New York University applied to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on October 7 for permission to add a 38-story building to the Silver Towers complex completed by I.M. Pei in 1966, a landmarked site on their Greenwich Village campus. Half hotel, half university housing, the tower would be part of NYU’s plan to add 6 million square feet of capacity by 2031. If approved, it would be the tallest building in the Village.
Grimshaw Architects designed the new fourth tower and are also working in collaboration with Toshiko Mori and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates on NYU’s for the Silver Towers site in 2008, is organizing against NYU’s proposal on the grounds of its height and its effect on Pei’s composition. “This arrangement of three towers in a pinwheel fashion, with one side left open around a central space, was a motif you see throughout his works,” Berman said. “It was not an accident or an incomplete design awaiting a fourth element.” He also warned that allowing development on a landmarked site could set the stage for development of open space in other modernist landmarks.
According to Berman, NYU’s argument that building a tower is preferable to the Morton Williams alternative is a false dichotomy. Why not consider alternate neighborhoods, he asks, noting that community boards in the financial district have openly invited the kind of development NYU is proposing. “The fact that building on the supermarket site would also be bad doesn’t make building on the landmark site any less terrible,” Berman said. The GVSHP is organizing a rally at the site on Sunday, November 7, the day before the plan is put to a vote by Manhattan Community Board 2’s Landmarks Committee.