Stupid Preservation Tricks

One of the preservactivists leading this effort, the one who contacted me about a letter-writing campaign, lives on the 19th floor of the tallest building in the West Village. He is trying to stop the new 17-story residential tower from being built on the next block, which would involve knocking over the oldene timey historick Whitehall Mini-Storage Building.

Our building was constructed in 1989. No one liked it when it was built. The lack of recognition of the irony (and hypocrisy, how the two are twinned in our culture these days!) of this situation is appalling.

The stupidest trick: including parking garages built in the 1950s in a historic district plan to prevent new residential buildings from being built. It's the same prevarication as allowing the gays who got married in Massachusetts to stay married, but banning all future gays from getting married.

I submit that Meier's buildings, which stand in stark contrast to the historic character of the West Village, are prime examples of exactly what to do with fringe sites like this: get inventive. A little contrast is what makes our cities interesting. This is more in the spirit of Jane Jacobs than any reactionary don't-change-a-single-blade-of-grass-in-my-backyard preservation. I propose that the design get vetted by someone like Amanda Burden, someone with design taste. Pass on the cost of celebrity design to the developpers, who will pass it on to wealthy people buying apartments. Invest in the neighborhood.

Please note that none of this defense of creative neighborhood architecture applies to any Charles Gwathmey work since 1979.


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