Plans for Seven-Story Museum Inside Landmark Church Disapproved by Community Board

A rendering of the church as it would look under the Childrens Museums latest plan.

By Alex Israel

After hours of back and forth on procedure and proposed construction, Community Board 7 (CB7) ultimately voted to disapprove new plans for the former First Church of Christ, Scientist, at 361 Central Park West (96th Street), which was purchased by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) in 2017.

The museum is looking to move into the former church and fully rebuild its interior. A developer had previously tried and failed to turn the church into condos.

Completed in 1903, the church is a New York City landmark, located within the federally designated Central Park West Historic District. CMOM currently operates at 212 West 83rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

CB7’s first agenda item of the new decade was listed as a full board vote on a December resolution from the Preservation Committee to disapprove of CMOM’s initial architectural plans for the landmark building. The 78-page proposal incorporates seven floors worth of additions to fill the currently gutted building, including a workshop and performance space and rooftop terrace.

A rendering of the proposed Children’s Museum design by FXCollaborative from its first presentation.

The committee took issue with two primary recommendations: the windows and the roof. The proposed removal of the existing stained-glass windows and replacement with clear glass, plus the significant structural changes to the bulkhead of the roof were considered “not appropriate to the character of this individual landmark,” according to their resolution.

When something is disapproved in committee, typically the full board follows suit at its next full board meeting, and the presenting organization is given the opportunity to provide a new plan at a later committee meeting. Preservation Committee co-chair Michele Parker said this process was suggested to CMOM.

But rather than waiting to return to the next committee meeting with updates, CMOM and its architectural firm FXCollaborative appeared at January’s full board meeting—less than a month after committee disapproval—with a short presentation that included several modifications to the proposal.

CMOM’s updated proposal maintained the removal of all but one of the building’s stained-glass windows, but incorporated some changes to the plan for the roof that a representative from FXCollaborative described as “more in-line with the existing profile.” Compared to the original plan, the modifications both allow for more sunlight to reach the neighboring building to the north, and for the restoration of more of the original clay-tile roof on the south side, he said.

A rendering from the original proposal shows the changes to the roof. The full board presentation did not include a rendering from this angle.

Following the presentation, Preservation Committee Co-Chair Michele Parker then read a “substitute resolution”—a replacement for the one adopted in December’s committee—ultimately in approval of the plan.

CB7 Chair Mark Diller attributed the board’s urgency in decision-making (and disruption of standard procedure) to an upcoming meeting of the Landmark Preservation Committee (LPC) to discuss the proposal. As an advisory entity, CB7 is responsible to represent the community at these public hearings. “If we don’t act tonight, we could lose the ability to comment on it at all,” Diller said.

A packed room of local residents and representatives from community organizations spoke out against CMOM’s initial and current plans, reiterating outstanding concerns shared during the committee meeting centered around the windows, roof, and overall structure that they felt went largely unaddressed in the revised proposal.

The changes would still “fundamentally alter the architectural characteristics, aesthetic, and historic nature of the building,” argued one speaker, an Upper West Side resident for 38 years, to a round of applause.

Others expressed concern and confusion about the speed of the process.  “The museum needs to learn to play nice, and that means that we don’t hasten this process,” said one.

“The museum is steamrolling us,” added another.

The church as it looked last week.

Former members of the church also showed up to share their disdain for the turnover of the building to non-religious uses.

“CMOM has programs that help children smile for a day. We change lives for a lifetime,” said a woman who identified herself as the wife of one of the church’s former pastors.

Diller later noted that the question of the church’s ownership and operation was out of CB7’s control once it had been sold in 2014.

When it came time for deliberation on the resolution, CB7 largely echoed the community’s concerns about the designs.

“I don’t think a word of what we said last time was heard,” said one member.

Another felt that it would set a bad precedent to allow CMOM to remove their historic stained-glass windows. Others, including Diller, argued it would be legally irresponsible to require any private institution to maintain relics of religious iconography.

Like the public, board members also questioned the break in typical procedure. Some suggested asking LPC to hold off on discussion of the property for a month or two, while others believed that would be futile.

Four hours after the start of the meeting, the first agenda item was called to question.

The Committee’s substitute resolution to approve the plan failed, with only 13 board members voting in favor, compared to 22 in opposition and three who abstained. From there, the board turned to the committee’s original resolution to disapprove the plan. This vote ultimately passed, with 25 board members in favor, 13 in opposition, and one abstaining.

