Sept. 10, 2013, By Christian Murray
Sunnyside residents will be able to express their views on a proposed development that calls for the construction of eight residential units—alongside a 1931 aluminum house– within the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District this Thursday.
The plans will be presented by Michael Schwarting, an architect with Campani and Schwarting Architects, at the Phipps Apartments Community Meeting Room (51-01 39th Avenue) between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
The proposed development would be constructed on the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street, at the site of the historic Phipps playground. The residential units—which would surround the aluminum house – would be clad with terracotta-colored panels, with a brick pattern.
The plans will be presented again at the Community Board 2 meeting on Sept. 19 before going before the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Sept. 24. The community board acts as an advisory body, with the Landmark’s Preservation Commission ultimately determining whether the development can proceed.
Architect Michael Schwarting said in June that the relocation of the aluminum house (which will not be lived in) is of historical significance. The house was designed in 1931 as a case study for the New York Architectural League Show at the Museum of Modern Art—out of donated building materials, primarily aluminum.
However, opponents of the plan argue that the aluminum house is just a smokescreen used by the developer to get the other eight units built.
The plan has already met a great deal of resistance.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer wrote a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Committee voicing his opposition to it in June. “Though architecturally significant in its own right,” the letter read, “the Aluminaire House is … out of character with the neighborhood and I am opposed to it.”
Stephen Cooper, Co-Chair of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee, suggested in June that the aluminaire house – and accompanying units—were not a good fit for the Historic District. “The buildings [in the Gardens] are all essentially the same. They are brick, all two stories tall—essentially all the same look,” he said. “There is not a single aluminum house in the area.”
However, Schwarting argued that the aluminaire house “will stick out in an elegant way and it is a beautiful house of the same time period as the surrounding houses.”
Presentation of proposed 39th Ave/50th Street development
Thursday, September 12, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Phipps Apartments Community Meeting Room (51-01 39th Avenue)