Testimony By New York State Senator Duane Before The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Regarding The Granting Of Landmark Designation To University Village/Silver Towers

Thomas K. Duane

June 24, 2008

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York State's 29th Senate District, in which University Village/Silver Towers is located. Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today.

I wrote a letter to LPC in support of this designation in 2003, and I would like to express my appreciation to LPC for moving forward with the consideration of this proposal. Located at 100 and 110 Bleecker Street and 505 LaGuardia Place, the buildings that make up University Village/Silver Towers were designed in 1966 by I.M. Pei, one of the era’s most celebrated architects. Their unusual superblock design truly represents an important moment in the evolution of Pei's work and modern design as a whole. The placement of these buildings within the surrounding landscape and streets is both unique and marvelous. The buildings are an excellent example of cast-in-place architecture, a form that is rarely used anymore. These are stylish, visually-arresting buildings that carefully relate to the neighborhood around them.

I believe that it is especially important not only to landmark the University Village/Silver Towers buildings, but also to landmark the surrounding buildings and the carefully planned landscaping, outdoor sculpture and outdoor furniture. Included in Pei's design is a monumental plaza which contains a sculpture reinterpreting Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Sylvette. The resulting Sylvette was created on the premises by Picasso’s some-time collaborator Carl Nesjar. The sculpture is an important piece of work in its own right, as well as an integral part of Pei's design. In order to preserve Pei's unique vision and the feel of the superblock design, it is imperative that the landscaping, outdoor furniture, pathways and the facades of the buildings are protected in the future.

You will hear near unanimous support today for this designation not only from me but also from other area elected officials, preservationists, architectural associations, community organizations, civic leaders and ordinary citizens. I urge you to heed our call for this designation and for your consideration of the additional surrounding area.