In testimony, the hospital portrayed the O’Toole Building as worthy of demolition because it was outmoded, unsuitable to current needs and out of character with other buildings in the neighborhood. Designed by Albert C. Ledner in 1964 for the National Maritime Union of America, it was purchased by the hospital and renamed the Edward and Theresa O’Toole Medical Services Building.
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Yet once derided in the neighborhood as the “overbite building” for its serrated setbacks, O’Toole is now admired by many preservationists for its unusual nautical motifs. “It is an exceptional building, with technical innovations — including the use of glass block — that are valuable to the history of architecture,” said Nina Rappaport, chairwoman of a preservationist group, Docomomo New York-Tristate (who?), that has made saving the building a cause.
At the hearing — implying that they would vote to protect it — a majority of the commissioners praised the O’Toole Building, including Christopher Moore, who said he considered it “one of the most historic buildings in the entire complex.”