The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church is a beautiful collection of buildings and gardens between 9th and 10th Avenue & 20th and 21st St. in Chelsea. Its first building was erected in 1827.
For many years, the seminary did have one eyesore of a building, which was a 1950s-era library building on the East side of the complex, along 9th Ave. It had fallen into major disrepair, and since it had basically no architectural significance, the proposal was to replace it. At the same time, the Seminary was facing serious financial difficulties, so the hope was that the new building could be primarily residential condos in order to help shore up the institution’s finances.
But strict Landmark Protection regulations and neighborhood opposition made it a tough road for this construction to progress. The original 2005 proposal for a 17 story building was rejected by the city, as was an amended design for a 15 story building a year later. What was ultimately approved was a massively scaled-down 7 story structure which I have to say blends in very well with the neighborhood and the seminary’s existing brick architecture.
In fact, I like the new building so much that I seriously considered buying an apartment in it. And I woulda done it, too! (if only the prices were about 80% lower than they actually are…*sigh*)
Anyway, I found the picture below interesting. It pretty much sums up how old can be bridged with new. The building on the right is one of the existing structures. That on the left, the new apartment building. In the middle, you can see the underlying structural masonry of the original structure. Workers are applying additional bracing to that, putting in a replacement external brick facade, and in doing so unifying all these structures together. Well done.