Everything You Need To Know About Windows and NYC’s Landmark Preservation Commission

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The New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) is the largest municipal preservation agency in the United States. Windows play a major part in the LPC as they comprise the majority of the surface area of a building’s primary facade. Below we have broken down the requirements and the application process for repairing and replacing windows in a LPC historic designated building.

Established in 1965 following the destruction of Penn Station, the LPC is responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites. There is currently 31,000 landmark properties in NYC consisting of:

  • 109 historic districts
  • 20 historic district extensions
  • 1,332 individual landmarks
  • 115 interior landmarks
  • 10 scenic landmarks

In most historic buildings, the window sash, window frame and the architectural detail surrounding the windows, were carefully designed as integral components of the style, scale and character of a building.  It is vital when replacing windows to retain the configuration, operation, details, material and finish of an original window, as well as maintaining the size of the openings, sills, decorative moldings and the sash itself.

The rules of the LPC are outlined in Title 63 of the RCNY (Rules Of The City Of New York). The rules outline the processes, procedures and standards for work on designated areas, the application process, enforcement and public hearings. All plans must adhere to Title 63 to be issued a permit at “Staff Level.” Permits are not required for routine maintenance but are required for the following:

  • Replacing a window on both visible and non-visible elevations
  • Changes in the configuration of a window
  • Any changes made to the shape and/or size of a window
Permit Type Issued At Application Timing Expiration
CNE – Certificate of No Effect  Staff Level Non-visible elevations; interior renovations Fastrack Program: 10 working days;

Standard submittal: Up to 90 working days

4 years
PMW – Permit for Minor Work Staff Level Exterior work on visible elevations or “special windows” Up to 90 working days (average 50 to 60 working days) 4 years
CofA – Certificate of Appropriateness  Commissioners @ Public Hearing Work not adhering to Title 63; new construction or additions 4 to 6 months 6 years
Master Plan  Staff Level Repetitive work occurring not at once 3 to 5 months Never
ATP -Authorizations to Proceed Staff Level Issued for work adhering to a Master Plan 20 to 30 working days 4 years

The Power of Master Plans: Establishes standards and criteria for future window replacement; Reduces time required to obtain a permit; Ensures uniformity on building facades; Streamlines Alteration Agreement Process; Drastically reduced expediting costs (average $500 vs $3,000 per permit).

The Issues: Permits approved for individual apartments can set the precedent for the entire building; Owners incur a substantial cost for each permit.

Primary Facades – Small Buildings

Individual landmarks, small buildings in historic districts, small commercial and loft buildings.

A staff-level permit may be issued for replacement sash or frames if they are beyond repair and if they match the historic windows in terms of configuration, operation, details, materials and finishes.

Primary Facades – Large Buildings

Large commercial and loft buildings in historic districts.

A staff-level permit may be issued for the replacement sash or frames in large buildings that either have street frontage of 41 feet or more, are seven stories plus and are beyond repair. The new windows must match the historic windows in terms of configuration, operation, details, materials and finishes. Special Windows are excluded.

Visible Secondary Facades

A staff-level permit may be issued for replacement windows on secondary facades that are visible from a public thoroughfare if they match the historic windows in terms of configuration and finishes, special windows are excluded here also.

Non-Visible Facades

A staff-level permit may be issued for new windows in existing or modified window openings on secondary facades that are not visible. These windows must not alter, destroy or detract from other protected features on the building or adjacent buildings. These windows cannot be special windows.

If an application is rejected at staff level, applicants must take their case to a Public Hearing where commissioners will review the application and vote on its appropriateness, if approved a CofA will be issued.

All in all, windows are undeniably a very important feature when it comes to New York’s LPC. Although larger buildings allow for more flexibility one must adhere to Title 63. Applications can be quite time consuming and thus one should allow for additional time when embarking on a LPC window project (LPC Permit Time + Window Lead Time = +/- 6 months). Permits will stay valid for a 4 year minimum but if a Master Plan can be obtained it can save you both money and time. Building or restoring property in a historic landmark district can be a tricky situation. Installing, replacing or repairing windows in an LPC building should always be carried out by an expert. Our Adler Windows Team can advise you on the best route to take and most suitable permit to apply for.