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Clinton Community Master Plan

Master Plan, Zoning, and Urban Design Guidelines, 1988.

Progressive Architecture Urban Design Award, 1990.

Client: Clinton Preservation LDC

From the New York Times, 1986, by Paul Goldberger: “The Peterson Littenberg plan unusually sophisticated interworking of preservation and urban design. Instead of tearing down the old buildings on the west side of 10th Avenue - which, though not distinguished as works of architecture, collectively create a strong and evocative urban fabric on the old street - the plan proposes to rehabilitate them. Behind these buildings would rise 16-story buildings, their shapes stepped-down to meet the lower buildings in front. Private courtyards would be in the center of each complex.”

Goldberger continues: “this scheme...accommodates comfortably to the existing physical context of its block. The medium height towers connect visually to nearby mid-block buildings of similar size, they provide an ideal transition in scale from one part of this neighborhood to another, and they assure that 10th Avenue will not turn into 3rd Avenue. The plan is equally thoughtful on other blocks. It calls for much taller towers around DeWitt Clinton Park between 11th and 12th Avenues, a reminder that it does not eschew towers so much as place them on appropriate sites, and it suggests a kind of mid-block urban square and a passageway around which much of the neighborhood’s commercial activity could be located. It is the kind of mix that city planners so often proclaim is the urban ideal. At a time when virtually all of Manhattan appears to be succumbing to the pressures of gigantism and the forces of gentrification, it is not a bad idea to keep one part of town small in scale and heterogenous in its mix of uses.”

The premise of the plan, developed in close collaboration with the Clinton community residents and the Community Board, reverses many of the intentions of the original renewal plan, which involved complete clearance and new construction with no allowances for light industrial or commercial uses. It establishes a system of mid-block public spaces in addition to a new central square for the entire neighborhood. All existing residential buildings are retained and integrated with new construction.

A specific proposal for twin apartment blocks reversed New York City building norms for avenue-facing structures. The twin buildings contain 652 residential units, of which 60 per- cent are designated as low- or moderate-income housing.

Each side of the building is articulated as a unique wall, a strategy that accommodates the incorporation of existing structures.

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