Presenting to the community board has got be one of the toughest parts of an architect’s job. The mood in the room at last night’s CB2 meeting for St. Vincent’s Campus Redevelopment Project was cantankerous at best. The public scoping meeting, one of the first steps in the review process, gave an overview of the building massing on the site and delved into environmental impacts. Time for community input was scheduled to follow the developers’ presentations, but that didn’t stop the crowd from shouting down Perkins Eastman’s Frank Gunther and FX Fowle’s Dan Kaplan. As Kaplan worked his way through his presentation he was interrupted with shouts of “Soulless architecture for soulless people.” They were no kinder to Gunther, who discussed several details of the O’Toole renovations, including the removal of the ceramic tiles. Gunther said the tiles were not original to the building’s facade, which was concrete.
After the presentations, members of the community board teased out details in the plan from the presenters. One specific question dealt with the air rights at the site. As the plan worked its way through Landmarks, air rights above O’Toole were shifted to the East Campus. As those designs were reduced in mass to comply with Landmarks’ requests, the air rights reverted back to O’Toole and the triangular property at Seventh Avenue and Greenwich Avenue. The current plan calls for the triangle to become a park. But for the purpose of rezoning, Melanie Meyers, a land use lawyer from Fried Frank representing the Rudin family, said that the triangle ends up with 150,000 square feet in air rights and O’Toole gets about 100,000 square feet. Representatives from North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System said there are no plans to build atop the O’Toole building. But one community board member reminded the development team that they were not voting on North Shore’s stay at the site, but future owners as well. After losing St. Vincent’s, it would seem that this community isn’t leaving anything to chance.
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