As of Wednesday, the application for 361 Central Park West remains on LPC’s agenda for Tuesday, January 14, 2019. The hearing will be open to the public at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor. Timing is currently unlisted.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 49 comments | permalink
    1. B.B. says:

      Why CM bought this barn of a building (and paid $40 million) remains a mystery. They surely should have known it would be nothing but problems getting anything done. That is why previous owner unloaded the property.

    2. John says:

      The city should buy it and turn it into a homeless center. Could probably house 200 or more folks.

    3. Melissa says:

      They’re looking a gift horse in the mouth. They’ll stall on this museum until the museum sells it to an owner with better lawyers and just has it torn down.

      • 92nd Street says:

        A Landmark cannot be removed

        • B.B. says:

          No, that is not true. First of all that would go against takings clause of USC.

          Before it finally went bankrupt Saint Vincent’s hospital entered into an agreement with Rudin real estate family to demolish O’Toole building (landmark) to put up a new hospital. Rudin family would get the old 12th street campus to redevelop into luxury condos or whatever.

          People moaned, wailed and gashed their teeth, but in end LPC backed down and granted St V’s request. They feared if things went to court St. Vincent’s was in such dire financial situation that forcing them to keep the O’Toole building as is would be seen as in violation of taking clause.

          Of course it was all moot; in end Saint Vincent’s went bankrupt, closed and Rudins got their mitts on property anyway. They sold O’Toole building to North Shore-LIJ (now Northwell) who turned it it into an urgent care facility. But Rudins got their prize, prime GV real estate that became “Greenwich Lane” condos.

    4. Pedestrian says:

      I find the rush to judgment on the matter very disturbing.
      I’m glad the full board refused to go along with it.

      As to the removal of the iconic stained glass windows, the idea that our history must be sanitized to remove any reference to the religious history of a Landmarked Building is inappropriate and, in my opinion, wrong. History must be show in in its full clothing and that includes, among other things, religious windows or statues.

      • Liifeoong UWS says:

        Why is it wrong? A museum bought the church building. Many many Muslim, Jewish, Hindu children go to the museum, along with their parents. These parents may not wish to enter a building with religious imagery, and that is thwir right.

        If it were still used as a church, then obviously it wouldn’t be ok to remove the windows.

        The windows should not be lost, but if this is not going to be used as a sacred Christian place, why keep the windows?

        • Brandon says:

          Of course it is the right of Muslims, Hindus and Jews not to look at Christian religious windows. Nobody is making them go to the Children’s Museum. The problem isn’t that the museum isn’t allowed to change the windows, it is that the museum bought a landmarked building and is upset about the landmark rules. This building may not have been the best purchase for them.

        • NotImpressed says:

          If a parent can’t recognize a piece of religious art as art and not religious propaganda, they probably aren’t taking their kids to a museum.
          Hopefully UWS parents aren’t that idiotic.

        • Adam says:

          I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THIS! not every single thing needs to be religious! This is 2020! Let’s act like that.

        • Pedestrian says:

          I have never hear of a Jewish objection to the preservation of such windows. Are we really to pretend that Christians didn’t exist or that they and their institutions played no role in the development of NYC. Is it really necessary to sanitize our history to make people of other faiths or no faith comfortable? No one is saying they must accept the faith from which the windows sprang.
          Can I then insist that any memorials to anyOther faith be removed my eyes. I wouldn’t and I shouldn’t. I enter many buildings bearing symbols and imagines that due honor to faiths to which I do not subscribe. It is the beauty of living in a multicultural society. It is unseemly that those who argue for multiculturalism want to destroy a cultural icon like this.

          History is a cloth of many colors and weaves. It’s time to stop trying to unravel it.

          As to the LPC it has a responsibility to protect this individual landmark from the Cultural Vandalism in which the Children’s Museum wishes to engage. It needs to do the move for which is was founded.

      • Bz says:

        Have you been to that big museum on 5th avenue? The one that exhibits all that religious art?
        Are you saying any secular buildings should be scrubbed of its history?

      • Reclaiming My Time says:

        The stained glass windows are not even religious iconography at this point. They are historical and architectural features of a HISTORICALLY LANDMARKED STRUCTURE. Punto. Final. End of discussion.

        Shame on CB7 Chair Diller. I resent Diller trying to give the public the bum’s rush, and ram these ILLEGAL changes through. In my opinion, he should step aside so that chairperson willing to advocate the interests of the community can guide the meeings.

