment on whether there should be a hearing or a designation.”

Snap!

Adding fuel to the fire was a letter, on the same day, from Beverly Moss Spatt. Who is Ms. Spatt, you ask? Only the chair of the L.P.C. from 1974 to 1978!! She wrote that she “find[s] it difficult to believe that the 19 commission members since 1996 could have reached an absolute consensus that the building is unworthy of even a public hearing to weigh its merits.”

“If such overwhelming consensus is indeed the case, where is the public record of this decision? The failure to hold a hearing is a distressing sign of how out of touch the current commission is with the public it serves.”

Double snap!

- Matthew Grace