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Foster forced to redesign New York skyscraper

Norman Foster's controversial proposals to build a 22-storey tower on top of a historic gallery building in New York have been sent back to the drawing board.

The high-rise development on Madison Avenue, in Manhattan's Upper East Side, came in for heavy criticism from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and was branded, among other things, 'inappropriate for the site'.

At a meeting yesterday (pictured), commissioners told Foster he would have to redesign the scheme for an elliptical skyscraper above the existing 1950s Modern-style Parke-Bernet Gallery if he wanted to get the project approved.

Because the proposed scheme, which is being backed by developer and art collector Aby Rosen, is in a historic district it will need to secure the support of the LPC before it goes to the city's planners.

Although Foster's designs were hailed as a 'masterpiece' by some of the commissioners, it was felt that the towering development was in the wrong place and would set an unwelcome precedent for the area which is predominantly low rise.

It was also argued that, unlike the Hearst Building, where Foster has successfully built a skyscraper on top of an existing, historic base, the Parke-Bernet was never viewed as a plinth for a high-rise development above it.

Commissioner and clergyman Tom Pike added that, as an expert in marriage there were occasions when intended nuptials made him nervous and that 'this is one of those times'.

Following the meeting, Rosen confirmed the designs would be 'completely altered' and that there could be a move from a pure glass skin to using more masonry.

by Richard Waite

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