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188 Madison Avenue - B. Altman & Company Department Store Building, Application to install a new entrance and marquee on East 34th Street, and to add new signage on East 34th Street and Madison Avenue

WHEREAS, The B. Altman & Company Building, located at the northeast corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, encumbering the whole block bounded by 5th Avenue, East 34th Street, Madison Avenue and East 35th Street, is a distinguished design by Trowbridge & Livingston, built in 1905-06 in the palazzo style, as the new flagship department store for B. Altman & Company; and

WHEREAS, The building was designated an individual landmark in 1982 by LPC; and

WHEREAS, The east portion of the building, is home to the SIBL (Science, Industry and Business Library), while the west portion of the building is occupied by the CUNY Graduate Center; and

WHEREAS, The applicant, MoPop, the Museum of Popular Culture, founded in Seattle in 2000, will take over SIBL when its lease expires in 2019, to launch its New York presence in this location; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is proposing alterations to the façade to accommodate the new use:

WHEREAS, The proposed alterations, while some are deemed acceptable, raise concerns that they are extremely intrusive, overwhelming and non contextual to the building; and

WHEREAS, The proposed Lucite marquee would project 14 feet over the new entrance at East 34th Street, and would be extremely modern, with letters forming the name of the institution popping out the full length of the marquee; and

WHEREAS, The new entrance, made out of glazing, is extremely modern; and

WHEREAS, The proposed signage, large banners and flags, is overwhelming and distracts from the dignified elegance of the façade; and

WHEREAS, The arched banner blocks views of the historic bay details; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by MoPop, the Museum of Popular Culture, for alterations, unless the marquee projected size is reduced, and the proposed arched banner is removed, even while we praise the arrival to our district of the new MoPOP museum and the great activation of the street that the museum will provide.

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