Yet again, the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation (CECPP) has gone to bat to save another New York City landmark from the failures of our city’s broken landmarks process.
This time, at risk is the interior of Gordon Bunshaft’s iconic Manufacturer’s Trust Company Building at 510 Fifth Avenue. No sooner did the Landmarks Preservation Commission designate it an Interior Landmark (in February 2011, more than 13 years after designating the building’s exterior) than it turned around and effectively “de-designated” the interior by approving radical alterations to its most significant architectural features.
Yet again, CECPP has succeeded in obtaining a court order reinforcing the legitimacy of our concerns: on July 9, 2011, New York State Supreme Court Justice Lucy Adams Billings issued a stay requiring Vornado (one of New York’s most politically connected developers) to “refrain from undertaking demolition or new construction resulting in the loss of any of the building’s irreplaceable elements…” The stay has now expired and Vornado is free to proceed, but at its own risk while the court considers CECPP’s argument that the Landmarks Commission’s decision to approve changes was “arbitrary and capricious.”
This latest threat to New York’s architectural heritage echoes strongly of past crises—including the loss of 2 Columbus Circle, the Dakota Stables, and too many other special places throughout all five boroughs—caused by the Commission’s failure to uphold the Landmarks Law. (In 2008, CECPP won another milestone court victory when Justice Marilyn Shaffer ordered the Commission to take long overdue action on public Requests for Evaluation of potential landmarks and historic districts, triggering a series of New York Times investigative articles by Robin Pogrebin— here is Pogrebin’s most recent coverage of our Manufacturer’s Trust Company win.)
The saga continues… And so CECPP must continue. Please help.
Together with the Coalition to Save MHT, we were able to mobilize this latest defense of the Landmarks Law swiftly thanks to an anonymous “angel” donor, plus a number of smaller contributions from friends and supporters like you (not to mention our crackerjack team of attorneys, including Michael Gruen, Albert Butzel and Whitney N. Seymour, Jr., willing to give their all for far less than they are worth).
As usual, we’ve come out swinging, but we need your help to keep up the fight. Any size gift is greatly appreciated as a reflection of your concern and support.
Your gift is fully tax deductible!* Just Click Here to pay online by credit card.
CECPP was created to fill the need for a fearless force that would be uncompromised in its ability to expose—and redress—the corrosive practices that have been eating away at preservation in New York City for over 15 years. Our continued success proves that the preservation community can do more than hope that things will get better. We can, and we do!
Thanks so much for all you do for preservation, and for keeping hope alive.
Yours in the trenches,
P.P.S. While you’re online, visit www.SaveLPC.org to review CECPP v. LPC, Vornado et al. legal papers, including affidavits by Terence Riley (formerly the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art), Kenneth Frampton (Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University).
*Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation is fiscally sponsored by the Open Space Institute, Inc., as part of their Citizen Action Program. OSI is a nonprofit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.