The architecture magnet that is the High Line is still attracting those big steel-and-glass gems. The Standard, the Whitney, Diane Von Furstenburg’s place, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Neil Denari and his crooked HL23—all are there, and so is Morris Adjmi. He already has the XXX-rated High Line Building, and he has been hard at work wooing the Landmarks Preservation Commission with his designs for 837 Washington Street. Yesterday, the commission approved the project 8-2.“I think there was a very interesting and lively discussion, and I’m very happy with the result,” Mr. Adjmi told The Observer from his town car after the vote. “It was a real discussion about meaning and whether this was appropriate for the neighborhood and what something of this size would mean for this district and other districts.”
Unlike many of the aforementioned buildings, Mr. Adjmi’s falls into the Gansevoort Market Historic District, and he was referring to the time spent trying to convince the commission that his multi-story addition to an old meatpacking building across the street from the Standard would not overwhelm the original building. (The Observer first revealed plans for the commercial project last year.)
Back in April, he knocked two stories off the top, bringing the new structure to four stories on top of the two-story original. This time around, he “tightened up” the floor-to-floor heights, bringing them down more than a foot each, and new torqued steel columns now come down into the main building.
According to commission spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon, the two dissenting votes came from commissioners Michael Devonshire and Elizabeth Ryan, who felt the building was still too tall. There had been concerns about precedent, since nothing quite of this scale had been built in the district, but it is not unheard of—look no further than Aby Rosen and Norman Foster’s 980 Madison and the Battery Maritime Building.
Commission Vice Chair Pablo Vangochea felt there was an appreciable “interplay between the old and the new,” and like many of the commissioners, he liked that muscular industrialism of Mr. Adjmi’s addition.
“There are a tremendous number of low buildings in the neighborhood, so if we are going to keep building in the meatpacking district, the typologies will have to change,” Mr. Adjmi said. A simple stroll down the High Line makes that plain as day.