The approval did not come without the HPC expressing some concern about modernity and differentiating between old and new. Rector observed that the portico proposed for the entrance to the library on State Street "looks very classic not modern." Architect for the project, Vincent Benic explained he didn't want to have "a completely modern intervention" or to have this entrance compete with the original entrance to the building on North Fifth Street. He added that the more classical design of the portico "suited a library function."
The design for the new addition to the building, to be constructed on the footprint of the 1957 garage, has changed since the plans were first presented to the community in December 2012. The element that echoed the turrets of the original building has disappeared, and a parapet with a cornice has been introduced.
The design for the addition drew some criticism from the HPC. Concerned that there might be confusion about what was old and what was new, HPC member Phil Forman asked if they had considered "a more aggressive approach to differentiation." Winnie Moy, Benic's associate, explained that "putting a really modern addition on the building would take attention away from the original building." Benic added that they wanted to make sure the building, with the addition, was viewed "in terms of its totality."
Thompson commented that the design for the addition "seems to be taking architecture from a different period--a 1930s civic building." He questioned the introduction of a cornice "that exists nowhere else." Moy responded, "It's corbelling, and that appears on the drill shed."
Although Thompson, Forman, and Rector all expressed concerns that the portico and the addition were not modern enough or differentiated enough, the HPC made no requests for changes, as they had with the elevator tower proposed for the Hudson Opera House. In supporting the approval of the design for the Armory, Forman addressed this apparent inconsistency by saying that the original design proposed for the elevator tower, which "let the tower mirror the iconic building," was "a tremendous missed opportunity" to differentiate new construction from old. He then dismissed concerns about the portico proposed for the library entrance by saying that it "comes down to a matter of choice or taste."
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