Rooftop Redo on White Street

Mock-up structures show visibility of elevator bulkhead and cooling tower, seen from Franklin Alley. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 01, 2013

Plans are afoot to put a penthouse atop 60-66 White Street, a trio of cast-iron buildings that have barely been altered since they were built in 1869. The project, part of a conversion and restoration of the structures that now house commercial tenants, would convert two of the buildings into residential condominiums; the third would remain an office building.

The one-story penthouse, set back, would not be seen from the street. But the same cannot be said for what was proposed to sprout from the top. Three elevator bulkheads, housing the mechanicals for elevators going to the second floor of the duplex penthouse, would rise 10 feet above the roof. Two cooling towers, each 18 feet tall, would also be added.

Last month the project came before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which told architect Garrett Gourlay to bring it down.

“The roofscape is abysmal and every effort should be made to reduce it,” said Commissioner Michael Goldblum, who expressed bewilderment about the height of the protrusions.

“If this is the machine room of an elevator that’s not going to the roof’s surface I don’t believe that’s right. Usually it’s four feet above the roofline. Please check it.”

“I’ll double check it,” Gourlay replied.

Earlier in the month, the project came before Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee for advisory approval. The committee liked much of it but was also riled by the roof. Gourlay acknowledged that the visible structures would be a “hard sell” but, he said, “we tried to get to the minimum that we could.”

Well, not quite, according to committee chair Roger Byrom. Upon questioning, Gourley said the bulkhead could be 10 feet lower if the elevator stopped on the fifth floor rather than go to the penthouse a floor above.

“It’s a duplex,” Byrom said. “They can walk up.”