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881 Seventh Avenue, Carnegie Hall, Certificate of Appropriateness application for renovations

WHEREAS, The building located at 881 Seventh Avenue between West 56th and West 57th Streets, known as Carnegie Hall, is a renowned Italian Renaissance Revival style concert hall and studio space, designed by the architect William B. Tuthill with consultation of Henry J. Hardenbergh, Richard Morris Hunt and Dankmar Adler, constructed in three phases between 1889 and 1897; and

WHEREAS, Carnegie Hall, a world famous mecca for music, was designated June 20, 1967 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as an individual Landmark, and was designated as a National Historic Landmark, November 6, 1964, among the earliest New York City institutions to receive such recognition; and

WHEREAS, Carnegie Hall has embarked on a major interior and exterior renovation program to continue to fulfill its dual missions in the Performing Arts and Education, at a cost of some $200 million, part of which will be funded by New York State and New York City, the remainder from private sources; and

WHEREAS, The Landmarks Committee of Community Board Five has been provided with detailed architectural descriptions, plans, renderings and historical photographs at two meetings with the applicant, one of which was on site on May 28, 2009; and 

WHEREAS, Only the exterior renovations, detailed in the attached Exhibit A, Scope of Work, were addressed since only the exterior of the building has received Landmark Designation (although some Committee members expressed their opinion that the interior was worthy of consideration for designation in the future); and

WHEREAS, Great efforts have been made to respect the intentions and designs of the  original architects and to make many of the changes as "transparent" and unobtrusive as possible by using clear glass for the new marquees, for example, as well as glass for the new elevator between the north and south towers; and

WHEREAS, The Scope of Work falls into five principal categories:

WHEREAS, Renderings, mockups and photographs have been provided to CB 5 to demonstrate that the rooftop changes and additions are only minimally visible from the public way, even as distant as two blocks away at Central Park South; and

WHEREAS, Carnegie Hall serves 115,000 people annually in its educational programs, including large numbers of schoolchildren, who will benefit from many of the proposed improvements; and

WHEREAS, The interior improvements, including backstage areas and new performance studios, which are not part of this application, but are included as part of the overall renovation plan, will enhance the institution as a world class performing arts center; and

WHEREAS, In proposing this plan, the applicant and its professional consultants have demonstrated a high degree of respect for the Landmark's architectural design, historical importance and cultural heritage; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue between West 56th and West 57th Streets, for a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior renovations in accordance with the plans and scope of work presented to Community Board Five.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 33 in favor; 4 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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