Earlier today, New York University filed plans with the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the Grimshaw-designed fourth tower at I.M. Pei’s Silver Towers site, the centerpiece of the campus’ 2030 expansion plan. After sweet talking locals for the past few years with the idea of moderate development, many of them view the tower as a slap in the face with the very olive branch they had extended to the university.
This tower, which requires approval not only from Landmarks but also the City Planning Commission, is guaranteed to cause a heated showdown between the community and NYU, probably eclipsing the one over St. Vincent’s expansion.
Still, NYU insists that concentrating construction on the south side of campus is better than scattering it throughout the entire Village. The school also argues that the tall tower on the landmarked Silver Towers site is preferable to one on an adjacent supermarket site, where NYU could build as-of-right. “We think the logic of our planning process and our proposal would be clear to people,” John Beckman, vice president of public affairs for NYU, told Crain’s.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a constant thorn in NYU’s side, fails to see the school’s logic. In an email, he wrote:
The current zoning for the site does not allow NYU to build anything at this location. The proposal would ruin the Pei design, block views of the Picasso sculpture, introduce a hotel into an entirely residential area, and tower over everything around it (the three Silver Towers, the tallest buildings in the Village, are only about 300 feet tall, as opposed to the proposed 399 ft. tall tower).