They’re worried a rotten apple would spoil the bunch.
The city sent Green-Wood Cemetery back to the drawing board on its plan to restore the landmarked Weir Greenhouse in Sunset Park because a boxy building proposed for an adjacent lot would have overshadowed the glassy historic hothouse.
Green-Wood wants to return the former florist shop on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street to its 1895 condition and build a three-story educational and community space next door. But the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must approve alterations to land-marked buildings, buried Green-Wood’s plan because it didn’t like the educational center’s height and facade.
“My problem — and it’s kind of a significant one — is the building backdrop behind it,” said commissioner Frederick Bland. “The [proposed] building is just a hodgepodge of many, many, many different things.”
Landmarks are designated by city lot, and Green-Wood’s architects sited a portion of the educational center on the greenhouse’s land-marked lot — giving the commission jurisdiction over the new building and allowing it to uproot the whole plan.
“It’s a weird condition that we have control over,” Bland said.
Green-Wood’s architects will have to revise plans for the proposed educational center before returning to the commission for approval.
Representatives from Green-Wood declined to comment.
Area florist James Weir Jr. built the glasshouse — designed by George Curtis Gillespie — in 1895, according to information from the commission.
The Weir family sold to the greenhouse to the McGovern family in 1971 when the latter affixed its name to the glass dome, property records show. But the structure went to seed under its new owners, falling into disrepair by the time Green-Wood bought it in 2012. The cemetery spent the last three years shoring up the structure’s guts ahead of planned exterior renovations.
Green-Wood hired historic-restoration architecture firm Page Ayres Cowley to design the restored greenhouse and adjacent new buildings. The firm also worked on restorations at the New York Botanical Garden and the Fulton Center, according to its website.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is often a mediator between two design mentalities — shiny, contemporary design and preservationist-favored brick and stone buildings. But in this case, a new-fangled, window-heavy look would jibe well with the century-old greenhouse, Bland said.
“If there’s ever a place for a glass building — in my judgement — this would be it,” he said.