    5. Jay says:

      This building is going to collapse on itself by the time an appropriate plan is found by CB7

    6. Ground Control says:

      The only thing missing from the Museum’s roof design is a ferris wheel. You would have thought they didn’t realize it was a landmark when they bought it. An enormous space inside is a dream come true for a museum but it isn’t enough. SO CM has decided it’s party time on the roof & just remove those stained glass windows which are one of the most amazing sights on the UWS. They’re landmarked. Is it really asking so much for a community organization to respect a very special landmark in the community and the neighbors who live around it? Clearly grand egos at work on this one.

    7. Paul says:

      Landmarking a building owned by a nonprofit is just plain dumb.

      Any proposal to turn the building into something useful while maintaining the general structure should be welcomed.

      • mw says:

        Completely agree, LPC goes beyond their own authority and is capricious in how they rule. The cost to maintain the original structure is likely prohibited and its better to have the structured modified and used than stand abandoned as LPC would have it.

    8. Charles D Warren says:

      The Children’s Museum is an excellent match for this landmark building, but they must respect its landmark status. no one has contested their right to gut the vast interior space, is it too much to ask that they preserve the exterior?

    9. AL says:

      Good job CB7.
      Hopefully LPC will deny the changes as well. If LPC approves such structural changes, then anyone could do material changes to any landmark building in the city.

    10. neighbor says:

      It’s great that the Children’s Museum has bought the building. It will more than double the space they have in their current facility. Features of this particular design are not good: bulkheads for HVAC mechanicals on the north side 20 feet from adjacent property and incongruous roof-top “event space”. The museum desires but does not need all these roof-top features. Many of us look for CMOM to modify further this still intrusive plan so as to preserve the historic landmark and benefit children.

    11. Uwsider says:

      Great job CB7. This building g will end up collapsing or being turned into condos when we could have had a cool cultural institution for kids.

      The CB seems like an anti democratic joke. Between capture by the bike mafia and this it seems a lot of power is in the hands of an unelected body that almost nobody in the neighborhood has heard of.

      • Neighbor says:

        Your either-or scenario is a false dichotomy. All CMOM has to do is scale back the stuff they want to put on the roof, and maybe keep more windows. They don’t HAVE to have a glassed-in event space and walkway on the roof. They will have a wonderful space for children and for their needs if they nevertheless fit their plans better to the exterior envelope of the building they bought knowing it is an individual landmark.

    12. Shacky says:

      Although the building may have some respectable history, CMOM is a pillar in the UWS and it’s perfectly fine to let them modernize. Perhaps I don’t understand the need to preserve just to preserve and I also don’t know the history of the building. We have an opportunity to blend history with updates which make sense for future generations. Let’s keep an eye in the future, not the past and allow our neighborhood to change for the good.

    13. 92nd Street says:

      The Museum needs to hire experts that can work out a plan that respects the LPC’s requirements. This is often a lengthy process. I just received a single Brick color approval from the LPC that took almost a year and over 40 samples from more than a dozen Supply Specialists. Keep in mind the the LPC is tiny and resides over thousands of Landmark buildings. This can be accomplished, but the Museum needs to come up with several options for their proposals.

    14. Ground Control says:

      Often there seems to be little understanding or awareness of the Landmarks Law in this city. The First Church of Christ Scientist is a “designated” landmark. That is the most significant granting of landmarks distinction. “In 1965, the New York City Landmarks Law was enacted in order to protect historic landmarks and neighborhoods from precipitate decisions to destroy or fundamentally alter their character. The law also established the creation of a permanent New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Commission is authorized to designate a building to be a “landmark” on a particular “landmark site,” or to designate an area as a “historic district.” The legal definition of a landmark stipulates that the building must be at least 30 years old, and have either historical or architectural merit, as determined by the Commission.” This church has been known since the 1970’s to be a designated “landmark”. The Children’s Museum has a responsibility to respect that. They are beyond fortunate to have such vast open space on the inside of the building. Yet they persist in designing a plan which destroys the landmarked roof to build a outside public walkway. Huge mechanical buildings which can be easily placed in the interior and glass boxed performance center. And adding insult to injury, removing irreplaceable stained glass windows the prospect of which have been called by every major curator a tragedy. This is not rocket science. The question is, will they respect the landmarks designation or will they dissemble a historic and cultural monument of this city for ego.

