Architect to Landmarks Commission: “save this jewel of a building”

Dan Allen-200Preservation architect Dan Allen adds his voice to those calling upon the Frick to withdraw its plan. In a letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, he asks: “Why must we sacrifice the wonderful unique experience of visiting this grand elegant free standing house to view a remarkable collection of art? Why can’t we explore other alternatives that serve the needs of the institution without destroying the very idiosyncratic feel of the museum that makes it the marvelous place that it is?”

Read the full text of Mr. Allen’s letter below.

 


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11 February 2015

Chair Meenaksi Srinivasan
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, Ninth Floor North
New York, NY 10007

re: The Frick Collection

Dear Chair Srinivasan,

Let me add my voice to the many concerned New Yorkers who are urging the Commission to deny the proposed expansion of the Frick Collection. From the early conversion to a museum and later additions to the masterful design and placement of the Russell Page garden and the John Barrington Bayley and Harry Van Dyke designed reception hall, the story has been a happy one of accommodating change while maintaining the special experience of the Frick. The proposed massive institutional addition and the loss of the garden and reception hall are not in keeping with this sequence of sensitive interventions and I urge the Commission to use its mandate to preserve exactly that remarkable experience.

My underlying questions about this proposed project are these; why does everything have to be institutional and homogeneous? Why must we sacrifice the wonderful unique experience of visiting this grand elegant free standing house to view a remarkable collection of art? Why can’t we explore other alternatives that serve the needs of the institution without destroying the very idiosyncratic feel of the museum that makes it the marvelous place that it is?

I think the answer to all of these questions is that we can achieve what the institution wants and still save this jewel of a building as the gift that it has been to all New Yorkers. Other options should be investigated including the relocation of some of the functions envisioned in the plan off site. Adaptive reuse of the gallery buildings on the block, at least one of which is currently for sale, could result in a situation where we all win. If we are smart and sensitive we can continue the happy story of responsible change and not lose what we have.

 

Very truly yours,
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Daniel Allen, Principal
CTA Architects P.C.
io/DJA

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