A New Building Proposed for White Street in Tribeca

Rendering of the proposed new building at White Street and Sixth Avenue, as seen from the corner of White and Church. Rendering: DXA Studio in collaboration with NAVA

Mar. 05, 2017

In the 1920s the city flattened a diagonal swath through three blocks of today’s Tribeca, paving the way for construction of the Sixth Avenue subway and a southern extension of the avenue. In the wake of that demolition, several triangular lots were left at the side of the road, some so small and oddly shaped that they were only used as parking lots for more than 70 years.

But where there is a financial will, developers find a way.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, in 2015, approved a residential building for two triangular adjacent lots, from Franklin to White streets. Now a seven-story, 10-apartment structure is proposed for a third such site, on the north side of White Street, at 6th Avenue. On Tuesday, the LPC gave a glowing approval of the bronze-and-glass-faced structure.

A plus, this is a great project, said Commissioner Frederick Bland. One of the best I've seen on first hearing ever in eight years sitting around this table.

Designed by DXA Studio in collaboration with NAVA and developed by NAVA, the proposed building plans takes “subtle cues” in color, fenestration and materials from both masonry and cast iron structures in the Tribeca East Historic District where the site is located, said DXA architect Jordan Rogove.

The exterior would be clad in bronze panels etched by acid for texture at the time they are fabricated. The building features an unusual arrangement of recessed windows that vary in size within their bays—narrower towards neighboring 12 White Street and taller and wider on each successive higher floor. The building’s entrance and a garage door is on the White Street side. There is a 3,000-square-foot commercial space—2,400 square feet at street level, 600 square feet below—also with an entrance on White Street.

Although approved by the LPC, the developers still need a green light from another city agency, the Board of Standards and Appeals (B.S.A.). While the 85-foot height of the building is within the zoning “envelope,” the overall square footage is more than the zoning allows, therefore requiring an exemption from the B.S.A. for the seventh floor. To get that variance, the developer is claiming as a “hardship” the expense of subsurface work that they say will come within 15 inches of the subway tunnel.

The Landmarks Committee of Community Board 1 had given its advisory approval of the building while calling for less clear glass, a simpler base design and a bolder cornice. But the commissioners had no such reservations. In fact, they had no reservations whatsoever, a rare occurance for a first look at a building proposed for such a prominent site.

Referring to the masonry building approved for the two triangular sites just to the south at 100 Franklin St., Commissioner Michael Goldblum remarked that the two projects could be so different and yet so well integrated into their historic context without a scintilla of sacrifice of creativity of contemporary relevance. A building that is masonry, a building that is metal.

But perhaps even higher praise came from another commissisoner, Michael Devonshire. My only disappointment, he said is that I won't be around probably in the decade when this gets designated an individual landmark.