THE AEOLIAN BUILDING, 689-691 FIFTH AVENUE (A/K/A 1 EAST 54TH STREET), APPLICATION FOR REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT OF GROUND FLOOR STOREFRONT
WHEREAS, An application has been submitted to The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission seeking permission to remove and replace the ground front storefront of The Aeolian Building, located at 689-691 Fifth Avenue at the northeast corner of East 54th Street; and
WHEREAS, The Aeolian Building, built in 1925-27 by the James Baird Construction Co. to the design of Warren & Wetmore Architects, is a fourteen story commercial building in a Neo-Classical style with French Renaissance style detailing; clad in Indiana Limestone, Italian Marble spandrel panels, and a buff-colored terra-cotta upper portion; and
WHEREAS, In 1984, Paul Goldberger of The New York Times described the Aeolian Building as "a lyrical gem that may be the city's most inventive merging of modern commercial design with French and classical architectural detail... as good a reminder as New York has that architecture can be exuberant and fanciful yet discreet and well-mannered"; and
WHEREAS, On December 10, 2002, The Aeolian Building was designated as an individual Landmark by The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; and
WHEREAS, 689-691 Fifth Avenue was the headquarters of The Aeolian Company, a leading manufacturer of roll-operated instruments, until 1938, and since 1930, this building had been location of the flagship Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon; and
WHEREAS, Throughout the years, the building has been operated by several different owners, and there have been modifications to the ground floor storefronts, accommodating varying usages for retail tenants, including a 1938 remodeling by the architect Robert Carson for an I. Miller & Son's shoe store, and subsequently the travertine clad façade installed in 1970, designed by Ernest Castro of Weisberg Castro Associates for Gucci; and
WHEREAS, At this time the applicant proposes to remove the existing Moderne styled travertine clad façade and to replace this with a more Neo-Classical styled façade composed of Indiana Limestone pilasters and a Deer Isle Granite watertable; and
WHEREAS, The applicant is also proposing to install rectangular glass and steel canopy above the entrance and lobby of the office building, located at the extreme east of the East 54th Street side of the building; and
WHEREAS, Within the interior of the proposed modified building entrance, it has been proposed to include an illuminated feature wall; and
WHEREAS, There has been some expressed preference for a rounded, highly decorative canopy on East 54th Street, similar to the one which The Aeolian Company showroom had in the 1930's, and likewise, there has been some expressed concern that the proposed illuminated feature wall seems to be a contrast to the building's Neo Classical and French Renaissance style detailing; and
WHEREAS, Despite these concerns, it appears that the proposed new storefront would be much more harmonious with the existing historic fabric of the richly detailed building above; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application for permission to remove and replace the ground front storefront of The Aeolian Building, located at 689-691 Fifth Avenue.
The above resolution passed by a vote of 33 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining.