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Third time lucky for Foster on Madison Avenue

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Foster + Partners has finally won approval for its proposed extension above the historic Parke-Bernet Gallery in Madison Avenue, New York

After almost three years, and at least three different schemes, the practice has secured the backing from the city’s influential Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for its addition to the gallery in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Foster + Partners had originally drawn up plans for a 22-storey elliptical tower (pictured below) on top of the existing block – but those proposals were sent back to the drawing board in January 2007 following criticism from the LPC.

The practice came back with a much-reduced, five-storey, bronze-clad scheme in mid-2008, which was also rejected.

However, after a series of tweaks, including shaving off a storey and lightening the exterior cladding, the LPC voted to approve the designs.

Project backer, developer, art collector and principal of RFR Holding Aby Rosen, said: ‘I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate that you can build with distinction in an historic district if you respond responsibly and work collaboratively with the Landmarks Commission. 

‘The Commissioners’ vote today demonstrates their confidence that RFR’s dedication to architectural integrity and the highest quality of materials will produce an exemplary result for the neighbourhood and for the city.’

Previous story (19.05.08)

Foster redesigns Madison Avenue extension

Foster + Partners has unveiled its redesigned proposals for an extension above the historic Parke-Bernet Gallery on Madison Avenue, in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, New York City.

The new scheme is significantly smaller than Foster’s original plans for a 22-storey elliptical tower (pictured below), which was sent back to the drawing board in January last year (AJ online 17.01.07) following criticism from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

Backed by developer and art collector Aby Rosen, the latest design is a ‘less visible’ bronze-clad block, and is a clear attempt to appease the detractors of the initial plans – branded ‘inappropriate for the site’ by the LPC.

Rejecting the first scheme, the commission successfully argued that the 22-storey skyscraper would set an unwelcome precedent for the area, which is predominantly low rise, and that the 1950s Parke-Bernet Gallery was never intended as a plinth for a tower above it, unlike Foster’s award-winning Hearst Building.


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