      • JacksonUWS says:

        CMOM has a world class design team and landmark consultant who likely have been carefully studying the building since they bought it – they have an excellent track record for showing respect to landmarks. Knowing FX, they have undoubtedly met with many of the most respected historians and preservationists in town – it was obvious that there is a very well thought out story to the design but the community board certainly did not provide a respectful forum for them to present the context of their design in december.
        Frankly it’s pretty remarkable that about a third of the community board voted that the proposed project is appropriate including the board chair as well as the preservation committee chairs and most if not all of the committee and this does speak to the quality and thoughtfulness of the design.
        Any modern use would need mechanical equipment on the roof and an elevator bulkhead and the location appears to be one that creates the least visibility from the street.
        Opposition seems to be primarily from those who wish it could remain a church or from neighbors who are worried that their lot line window views could become impaired – much like their buildings did when they replaced townhouses.
        NYC like many cities will have to come to terms with how to re-purpose some of these beautiful but abandoned landmarked religious structures as congregations have been shrinking. The idea that 99% of this building would be restored and returned to public use while creating more opportunities for kids to experience light and air by modernizing and celebrating this building and its history seems like a pretty big win and it seems like most of the community understands this.
        Examples of modernizing landmark religious facilities and re purposing them exist throughout the world that carry on the intent/celebrate the past but alter in appropriate and clever ways to operate currently and into the future.

    15. UWS neighbor says:

      Have you looked at the proposal available to the public and hyperlinked in this WSR article? I humbly would like to say that the vision for the space is beautiful — with windows to allow the public to to look out to the building’s beautiful surroundings and inside the museum’s activities. CMOM and its architects have big dreams to expand the horizons of youth in the city. As a lover of history, I am all for preserving landmarks. But let’s remember who the museum’s target audience is: children. We can bridge history in ways children can connect to and appreciate it. As someone who lives across the street from the site, I hope this community realizes the expansion of this museum is an amazing opportunity to invest in the city’s youth. Let’s not let it slip away from us.

      • tom says:

        exactly – drawings were easy to understand, beautiful and did not distract from historical beauty

    16. DLW says:

      The Children’s Museum is a godsend to parents of small children, a safe, contained space they can explore and learn in. They want open roof space so kids can have some fresh air to boot? Yes, please! A ferris wheel? Give it to them! The perfect is the enemy of the good. CB7 seems to be restricting modification to the point that the only entity for which it would be suited is the religious congregation that sold it because it could not afford to operate there. Take the stained glass out and display it in a religious iconography exhibit somewhere where all the precious connoisseurs who favor it over children’s safety and education can admire it to eternity. Yes, protect the integrity of landmarks (good work shutting down the luxury condos!) but not to a self-defeating fault. Use power for good, but beware its intoxication. No one leaves a pissing match un-soiled.

    17. Peggy Salwen says:

      You might want to look into exactly who is complaining about the renovation of the building. Usually the folks who shout the loudest are the ones whose view or property values are being compromised. They come up with things about the windows or Landmarking because it sounds good. But really they are worried about their view and the increase in numbers of people coming into their neighborhood. It’s not for them it’s for future generations. Shame on them.

    18. Ronnie says:

      This structure, originally built as a church, has been bought by the Children’s Museum. What a beautiful idea – with spirituality built in to its purpose -the enablement of children’s creativity and imagination. Why would a caring community object to that? And of course plate-glass windows replacing stained glass windows makes sense, letting the sunlight flood in, connecting the world outside with the inner world of children’s activities. How can anyone object to that! (Surely the original windows could be sold to a church under contruction- a win/win solution for that Congregation and that community). And finally, this property is no longer a church, it is an empty edifice about to be repurposed into something different. But it is not sacred any more. It is only stone and glass, tile and wood – materials beautifully designed and waiting to be given a new life. What better than a Childen’s Museum?

    19. Isabelle Gardner says:

      Sadly many of the people commenting on this article know little about the landmark, its significance or the landmarks law. With some of the attitudes expressed here why wasn’t a big tower built on top of Grand Central Station some years ago til Jackie Kennedy and others stopped it? I mean that would have been reasonable, right?? God bless those who struggled so hard to save that magnificent building! Or the NY Public Library which was almost destroyed by an ill-suited design by an esteemed architecture firm-until it was stopped by community activists, writers, and preservationists who lived nowhere near the Library!! Well, this church was designed by the same architects as the NY Public Library, Carrere & Hastings. As was the Frick, Grand Army Plaza, the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, the mansion the Neue Gallerie is in, etc., etc. But let’s just have a field day in decimating the exterior when there’s so much space inside to work with. Award-winning architects who attended the CB7 meeting said the mechanicals could easily be placed into the basement. The windows could remain in place as a very significant part of the landmark and some of the most beautiful of artistic stained glass of that time. Let’s not slice and dice this amazing landmark. The interior was already destroyed. Enough.

