LPC Approves Additional Demolition of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 at 5:08 am by

The Landmarks Preservations Commission yesterday approved additional demolition of the fire-scorched Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on Norfolk Street.

The city agency had previously okayed the prior demolition, but the development team – which includes the Chinese-American Planning Council and Dattner Architects – returned this week claiming more portions of the surviving structure were unsafe and unstable. They argued removal was necessary in order for the redevelopment of the property to progress.

According to Curbed, most of the commissioners agreed that the synagogue is destroyed beyond repair, and as such, no longer constitutes a New York City landmark. However, Commissioner Michael Devonshire asked the developers to preserve the surviving tower and the lancet window.

As previously reported in detail, the plan is to incorporate the charred synagogue remains into a larger, two-towered development. Footprint of the new project – an “intergenerational community anchored by neighborhood retail and community facility tenants” – spans the full block of Broome Street from Norfolk to Suffolk Street, and comprises both mid-rise (10 stories) and high-rise (30 stories) pieces. It’ll occupy the parking lot of the Hong Ning senior living next door (managed by CPC) and the synagogue site.

Regarding design, Dattner Architects (also involved in nearby Essex Crossing) cited potential inspirations – the James Polshek-designed entrance pavilion for the McKim, Mead, and White-designed Brooklyn Museum, as well as the Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany.

Similarly at Beth Hamerdash, Dattner pitched a street-facing, glass-enclosed vestibule, which will protect the synagogue remnants from the elements, create a new congregation entrance, as well as a museum display for surviving artifacts. The proposal also includes using the existing perimeter walls as garden walls for a new outdoor space for the synagogue. One of the two residential buildings would then cantilever over the remains.

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