New York University announced its support today for the landmark designation of I.M. Pei’s Silver Towers, three tan 40-year-old buildings on a superblock in Greenwich Village. The designation would restrict changes and development on the tower sites, a move that comes as NYU is facing significant community opposition to its planned 6 million-square-foot, 25-year expansion.
NYU has previously expressed interest in putting new buildings in between the Silver Towers, and even as recently as last month the school held an open house that featured models of what development on the site could look like. In an e-mail, NYU spokesman John Beckman said such construction would still be possible after landmarking, although some of the proposed concepts would require going through the city’s landmarks approval process.
The powerful Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has pushed for landmark designation of the site, though it wants the entire superblock, including a gym and a supermarket on the edges, to receive protections.
The school had previously expressed resistance to the idea of landmarking the site, as Mr. Beckman told The Villager in 2004 that the school opposed GVSHP’s proposal.
“The designation of this entire block as a landmark would not seem to be architecturally defensible,” he said in The Villager. “Given that reality, one is left to wonder what the real motivation is for trying to employ the landmarking process. If there are people out there who want to argue for the architectural elegance of the Morton Williams supermarket, they should do so. But many people may wonder at the application of the landmarks process to such a structure."