      • Linda says:

        I don’t know why Landmarks designates these buildings and then allow builders or uninformed purchasers to come behind them and basically gut them due to greed. CMOM knew BEFORE they purchased the church that the builders had been beaten by the community and forced to abandon the project so why would they purchase it and try to do even more damage than the developer. Millions of people fly to Europe daily to see amazing buildings hundreds of years old, meanwhile NYC guts all of them for a buck. Don’t buy a landmark if you want to gut it. NYC is full of empty retail spaces because the rents are ridiculous. Go buy one of those buildings. Leave the historical sites – thank God Jackie O saved Grand Central Station otherwise it was be a glass condo for those making seven figures only.

    20. Old Stones says:

      CMOM wants to take a grand and stately monument, strip it of its magnificent art glass windows under pretext of religious freedom, and top it with a playground (remember, it’s right across from a Central Park playground) and party space like one of those mini-penthouses plopped atop a mid-block 5-story walk-ups. FXCollaborative is capable of sensitive adaptive reuse but you couldn’t tell from these plans, which destroy the character of the building. Occupying a landmark is a learning opportunity in and of itself: there’s a sense of history in those old stones. Children should be exposed to more than plastic and shiny new things. CMOM is also indifferent to the needs of the community, which is a poor model for raising responsible citizens.

    21. Mai says:

      We in the neighborhood embrace the presence of the Children’s Museum at 361 CPW. It is an important institution that has been a part of many UWS families, as mine, from its inception to the present. The museum will be a welcomed addition to the area, and we trust that it will maintain the beauty and historical importance of the building, whose exterior was landmarked by the LPC.

      But changes proposed by the recent architectural plans are not in keeping with the LPC’s intent. The suggested roof height “for mechanicals” is clearly visible from Central Park as well as from all nearby streets and it fails to preserve the architectural design of the roof, its copper detailing, and the beautiful steeple. I know the building and there is ample space in the existing interior to accommodate whatever mechanicals should be required without compromising the original design.

      I seriously hope the LPC will not accept the proposed extension, and will preserve the building’s original design and integrity.

    22. Somuchnonsense says:

      I understand that those who wish this could remain a church forever or are concerned about their lot line window views may be making a lot of noise and attempting to activate their friends but everyone I know from the neighborhood – which truly seems like an overwhelming majority and includes much of the community board including the preservation committee – really appreciates the proposed design and looks forward to the building being re-purposed and restored- and returned to public use.

      A couple of nonsensical claims that keep coming up:
      Mechanicals should all somehow go in the building or even in the basement. This is very very funny. I’m sure air exchange units, emergency fire purge system fans and elevator bulk heads should go in the building and that would not only work great but be totally up to code. For those that are dense this is called sarcasm. Stop the total nonsense. This world class design team surely doesnt want anything more on the roof than is required! And any new use would require some version of this stuff to be up to code!

      Also – for the overly simplistic preservationist argument: This is not the 42nd Street Library or Grand Central in several important ways but most importantly because this is not functioning and will likely never function as the use it was built for and instead has been torn apart by past owners and has been sitting in a state of awful disrepair and abandonment for quite some time. There are many many celebrated examples of historically significant re-purposed buildings throughout europe (and even a few closer to home!) that celebrate their history, are restored and yes very appropriately updated to not hide from their new function. There can and should be intelligent debate about the details case by case but the fundamentalist argument that nothing can ever change will result in hundreds of cold dark empty religious buildings blighting the city neighborhoods, these beautiful buildings falling apart to the point of no return and the few institutions looking to positively serve our community with the ability to restore going elsewhere. Good, educated preservationists understand this balance.

