WHAT IS A LANDMARK INTERIOR?

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) received the authority to protect interiors in 1973, through a set of amendments to the original 1965 NYC Landmarks Law, spurred by the 1967 demolition of the original Metropolitan Opera and a proposal to gut Grand Central Terminal. Since then, a total of 117 interiors have been designated in all five boroughs: 94 in Manhattan, 8 in Brooklyn, 8 in the Bronx, 4 in Queens, and 3 in Staten Island. The oldest landmark interior was completed in 1812 (City Hall), the youngest in 1967 (Ford Foundation). As of today, any publicly accessible interior created before 1985 is eligible for designation.

The definition of a landmark could hardly be broader. It must be 30 years old or older, have “special historic or aesthetic interest or value” and, in the case of landmark interiors, be “customarily open or accessible to the public, or to which the public is customarily invited,” language that derives from the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Law specifically avoids First Amendment entanglements by excluding “places of religious worship,” although many of these interiors are among New York’s finest. An interior includes “architectural style, design, general arrangement and components,” but only fixtures, and not movable furnishings.

Anyone can propose a landmark by submitting a Request for Evaluation to the LPC. Under current practice, the LPC Chair decides which sites to present to the full 11-member Commission, representing each of the five boroughs and composed of at least three architects, one historian, one city planner or landscape architect, and one realtor. After a public hearing, at which anyone can testify, the Commissioners may vote to designate the site as a landmark. All future work on the landmark – restoration, alterations, demolition – must be submitted to the LPC for review and approval.

NYSID_Logo_160pxH

CHANGING USE: THE DILEMMA OF LANDMARK INTERIORS

Wednesday, March 25, 6pm

Hugh Hardy, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; Kitty Hawks, interior designer; and Justin Davidson, architectural critic, will join New York magazine design editor Wendy Goodman in a provocative discussion about the problems faced in preserving landmark interiors in an era of changing needs and a city committed to the pursuit of the new. Register here.

RESCUED, RESTORED, REIMAGINED: NEW YORK’S LANDMARK INTERIORS

Exhibition on view at the New York School of Interior Design Gallery through April 24th. 161 East 69th Street; Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm. Admission is free. Learn more.

FIND MORE LANDMARK RELATED EVENTS @ NYC LANDMARKS50

A city-wide celebration of the the 50th anniversary of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, with many events, exhibitions, and programs staged by public and private organizations around the city. Visit nyclandmarks50.org.