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350 Fifth Avenue (Empire State Building), Application for proposed renovation of 34th Street East entrance.

At the scheduled monthly meeting of Community Board Five on Thursday, December 13, 2012, the Board passed the following resolution by a vote of 36 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, is an individual New York City Landmark, famous throughout the world, with a Designated interior lobby; and

WHEREAS, This Art Deco style office building lobby was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon and built in 1930 -1931, with the lobby walls, floors, and ceiling all "Protected" surfaces; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five approved a Master Plan for lobby renovations and certain other areas of the ground floor of the building in 2007; and

WHEREAS, The owners of the building are requesting approval of a renovation of the eastern most entrance on 34th Street which would:

1.      Enhance the prominence of the 34th Street east entry as the main entrance to the building for office tenants and their guests, in accordance with the intention of the 2007 Master Plan;

2.      Create the building's first fully ADA compliant entrance;

3.      Add to the building's egress capacity by adding two additional exits for egress purposes; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovation would replace the existing historic double opening consisting of one original revolving door and one set of non-original automatic bi-fold doors with a tri-partite opening consisting of a central revolving door flanked by two sets of balanced doors, one of which would have an automatic operator for ADA compliance; and

WHEREAS, While the current automatic bi-fold doors at this location were installed in the mid-1990s for accessibility purposes, these doors are not fully ADA compliant by today's standards and do not count as an exit for egress purposes; and

WHEREAS, In order to achieve the required 4 foot clearance between the interior and exterior doors for ADA compliance, the exterior wall of the entry would be moved outward within the existing masonry opening approximately 2 feet three inches and would be set back 8 inches from the building line (currently, the exterior entry wall is 2 foot 11 inches back from the building line), while the interior wall will remain in its existing location; and

WHEREAS, Although certain internal and external historic elements would be impacted, this project aims to retain and reuse as much historic material as possible:

1.      The vertical scalloped black granite at the center of the exterior in-fill wall would be removed and stored onsite to allow for the installation of the central revolving door;

2.      The horizontal scalloped black granite above the door openings at the exterior in-fill wall would be removed and reinstalled at the new exterior wall location, or replaced in-kind, if damaged during removal;

3.      The vertical scalloped Breccia Sistina marble at the center of the interior wall would be removed and stored on-site to allow for the installation of the central revolving door;

4.      The horizontal Breccia Sistina marble above the existing interior doors would ideally remain in place during construction or would be removed and reinstalled; however, the applicant is working with ABC Stone to identify appropriate Breccia Sistina slabs in Italy that could be purchased if the stone was damaged during construction; 

5.      The terrazzo, marble and granite flooring and pavers at the entry would be removed and replaced in-kind to match existing materials to align with the new door openings; and

WHEREAS, The new door frames and materials would match the existing historic frame at the revolving door; and

WHEREAS, The applicant represented that while other configurations for the entrance were explored, including maintaining the historic double opening, the tri-partite opening was necessary to achieve the goal of adding to the building's egress capacity while allowing the entry to maintain symmetrical; and

WHEREAS, While the other office entrances on 33rd Street and 34th Street each maintain their historic double openings with two revolving doors, the Fifth Avenue entrance historically and currently has a tri-partite entry with a pair of central swing doors flanked by two revolving doors; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five believes that the proposed renovation respects the historic fabric of the building while addressing significant egress and accessibility concerns; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application for proposed renovation of 34th Street East entrance at 350 Fifth Avenue (Empire State Building)

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