Melissa Hope Matlins


Hard Times for Peace
December 3, 2008, 12:11 am
Filed under: Architecture, New York City, Urbanism

339-in-1991

Architecture can be most intriguing in ruins. 339 Lafayette Street appears as a mirage at the end of a City block – a ghost of New York’s past. Also known as the “Peace Pentagon,” the building at the corner of Bleeker and Lafayette has been home to a number of activist organizations since its purchase by the War Resisters League in 1969. The facade is not particularly distinguished, and the building is unrenovated after 90 years of existence. Motley stacks of books, flags, and signs obscure many windows, and banners, like this one opposing the first Gulf War from 1991, are often strewn across the cornice. The building is just a sort of backdrop for messages – an architectural sandwich board.

Times are tough for peace, and the non-profit institute that owns and operates the building can no longer ignore the estimated value of the property, and its deteriorating condition, and is contemplating a sale. Tenants, unsurprisingly, are protesting.

Image: Ed Hedemann via Peace Pentagon

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