Guest post by David Saphier, co-chair of Lincoln Square Community Association and co-creator of 199demolition.com:
The Bloomberg administration is bringing more high rises to the Upper West Side, with threats to demolish Public School 199 on West 70th Street, as well as another local site, and replace them with luxury condo towers.
The Lincoln Square community has undergone major upheaval over the past few years, with the building of countless high rises, including the Trump Buildings on Riverside Boulevard, all of which have significantly changed the neighborhood from a close-knit, family-friendly community to something very different, a place unaffordable to many. These real-estate developments have also disrupted long-established school catchments and contributed to major overcrowding in schools. As a result, many children are forced to sit on waiting lists for their local public schools.
A while back, the DOE, through the ECF (Education Construction Fund), quietly released a Request for Expressions of Interest to developers for the development of the sites currently hosting PS 199 and PS 191 on the Upper West Side, along with a third site on the East Side. The community was not informed, and the plan as proposed is not subject to any further community, city, or state overview.
The proposed plan for PS 199 outlines the construction of a 50-story residential tower and a new school--a nice sentiment, but it will barely accommodate the additional children that will reside in the tower.
PS 199 was designed by the renowned architect Edward Durell Stone. Although it is a small building for the man who also designed MOMA, Radio City Music Hall, and The Kennedy Center, it is significant. It represents Stone's shift from the International Style to his signature style that drew from classical elements.
According to Landmark West, the school’s 166 thin, glazed white brick piers are faithful to Stone’s love of repetitive columns and are evocative of a grand colonnade. Classical patterning is illustrated in the concentric squares inscribed beneath the roof’s overhang. Stone paid attention to the smallest detail, including the roof design, knowing that the surrounding buildings would view it. The roof contains a cutout that serves as an open-air play space. PS 199 continues the neoclassical spirit of Stone’s unique form of Modernism on the Upper West Side and should be preserved in its own right.
With all of these concerns in mind, the local Lincoln Square community has formed a task force to oppose the project. Please read more details at our website. And consider signing the petition to save PS 199.