A Modern Mansion Proposed for North Tribeca Historic District

Rendering of a five-story, single-family home, the concept of artist Maya Lin and architect Bill Bialosky, that is proposed for the corner of Hubert and Collister Streets. Rendering: Maya Lin Studio/Bialosky + Partners Architects via Tribeca Trib

Jan. 20, 2016

An urban mansion is coming to northern Tribeca.

At five stories and nearly 20,000 square feet (including the basement), the family of five’s proposed home at 11 Hubert St. would rise 70 feet at the corner of Collister Street. Clad in metal, glass and limestone, it would be two stories taller and far showier than the plain stucco, mixed-use structure that it will be built upon.

The floor plans call for 11 bathrooms, five bedrooms (including two guest rooms), a dog room, separate prep and catering kitchens, wine closet and two bars, screening room, his-and-her studies, fully landscaped courtyard, 5,000-square-foot sports and fitness center in the basement, and a garage. The roof would be topped by a curvy trellis of solar panels.

The building is designed by Maya Lin, best known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her collaborator is architect William Bialosky, a Tribeca resident who has worked on projects with Lin for more than 30 years. (“She does the aesthetic part of the design, reviewing it with me,” said Bialosky. “I figure out how to build it.”)

Located in the Tribeca North Historic District, the building still needs the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

As for the cost, it is yet to be determined but “we’re trying to be in the $15 million, $16 million range,” said Bialosky, who would only identify the owner as “a successful [native] New York businessman who, amazingly enough, is not a banker.”

“He’d like to be a little anonymous if he possibly can,” Bialosky added. “It’s hard when you spend that kind of money.”  

Last week, Bialosky presented the plans to Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee, which is advisory to the Landmarks Commission. Most of the members said they liked the building’s design, but were less than enthusiastic about seeing it in Tribeca.

“This could be beautiful somewhere else,” said committee Chair Roger Byrom. “But I’m commenting on what my sense of place is for that historic district. For me, that modern addition doesn’t contextually feel comfortable.”

“This is a major corner in a major neighborhood and I don’t think it’s there yet,” said committee member Alice Blank, who argued that the design lacked “conscientiousness to its height, to its texture, to its detailing.”

“Lower it and make it a little more contextual,” said committee co-chair Bruce Ehrmann, summing up the comments of the committee, who asked Bialosky to return next month. “We appreciate your originality.”

In a telephone interview later, Bialosky insisted that the new home does fit into the neighborhood, and blamed himself for failing to convince the committee of it.  

“The comments that really hurt were hearing people saying they don’t think it’s contextual, and that means I didn’t present it correctly,” he said. “We think this building, from its massing and scale, fits nicely into that block.”

Bialosky said that on the next go-round he will adjust the building’s height, or possibly make it look less tall by the use of different materials. But he remains loyal to the modern design.

“We are very committed to making a 21st century, forward-looking building that belongs to Tribeca,” Bialosky said. “That speaks to new context, not just old context.”