By Steven Spinola
One way to ensure that New York City is prepared for the future is to embrace our rich history.
New York is very fortunate to have access to a vast array of museums, some of which have been in existence since the 19th century.
Not only do our museums hold tremendous cultural and educational value, but they are also a large part of our city’s character, allure for tourism, and quality of life for its citizens.
101 years ago, Carrére and Hastings, one of New York’s oldest and most notable architecture firms, erected the home of Henry Clay Frick. This building soon became the Frick Museum, and is an excellent example of an institution which has helped preserve New York’s history throughout the years.
During that time, the Frick established a plan to connect its Frick Art Reference Library to its Fifth Avenue institution, but could not afford to follow through with the plan at the time, creating a private garden on the expansion property in the meantime.
Today, the time has finally come for the Frick to complete the plan it envisioned decades ago. Unfortunately, this means earning the ire of its neighboring residents, many of whom have grown attached to the view of the garden. (The garden is not open to the public.)
However, there are numerous benefits with the Frick’s plan — not just for the museum, but for New Yorkers, tourists, the environment, and the continued preservation of the city’s history.
First, the plan does not simply mean the loss of a garden – it instead calls for a new, public garden to be placed atop the new building.
In exchange for a simple view of a garden, neighboring residents and visitors to our city will receive a garden they can actually visit, which is an overall improvement to a purely visual one.
Additionally, rooftop gardens are more environmentally friendly, as they remove heat from the air, reduce roof surface and surrounding air temperatures, act as insulators for the building, and reduce energy needed to provide cooling and heating.
The Frick’s plan will result in the opening of the original mansion’s second floor for the first time as a new gallery space, the creation of a dedicated special exhibition space on the first floor, the upgrade and expanding of conversation labs, and more.
It will also lead to the creation of classrooms and a larger auditorium for educational programs and concerts.
Other benefits include keeping up with increased tourism. Since 1990, the Frick has seen an increase of 38 percent in attendance, as well as increases in the size of its collection, amount of educational programming, and exhibitions per year.
As an institution which purchased land in anticipation of this growth several years ago, we need to permit the Frick to use their space in a way that is appropriate to its existing status as a New York City Landmark.
Ultimately, while having a view of a garden is a pleasant amenity to living nearby, it is important to allow our vital cultural institutions to grow, especially when that growth is a direct necessity in preserving our rich history and improving our environment.
We hope the Landmark Preservation Commission will approve an appropriate plan for the Frick’s proposed expansion and enable the museum to take the next step in its own impressive history.
IN OTHER REBNY NEWS
Submissions for Retail Deal of the Year are due on April 2 by 5 p.m. Be sure to check the official contest rules at rebny.com, and for more information contact Desiree Jones at DJones@rebny.com.
REBNY’s next Residential Rental Clinic Seminar, “Pitching Landlords and Developers For Exclusive Listings,” is on April 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Mendik Education Center! Registration is required for this free seminar available to REBNY members only, which will feature speaker Karla Saladino of Mirador Real Estate. For more information, visit REBNY.com or contact Yesenia Dhanraj at YDhanraj@rebny.com.
The Residential Upper Manhattan Open House Expo is May 2 & 3 this year, REBNY is combining its annual open house expos into one exciting, all-inclusive weekend, during which attendees will be able to view exclusive condo, co-op, townhouse, and high-end rental listings in Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and Hamilton Heights! For more information on attending this lively event, contact Desiree Jones at DJones@rebny.com or Jeanne Oliver-Taylor at JTaylor@rebny.com.