As reported in the International Business Times, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has rejected The Save Rizzoli Committee’s and Borough President Gale Brewer’s request for an interior landmark designation. Their rationale defies belief:
“The overall interior design of the space dates to 1985, when interior elements such as chandeliers and bookshelves were installed and new cabinetry and new flooring were designed as part of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates’ redesign and transformation of the space to accommodate the bookstore. Some original interior fabric remaining from the Sohmer Piano showroom, such as the decorative ceiling and iron railings, was incorporated into the new design. Our review concluded that because there are few remaining elements from the piano showroom era, particularly in comparison with other intact interior landmark spaces like the Steinway Piano showroom on West 57th Street, the site no longer retains the integrity of its original design, and the ca. 1985 redesign of the space does not rise to the level of an interior designation.”
As can be clearly seen from this photograph taken circa 1920, the overall first floor design of the space clearly does not date to 1985. The most architecturally significant details of the Sohmer store—the vaulted stucco ceiling and ornamental capitals—still survive in pristine condition.
In 1984, Hard Holzman Pfeiffer Associates renovated the space, most notably, by adding a new glass storefront entrance, a staircase linking the 2nd and 3rd floors, and a balcony extension around the west side of the mezzanine. These additions do not significantly impair the original Sohmer ground floor interior. To deny interior landmark status on the basis that the floor tiles and the chandelier are not original is beyond preposterous.
In refusing to hold a public hearing on this building–despite the overwhelming pleas from the community board, elected officials, and the public–the Landmarks Preservation Commission has failed in its duty to protect these architecturally and historically significant buildings.
It is now apparent that LPC Chairperson Robert Tierney, whose term will soon expire, is the sole obstacle to protecting this landmark-worthy building. The Save Rizzoli Committee would like to strongly urge Mayor de Blasio to appoint a new Chair who will listen to the community.
To write to Mayor de Blasio requesting he quickly appoint a new Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair, please go here.