      • Ground Control says:

        Sorry but the neglect you refer to or the party line that this was an empty church is not true. It last had a thriving congregation in it called the Crenshaw Church. There were often over one thousand people inside praying. The church had not been abandoned. It was unfortunately sold by the West Coast office of this church right out from under the congregation. All about money. The church however was fully occupied until it was bought by this developer who could not get the variances he needed to turn it into condos. He did however manage to demolish the interior which is tragic. The Children’s Museum would have been pleased to have had that interior. But now they’ve come up with a design that is inappropriate for the landmarked exterior. It’s silly to suggest that other repurposed landmarks have their exterior envelope denatured. In fact there are many buildings in NY that have been repurposed to be museums that did not make such outlandish additions as 4 story mechanical housings or terraces. It’s really not as complicated as the museum is making it. And also ill-informed to suggest this building is not on par with the NY Public Library whose architects were one in the same.

    23. Debra says:

      1. The CB Preservation Committee requested revisions; CMOM went directly to the CB7 meeting.
      3. They presented slight revisions that had not been distributed to the entire committee nor to the public for study. Admirably, the CB7 members rejected the application 25-13.

      1, CMOM’s presentations to the CB Preservation Committee and the CB7 are deceptive and misleading, using clever photo shots and delicate pastel drawings that belie the fact that the massive roof addition will be visible from all surrounding streets and the Park. 
      2. The neighbors largely welcome CMOM’s presence and its restoration of the church. But these neighbors are making reasonable requests that will not jeopardize the project. Defenders sometimes frame their comments entirely in terms of supporting the museum and its mission, as if those who object to the plans for the roof do not. This is sleight of hand that obfuscates and skirts the problems with the plans and disregards community concerns.

      1. There will be approximately 25% more mass on top of the former church, essentially a new building.
      2. The mockup they have constructed is readily visible from all the surrounding streets, and from Central Park. The built structure will be solid and much more imposing. 
      3. CMOM’s plans will destroy roof features (e.g., a skylight) that are an integral part of the original design.
      4. The elevator and mechanical bulkheads — massive 40 feet and 20 feet tall, and underplayed with soft pastels in the drawings –are hulks that obscure the overall balance and the roof’s architectural details.
      5. The bulkheads and performance space will visually clutter the steeple base.
      6. When the Art Deco building next door, 7 West 96, was built, its architect located a series of setbacks beginning precisely in line with the Church roof. These setbacks visually pull 7 West away from the Church’s roof, providing elegant complementary balance with the Church roof and the steeple. The roof construction will obscure the lowest of these setbacks, violating the balance that an architect in 1930 thoughtfully created.
      7. CMOM has shown no regard for the adjacent neighbors of 370 CPW and 7 W 96, whose apartments lie only 9-15 feet away, and thus will be profoundly affected by noise and loss of light.
      8. The 2 bulkheads — 40’ and 20’ solid walls — will contain HVAC and elevators. Neighbors will hear constant vibrating and humming noises.
      9. Architects at the Preservation Committee meeting and at the CB7 stated repeatedly that alternatives to bulkhead placement could be found.

      Needs vs. Wants:
      1. CMOM wants massive structures on the roof; do they need these?
      2. CMOM wants to place all the mechanicals on the roof; do they need to?

      • uwsjackson says:

        25% massing on the roof? this is just crazy made up stuff from someone who cant read drawings or worse is just falsifying facts for their narrow purpose. The drawings show about a 1500 sf enclosed area (no – not adequate for the made up galas that are not part of cmom’s mission!) , a narrow walkway and yes mechanicals that need to be located on the roof unless the building stays the abandoned falling apart cold shell that it is. as noted by others moving bulkheads and hvac units inside is a made up option even if someone who claims to be an architect says otherwise. this doesn’t take a mechanical engineer to understand. and this is a first rate design team in 2020 – they are not fabricating their photos they are computer generated and yes – the addition as altered is barely visible from anywhere – and the responsive tweaks cmom put forward make this even more the case.

        as far as design considerations when neighboring buildings were constructed – i wonder how considerate they were when they destroyed light and views of their neighbors when they were built? the hypocrisy is just so transparent and self serving. thats why the community’s support will ultimately prevail. i just hope cmom doesnt give up in the meantime. against a few loud voices they are trying to provide a world class amenity for our community and restore this gem of a building.
        not sure the relevance of the historical chaos of the church sale. they couldnt pay their bills or maintain the building and it got sold. do they want to buy it back now? have they made a credible market offer or at cost offer to cmom to buy it back that the community is unaware of?

