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Two Lapidus Buildings Under Threat in New York

In New York City, two rare Morris Lapidus-designed buildings hang in the balance, awaiting designation by the City’s Landmarks Commission. Located at the corner of Fourteenth Street and University Place, the Paterson Silks building has already undergone substantial alteration. The building, which was most recently a discount store called Odd Job and is currently being renovated for use as a bank, featured a distinctive glass and steel entrance tower, which was demolished at the beginning of March just as the building was being considered for landmark status. The much larger Summit Hotel, now known as the Doubletree Metropolitan, on Lexington Avenue in Midtown, features an undulating façade and 60’s retro signage. It will have its windows removed and some of its cladding changed unless the designation occurs.


Even though in New York buildings over 30 years old are eligible for landmark status, the Commission rarely steps in until a structure is significantly older. “The Commission is not prepared to landmark buildings of that age,” says Frank E. Sanchis III, executive vice president of the Municipal Art Society, one of the groups lobbying for designation. “It is a reflection of the public’s taste. The public is not yet ready to accept the idea that modern buildings should be protected.” Lapidus is best know for his highly scenographic Miami Beach hotels, and his work has received increased attention in the design community in recent years and has been the subject of several exhibitions and symposia. “There needs to be a survey of his work in the City,” says Sanchis, “He was a very well known architect in Florida, but we forget that he was a New Yorker.”

Alan G. Brake