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Preservationists Excoriate New Windows Being Installed At NYU Dorm

NYU Logo - File / Photo: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

NYU Logo (credit: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 04/24/13 10:50 p.m.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was furious Monday over the new windows being installed at a high-rise New York University dormitory now under renovation.

But the university said the new windows are actually consistent with the architectural integrity of the building, and are more energy-efficient.

NYU for some time has been in the process of renovating its Brittany Hall dormitory, at 55 E. 10th St. just off Broadway. The building is set to reopen in the fall of 2013, when it will once again house about 575 college freshmen, 15 resident assistants, and a handful of staff members.

The university described the structure as a “beautiful and historic building” with an assortment of amenities, from a piano room and dance studio to a darkroom and the Rhodes Room performance space.

But in renovating the 15-story building, the preservation society accused NYU of “destroying a small, but important, piece of the Village’s architectural heritage and character.”

The tower was constructed as an apartment hotel in 1929, directly across the street from the landmark Gothic-style Grace Church, which dates to 1846, the society said in its “Off the Grid” blog.

Among the Gothic elements were multi-pane casement windows, “which add rhythm to the façade and reflect the details of the Gothic style,” the society said. But the casement windows are now being replaced by single-pane windows, in an act the society called “architectural butchery.”

The society claimed the original multi-pane casement windows were replaced with new ones of a similar design a few years ago. But now, the society said, those windows are being removed and replaced with the single-pane windows, which the society disparaged as looking “like they were made for a spacecraft, or at best, a suburban office park, rather than a pre-war Gothic tower.”

But no regulation can prevent NYU from swapping out the windows, as the area is not part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the society said.

The society said it has written to NYU President John Sexton to urge the university to reduce course and use “appropriate” windows for the renovation.

But NYU had a far different take on the renovation project. The university said all single-paned windows are being replaced with energy-efficient double-paned windows, which are “consistent with New York City’s Energy Conservation Code as part of the university’s larger sustainability agenda,” spokesman Philip Lentz said in an e-mail.

The university also contested the preservation group’s claim about the replacement of the original multi-pane casement windows.

“While some of the single-paned windows have been replaced on an as-needed basis in recent years, the renovation involves the first overall replacement of the building’s windows in several decades,” Lentz said.

Further, he said, “While the building is not in an historic district or a landmarked building, the new windows will contain frames that respect the architectural integrity of the building.”

The purpose of the renovation at Brittany Hall is the need to install fire sprinklers, Lentz said. He added that more than 60 NYU buildings are, in fact, located in historic districts, and “the university devotes considerable resources to protecting their historical integrity.”

Do you think NYU should stick to the historic window design? Leave your comments below…