    24. Linda Edgerly says:

      It is important, indeed vital, for and the LPC and the CMOM staff and architects to take into account several of the significant points made during the December CB7 Preservation Committee and January CB7 Board meetings. These changes in CMOM’s plan should address not just the building’s stained glass windows. LPC also should consider soundly reasoned and appropriate points on other matters that have originated with a) members of the public among whom are qualified architects, b)CB7 Preservation Committee members, and c) well informed residents of the diverse community in the neighborhood around the Carrere & Hastings building many of whom helped to save this wonderful example of NYC architecture. Numerous people agree that CMOM has the potential to be a good neighbor and owner of the building. However, the CB7’s vote this past week at the Fordham meeting is not based on stubbornness. It reinforces a need for the LPC to address and change several elements among which should be exclusion from the CMOM plan locating odd and oversized, awkward, and proportionally inappropriate “boxes” on the building’s roof, none of which is reasonable or acceptable. This is why: With a Central Park play ground and the whole of our incomparable Park literally across CPW, children visiting CMOM do not need an outdoor play and/or event area on the roof of the Museum. Also saving the building’s distinctive steeple and roof lines is not only possible, it is reasonable because, 1)space in the westerly end of the building’s spacious basement provides more than the adequate area needed for below grade elevator mechanics and 2)there is an ideally situated, below grade, secured-but-accessible space for placement of air handling/HVAC equipment on the building’s South (96th Street) side, a space that is part of the building’s original design. These obvious and rational space solutions are already available. In addition, they make it unnecessary to construct huge, ugly, out-of-proportion elevator and air handling equipment “boxes” on the roof where a)they would be visible from all 360-degree views of the building’s exterior and b)they would irreparably damage the distinctive architectural integrity and proportions of the land-marked Carrere & Hastings building. All over NYC responsible and creative architects and building engineers are employing below grade solutions that provide for elevator and air handling requirements. Indeed, they have proven that there is neither need nor excuse in buildings this size for placing huge, ugly, out of proportion mechanical equipment boxes on roofs. Admittedly CMOM needs to alter aspects of the interior and the interior needs to be equipped for educational exhibits and functions for children and for normal interior comfort levels of the visiting children and their families. It does not need to be equipped for fine art exhibits, moving ton-weight sculptures, and/or storage environments for irreplaceable paintings and/or sculpture. Please help make it clear to the LPC and the leadership, funders, and staff of CMOM that we are eager to welcome to our community a museum that is as determined as are we who live in the area, to keep unsullied the unique and irreplaceable architectural beauty of this land-marked building’s exterior.

      • Carol says:

        completely agree. It is not at all clear that the proposed rooftop addition is critical to CMOM’s mission–playgrounds are across the street as noted and elsewhere, including schools and pre-schools.

    25. Carol says:

      The proposed destruction of many of the key elements of this premier Landmark flies in the face of Landmark PRESERVATION, and the Community Board was right in rejecting the ever-so-slightly revised proposal presented last Tuesday night. Further, disingenuously the proposed revision only slightly “adjusts” the 96 st facing elements but did nothing to scale down the entire project. No views are ever presented from the point of view of those living to the West, which proposal significantly cuts down light and air flow, since the additions all crammed to the back are only about 12 feet from the adjacent building.

      Finally the community should be aware that the chimney of the former church is home to hundreds of chimney swifts during their breeding and roosting season which lasts from mid-Spring to mid-Fall. (The NY Audubon society counted 500 birds coming home to roost one night in early October.) Maintaining the chimney actually presents CMOM with a unique opportunity to expose the children of New York with the chance to see this natural phenomenon, which is truly inspiring and connect with urban wildlife–as stated by the NY Audubon Society. This could be accomplished via a bird/roost cam within the chimney, which as per the architects proposal would also be destroyed.
      As a neighbor to the former church, I was happy to hear that CMOM would be a new neighbor; however, the current proposed plans are “over the top” and should be materially scaled back and down.

    26. AJ says:

      I’m sensitive to the accusations of NIMBYism against those opposing CMoM’s proposal. But this former church is a landmark. Landmarking has been a New York City institution for many years, CMoM was aware of this when it bought the building. The design comprises clunky huge boxes on the roof that ignore the original design and destroys original roof features and building proportions.
      Furthermore, the statement that the extra space is needed for programming is disingenuous. It’s clear if you look at the plans that the added space is intended primarily for cocktail parties for wealthy benefactors.

