Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Let's start with the good news. Today, the New York Times ran an editorial calling the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to task for refusing to hold public hearings to discuss 2 Columbus Circle, which the Times notes" is already an architectural monument, the work of a major architect, whether the commission likes it or not." The editorial goes on to say that "dooming this building without a hearing is an enormous mistake, one that seriously erodes the Landmarks Preservation Commission's purpose and whatever political independence it has managed to attain since it was first created."

The Preservation League of New York State, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund, every major preservation organization in the city, and now the New York Times. The elation was short-lived: we just learned that the NYC Department of Buildings has approved the permit for the Museum of Arts and Design to begin removing 2 Columbus Circle's facade. Right before the start of the long holiday weekend, their timing couldn't be better.

Here's what you can do:
Mayor Bloomberg clearly hasn't gotten the message yet. Your e-mails/phone calls/faxes are absolutely critical TODAY! (see contact information below.)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg212-788-3000 (phone)212-788-2460 (fax)To e-mail the Mayor, go to and type your message.

No one ever said that preservation was for the faint of heart!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tom Wolfe and Rally Help Turn Up Heat on 2 Columbus Circle

Last Thursday's (6/23/05) "Hands Around 2 Columbus Circle" rally was a hands-down success! Many thanks to all who participated in person and in spirit. This week, your hands have another assignment - get the as quickly as possible on the latest issue of New York Magazine (July 4th, 2005) and Tom Wolfe's article, "The 2 Columbus Circle Game."

This follow-up to his spectacular 2003 two-part New York Times Op-Ed piece is subtitled "Was the Landmarks commissioner a little too close to the side that wants it destroyed? A would-be savior of Edward Durell Stone's building looks at the latest, most dramatic twist in the city's preservation drama." The "twist" is the trove of e-mails obtained by LANDMARK WEST! through a Freedom of Information request (which Wolfe dibs the "Bob and Laurie Letters") between LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney and Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) New Building Director Laurie Beckelman. For an online version of Wolfe's piece, go to

To see the e-mails for yourself (and the accompanying legal papers), go to the May 17, 2005 entry on the 2 Columbus Circle timeline at

While you're online, go to the June 23rd, 2005 timeline entry to see pictures from last week's rally at 2 Columbus Circle and read statements of support by NYC Council Members Bill Perkins and Margarita Lopez. Nearly 150 supporters joined hands around the building's iconic "lollipop" base for over an hour, celebrated the World Monuments Fund's (WMF) naming of 2 Columbus Circle to its "Watch List" of the 100 Most Endangered Sites on earth and called on Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to give the building the public hearing it deserves (at long last!).

With the crowd and television camera crews looking on, Council Member Perkins announced his intention to sponsor a "People's Hearing" in July (date tba). "The refusal of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold hearings on the future of 2 Columbus Circle demonstrates a shameful disregard for the will of the people and the Commission's charter-mandated responsibility...I will Chair the "People's Hearing" to make sure the people's voice is heard on the future of this significant building."

The summer's just begun, but things are really heating up! Stay tuned...
June 21, 2005: World Monuments Fund (WMF) includes 2 Columbus Circle on its 2006 "Watch List" of the world's 100 Most Endangered Sites

First, the Preservation League of New York State listed 2 Columbus Circle on its 2003 "Seven to Save" list, then the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the building on its 2004 list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." Now, WMF places 2 Columbus Circle on a list that includes Ellis Island and the entire country of Iraq. WHAT MORE WILL IT TAKE for 2 Columbus Circle to get the public hearing it deserves?

When the world's foremost organization dedicated to preserving endangered artistic and architectural heritage across the globe identifies a New York City building as among the most threatened resources on the planet, is this good news? Yes, if it helps snap the Bloomberg administration out of its stubborn denial to grant 2 Columbus Circle even a public hearing and the chance to survive for future generations. The bad news is that the building is endangered because Mayor Bloomberg, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. Are local politics really more important than world heritage?

Mayor Bloomberg, stop stonewalling and let the people of New York speak! What better way to honor New York City's renowned 1965 Landmarks Law and the many communities working at the grassroots to protect their historic landmarks, big and small? Show us that the landmarks process can be open, transparent and democratic. Prove that preservation matters to you.

May 31, 2005: Demonstration in support of 2 Columbus Circle!
Join 2 Columbus Circle supporters for a demonstration in front of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD, the institution that just yesterday signed a contract to purchase and destroy Edward Durell Stone’s 1964 building) as museum donors gather to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition featuring the collection of Jerome Chazen, MAD’s Building Campaign Chair.

WHAT: Demonstration to show support for a public hearing

WHEN: Tuesday, May 31, 5:30 PM

WHERE: In front of the Museum of Arts and Design, 40 W. 53rd Street

WHY? Good question. Why can’t 2 Columbus Circle get a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)? Just a hearing?

With any questions, call LANDMARK WEST! at 212-496-8110 or email us at