Dedicated to the preservation of New York City's historic landmarked West 70th Street and
protection from the incursion of an inappropriate condominum tower at the Shearith Israel Synagogue site.

Home | History | Proceedings | Transcripts| Drawings/Renderings | Model Photos | Perspective | Archives | Zoning | Resources | Landmark West | Addresses/Links
| 2003 Web Site
|*** 2007 BSA Documents*** | Abbreviations and Jargon | Important Topics
Drawing and photographs of models submitted by the Congregation to LCP 2005

north model

nw model

The model presented shown at the November 15, 2005 Board Meeting (and also shown at to Community Board 7) shows a building inset from the property line, although the plans show a building flush. This model thus understates the impact of the building.

When we made the photo above at the November 15, meeting, the architects did not seem happy to have the model photographed - perhaps it was because it was not a fair representation.

north elevation

congnparkperspectivecong mid block


New: Synagogue's Architect Sam White readily admits that the top of the proposed building will be able to be seen from "a great many" places. Audio Clip from November 15, hearing. (you may need earphones for this.) Basically, this is a fair warning from an ethical architect - however his client may wish to downplay the impact of the building and cherry pick perspectives, the building will have a major impact.

How a building impacts a neighborhood cannot be understood from the traditional flat elevations prepared by architects. These elevations are typically scale drawings from each side of the structure. A technical sightline directly across from a building can be misleading and can result less than satisfactory results. [See the chimney photos at the end of this column, where clearly improper roof top construction was allowed directly across the street from the Synagogue.]

Architects will also prepare scale models of the building and surrounding neighborhood, and importantly will prepare 3-dimensional perspectives, from various points around the structure. Perspectives are essential, but, perspectives themselves are capable of distortion. The field of view, eye level, and the location of the viewer are all able to be distorted. Modern computer design programs make the preparation of perspective much easier - if the architect wishes to expose the design to that analysis.

Perspectives can also be affected by the contrast in color between the structure and the surrounding buildings.

The Congregation did not present perspectives with its application in 2003 and did not present perspectives with its August, 2005 application. Anyone in real estate development knows that when a building proponent omits perspectives, something is being concealed.

At the Community Board Committee hearing, speakers complained about the lack of perspective drawings. The October 6, 2005 Community Board resolution states:

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT MCB7 requests that sightlines from the public way, Central Park, and the neighboring buildings be provided to it and all other interested parties ..."

At the November 15, 2005 hearing, the Congregation stated that the Commissioners had been provided with perspectives and sightline drawings. These were not distributed to the public and were not on the large boards. After the hearing, the anonymous photographer sneaked photos of a sketch that was on the conference table where a Commissioner was sitting and also sneaked photographs of the scale models. The scale models are themselves revealing as to the bulk.

Predictably the perspective captured by the anonymous photographer clearly was prepared by the architect to minimize the impact of the structure, So, presented here are perspectives made from actual photographs of the site, using the front elevation that was prepared by the architects.

Every effort was made to be accurate, but, the burden of providing meaningful perspectives is one to be borne by the developer and architect. Let them prepare their own from these same locations, and show the building and sky in different colors.

As the architects noted, a perspective directly in front of a building will not inform the viewer as to what can be seen from different angles.


Below, one can see how, from an angle, A recently constructed chimney at 21 West 70 street, across from the Synagogue, glaringly breaks the brownstone roofline. This was either a result of misleading technical sightline submitted by the property owner or, who knows, it may depend on who you are.


Composite Photographs and Perspective Prepared by opponents.

park with

Note: in the drawing above the setback for the penthouse is not shown. This perspective is from the park side of Central Park West.

from park