1 East 70th Street & 10 East 71st Street: The Frick Collection and Art Reference Library
Individual Landmark–Upper East Side Historic District
A French Louis XVI style mansion designed by Carrere & Hastings and built in 1913-14, and altered by John Russell Pope in 1931-35; an Italian Renaissance Revival style art reference library designed by John Russell Pope and built in 1931-35; a Beaux-Arts style reception hall addition designed by Bayley, Van Dyke, and Poehler and built in 1977; and a viewing garden designed by Russell Page and built in 1977. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions; install barrier-free access ramps and windows; and reconstruct the garden.
CB8 Hearing: 05/14/18 (Accessibility modifications: Approved, remainder of application: Disapproved)
LPC 05/29/18 (No Action)
LPC 06/26/18 (Approved)
FRIENDS’ Testimony: After a period of reflection, the Frick Collection has returned with an expansion plan that upholds many of the jewel box qualities that make this an extraordinary building on the Upper East Side, and a cherished institution, inside and out, in New York City. FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts thanks the Frick for its continued outreach, and for sharing the project plans with our Board of Directors early in this process.
Overall, the Frick’s plans convey a thoughtful approach to expansion for this museum which offers the unique experience of viewing a cohesive collection of art within a Gilded Age mansion. The proposal conveys a complex understanding of the Frick’s institutional goals, as well as its programmatic and functional needs. In particular, we applaud the opening of many of the second floor rooms as gallery spaces which will reinforce the concept of the museum as a home, while the new, more gracious reception, expanded visitor services, below grade auditorium, and accessibility upgrades will significantly improve the flow of visitors who come to enjoy the Collection.
On the exterior, FRIENDS finds the glass and bronze link building to be an intelligent deferential solution to connect the museum and library, as well as offering dedicated spaces for educational programs. The proposal also capitalizes on underutilized space at the rear of the library and makes deft use of the existing reception pavilion to create new interior spaces, and we commend the project team on the intricacy of the thinking behind these designs.
FRIENDS fully supports the goals of the institution and much of FRIENDS’ board supports the proposal submitted by the Frick. Others support the intent while raising the following points.
We question whether the visual impact of the two-story addition over the music room reaching a height of 77 feet might be reduced, particularly from the iconic 70th Street vantage. This is referred to as the conservation building, yet the proposed section shows mainly administrative space with one north-facing studio devoted to conservation. Though not an interior landmark, we also lament the loss of the John Russell Pope-designed music room.
We understand the Frick is studying how Russell Page’s innovative tree plantings in the north wall of the garden might be included in the plan. We would support such a revision, which would restore a sense of balance to the garden while helping to minimize the bulk and somewhat commercial feel of the library addition. In addition, the preliminary nature of the plans, which include significant details still under refinement, and the lack of mockups gives us pause.
The Frick is a unique mansion in an urban setting – a cherished National Historic Landmark, individually-designated New York City landmark, and a significant presence as part of the Upper East Side Historic Districts. FRIENDS believes in the Frick Collection’s expansion and this well-considered approach for its implementation. We simply ask that the Commission take care in considering a design that not only serves the museum, but also upholds the integrity of this gem in our neighborhood.