Here's the take from Fred A. Bernstein, writing a post for the The Design Observer Group:
[T]here’s a reason to save the building that has nothing to do with its past, and everything to do with the present.
The house is all that stands between two angled, glass-and-steel buildings (one of them, Thom Mayne's academic building for the Cooper Union, a masterpiece of contemporary architecture). Those buildings wouldn't be the same without their modest, gable-roofed companion.
Contemporary buildings feed on historical context. When that context is removed, even the best of the new buildings fall flat.
New buildings depend on context if they're to be become architecture, not just site-specific artworks competing for attention in an architectural petting zoo. Greg Pasquarelli, a principal of SHoP, one of the busiest firms in the city, recently described his firm's idea of contextual design: “Making sure that the building looks nothing like the buildings around it.” He was referring to his penchant for placing new buildings among the old, but what about ensuring that old buildings remain among the new?
When deciding what to preserve, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission should think of some buildings — like the house on Cooper Square — as buffers, essential elements in making sure new buildings live up to their potential (to enliven, not entomb, the city).
Read his full post here.