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Will Upzoning Destroy the Beaux Arts Legacy of Midtown Manhattan?

A development proposal for a 1,450 glass skyscraper adjacent to Grand Central Station prompted the Architectural Record to wonder whether New York is chipping away the "Beaux Arts heart" of Manhattan.
February 13, 2015, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to Cara Greenberg, "preservationists are dismayed about Grand Central’s future next-door neighbor to the west, which is almost certain to be Midtown’s tallest tower, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s (KPF) One Vanderbilt , a 1,450-foot glass skyscraper with an asymmetrical façade."

"Occupying the block bounded by 42nd Street, 43rd Street, Vanderbilt, and Madison Avenues, the new tower will replace several historic buildings, including the 1912, 200-foot masonry structure at 51 East 42nd Street by Warren & Wetmore, Grand Central’s architects, the last of the remaining original buildings designed to frame the station in a complementary Beaux Arts style."

But central to the possibility of One Vanderbilt achieving its desired 30 FAR, is a proposal by the New York City Department of City Planning to upzone the Vanderbilt Corridor, "a five-block stretch running along Grand Central’s eastern side," from its current 15 FAR maximum to 30 FAR. Greenberg's concern, and the concern of preservationists in New York, is that the upzoning would pave the way for more new tower development that alter the context of Grand Central Station and other historic and famous buildings in the area, such as the Chrysler Building.

If you're interested in tracking the upzoning proposal as a possible indicator for the future of the New York City skyline, Greenberg provides the following about the current status of the proposal: "At present, the proposal is in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, awaiting her recommendation; it then heads to the City Council, with final votes to be taken around mid-year."

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Published on Friday, January 30, 2015 in Architectural Record
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