Lectures and Other Events

Panel Agrees, Room for Both Preservation and Development

Conservancy President Peg Breen Introducing Panelists

Panel Discussion Members: Justin Davidson, Morris Adjmi, Richard Anderson, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Roberta Gratz, and Michael Sillerman

Moderator Justin Davidson, New York Magazine

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Roberta Gratz

Morris Adjmi and Richard Anderson

Michael Sillerman

Morgan Library Panel Discussion Post-reception

May 27, 2015
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue, Manhattan

Historic Districts do NOT prevent growth. That was the majority conclusion of the panel of experts who addressed the question “Preservation and Development: Is There Room In This Town for Both” at the Morgan Library this past Wednesday evening.

In a spirited but collegial dialogue, Building Congress President Richard Anderson, NYU Furman Center Director Ingrid Gould Ellen, architect Morris Adjmi and preservationist and author Roberta Gratz, all agreed that the City’s historic districts contained new growth and, in many cases, encouraged better modern design. Land Use Attorney Michael Sillerman rounded out the panel, which was moderated by New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson.

“There is $38 billion of development in the City right now,” Anderson said. “So, no, historic districts haven’t stopped growth.” But he added that the City Planning Department should have a stronger role in designating any future districts so that growth would not be impeded.

Gould Ellen also said historic districts are only one of many factors that influence property values and cautioned that the negative role of preservation is being exaggerated in the debate over affordable housing.

Adjmi made the case for evolving historic districts by showing several of his designs for new buildings in those areas, including the award winning 837 Washington in the Meatpacking District.

New York Magazine Critic Davidson proved to be a skillful and erudite moderator pressing the panelists with his own thoughts and weaving in questions from the audience. “Do landmark regulations make it tougher to build or is it just New York?” he asked at one point. “It’s New York.” Adjmi replied to laughter.

“I was a critic before I joined the Landmarks Commission,” Roberta Gratz said. “But I was amazed at the process when I was there. These are independent, thoughtful people and no one gratuitously turns down new development.” She added: “There is plenty of new development in historic districts right now.”

Kramer Levin partner Michael Sillerman thoughtfully presented the Real Estate Board of New York’s concerns about historic districts and emphasized the need for especially new commercial growth to maintain the City’s status as a world capitol.


“Preservation and Development: Is there room in this town for both?”

The dynamics between preservation and development are essential elements of the energy and vitality that defines New York. As the Landmarks Law reaches its 50th anniversary, the Conservancy has convened a panel of experts from the worlds of architecture, preservation, planning, and development to examine how these two forces have worked in and out of balance over the decades, and how they can both thrive as the City continues to grow and evolve.

Justin Davidson, New York Magazine

Michael Sillerman, Land Use Attorney, Kramer Levin
Richard Anderson, President, The New York Building Congress
Roberta Gratz, Writer and Preservationist
Morris Adjmi, Founder & Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects
Ingrid Gould Ellen, Director, Furman Center for Land Use and Urban Policy, New York University

We are grateful to this evening’s sponsor: Sciame Construction