      • w93rd says:

        It’s simply not true that the originally proposed rooftop changes/addition are visible from central park and the revised/scaled back/shifted changes aren’t visible from pretty much anywhere except a bike lane at 96th street and cpw – and of course from the lot line windows of those who are complaining non stop to any who will listen.
        Thank you to the community board chair and the preservation committee for representing your community so well by supporting the proposed design and thank you to cmom for continuing to do the right thing for the community as you always have. I and my neighbors can’t wait to enjoy all the benefits of your new facility including the small nearly invisible rooftop addition. I hope you know how much of the local community and the preservation/design community supports you and the design!

        • Marco says:

          Ah. I see you’re really well informed w93rd. The community board did NOT approve this design. They disapproved it and since then CMOM has gone back to the drawing board. I can see you have not much concern for preserving a designated landmark. Even though there were expert architects at the full board meeting as well as the one before that with the preservation committee who said it was very possible and not difficult to place mechanicals in the basement, and not do such damage to the landmarked roof. That does not mean the Children’s Museum will not get this plan right. It does mean that they are not there yet and seem to have understood that as the meeting with Landmarks has been postponed. As for lot line windows-I’d like to know how you’d feel if your living room window were to look out for 40 years on the park, but now would look out at a huge concrete metal building filling your entire window 9 feet away with mechanical equipment inside. Finding that they have little light, no view and and the vibration of what’s operating inside. What a knuckle-headed remark that someone facing their property devalued probably by 25-30% shouldn’t care. Or somehow doesn’t care about a museum coming to the community. Perhaps the museum ought to consider that other residents have rights too.

          • w93rd says:

            It is a fact that the preservation committee recommended to the board that they vote for the last proposed design – they concluded that it was appropriate. You are only correct in that the rest of the board voted it down against the recommendation of their experts on that committee and even the overall board chair’s support. And the community at large heard the preservation committee and the board’s chair and appreciate their efforts. The facts speak for themselves.
            Personally of course I obviously would not love having any views impaired in any way but i would also feel pretty foolish if i was relying on a lot line window view lasting forever. this happens all the time. And obviously the desires of 3 or 4 residents desire to preserve a view that is driven by a lot line window pale in comparison to the needs and desires of the community to help secure a world class public use who has a proven track record or knowing what they are doing.

    27. Joan Berkowitz says:

      The roof top additions are TOO LARGE. They are visible from numerous vantage points on CPW, West 96th Street and from well within Central Park. They violate all of the LPC’s guidelines for such additions.

      The new volumes may have been pushed back a bit from CPW but they remain totally visible from 96th, CPW and the park. They ruin the symmetry of the facade and obscure the historic slope, materials and detailing of the roof. The architect’s efforts to shove that huge addition in the rear NW of the site is offensive and lacks their usual creativity. They can and should do better!

      Please reduce the size, scale and visibility of the rooftop additions which greatly alter every view of this handsome historic building.

    28. Citizen of the West Side says:

      After a long and contentious fight about preserving the integrity of this landmark, the community welcomed CMOM with open arms, delighted to have new neighbors that we expected understood the restrictions of a landmark and would respect them. The objections raised have nothing to do with CMOM per se. As someone who attended both the subcommittee and CB7 meeting, it was clear at the first meeting that there were serious issues with their proposal. Yet, at the CB7 meeting, the revised plans included a few minor changes, which they submitted the board with very little time to review them. Further, they withheld them from public purview until the meeting. That’s not behavior that indicates and good faith and a desire to be a good neighbor.

      No one is asking CMOM to submit to a neighborhood-watch to redesign the building. What we are asking is that CMOM abide by the laws and respect the interests of the community. Windows are an integral part of a building and are considered part of the exterior. Just ask people who live in landmarked residences what they had to do to workaround landmark constraints when trying to upgrade the building windows. The rooftop additions change the roofline entirely, again a blatant disregard for the landmarking rules. Children don’t need a rooftop walkway with fake grass when a prized park with real grass and a playground lay in waiting across the street. And yes, the Met has a rooftop garden, but it doesn’t face the street or change the roofline of the original building.

      As an addendum, apparently some people at CMOM recognized the error of their ways. The LPC hearing has been postponed and presumably, CMOM and their architects are going back to the drawing board. Although I would love to believe that whatever they come up really addresses the concerns and criticisms, unfortunately, given their track record thus far, they have created a schism where none had existed. If they think the community is just going to give up, they will be proved wrong. These types of changes are permanent. In fifty years, CMOM may or may not still be at this location, but the beauty of the original building will be gone forever, with no legacy to teach the children of tomorrow how to be good stewards of their own history.