Aluminum house plan gets chilly reception in Sunnyside

October 16, 2013 01:17PM

A plan to build a low-rise residential development and move the first all-metal house in America to the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District has residents up in arms.

The metal Aluminaire House would sit alongside a planned eight-unit, terra cotta structure at 39th Avenue and 50th Street, with the former open a few times a year for tours. But locals, unmoved by New Yorker magazine architectural critic Paul Goldberger’s pronouncement that the 1,200-square-foot aluminum structure is one of “the pivotal works of modern architecture in America,” turned out in droves Tuesday to a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

By the time the session was over, 54 people — 40 of them against the proposal — had delivered testimony.

The opposition, which counted City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, state Senator Michael Gianaris and state Assembly member Margaret Markey among its members, centered around concerns that the Depression-era metal house is out of sync with the architecture of Sunnyside Gardens.

But some folks threw out a few NIMBY-style threats for good measure.

“I know a little bit about graffiti and vandalism,” one resident said at the hearing, suggesting the building constructed by A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey in 1931 would enter the nabe at its own risk.

Those who spoke in favor of the structure, for the most part architects and architectural historians, spoke in favor of the building’s new home. The LPC itself didn’t get a word in edgewise, thanks to the lengthy debate, so their bit of the hearing will resume at a later date. [Curbed]Julie Strickland