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Historic landmarks are part of our cultural history and tell us a lot about the past through their characteristics. During the manufacturing boom in 19th century, building materials such as brick, hardwood, terracotta, and brownstone, became cheaper and more readily available. As a result, more and more people could afford to own a brick or stone home.

Today, we admire these historic masonry buildings because their characteristics have become less common over time and as technology evolves. The green movement has inspired owners of historic buildings to become more sustainable when it comes to maintenance.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) requires that historic buildings meet certain aesthetic criteria, while the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) requires that these buildings meet certain sustainable criteria. While LPC is more focused on the potential loss of a building’s character, the IGCC is more concerned with the reality that certain building materials have become less available and therefore unsustainable in today’s environment.

To beat this conflict, preservation architects must pay special attention to a building’s most meaningful characteristics. For example, historic windows are central in defining the character of historic buildings. Instead of replacing in-kind, architects might suggest retrofitting with insulated glass to boost their performance or incorporate weather stripping and storm windows that prevent heat loss and gain all year round.

Regarding energy, visible solar panels reduce the historical value of landmarks significantly. Preservationists prefer these panels be installed on flat roofs where visibility is minimal. Another sustainable solution currently in place is using renewable energy sources like off-site wind power and geothermal heating systems, which can be incorporated into the building system. These energy sources provide the much-needed efficiency and fulfill sustainability requirements that the IGCC, building owners and tenants desire.

For more information, please contact us.

What is worth preserving will typically vary from person to person. When something is called historic, it usually means that it is worth the time and effort that is needed to preserve it. The same goes for historic buildings. Building preservation, restoration, and adaptive reuse can potentially revitalize a community and bring new opportunities.

Many older buildings have inherent value, as they are typically built with sturdy and high-quality materials that are hard to find today. A historic building that was once a central part of a neighborhood or a community, such as a church or school, can be preserved or re-adapted for new use. Restoring historic buildings offers us the opportunity to combine all the benefits of contemporary construction with attractive historic features, often of very high architectural and cultural value.

Aside from the aesthetic value that can be found in old buildings, there are various economic advantages to purchasing an older building. Many new business owners tend to prefer setting up shop in an older building because it is shown that buildings with historic value have an economic advantage over their modern counterparts.

A full-service architectural firm has the tools and resources you need to preserve a historic building in your neighborhood. Once a building is gone, the opportunities to preserve, restore and reuse are no longer available. Do not let a historic building in your neighborhood get demolished. Contact us today for more information on what steps you can take to preserve a historic building in your community.

No one wants their building's balcony to collapse. On the other hand, no one wants to spend an insane amount of money to repair or replace their building’s balcony unless it is absolutely necessary.

Balconies are generally made of reinforced concrete. It is always a good idea to regularly check for any rust stains, cracks, spalling and loose railings. These can indicate that you have a balcony issue that needs to be addressed. The best time to check for any of these warning signs is at the end of winter.

With proper yearly maintenance, your concrete balcony can last for decades. Unfortunately, many balconies that improperly maintained will only last for a few years before they need to be fully restored.

Before you make any decisions regarding your balcony, you should consult with an architect. The architect will be able to determine if the balcony has enough stability and if it is structurally sound. If you have noticed a problem that needs to be repaired or maintained, do not hesitate to contact us today for a consultation.

Many people care deeply about historic building preservation. Individuals who care a lot about history may care about the educational value of historic buildings, as older buildings help to give an area its own unique identity. Oftentimes, people who have a strong emotional connection to a local area often want to maintain the buildings and surrounding neighborhoods that they recognize.

Historic building preservation architects are trained in understanding the essential character of the building. They must empathize with the concerns of tenants, who are rightfully cautious about the process of historic building preservation.

The right firm will always place a great deal of emphasis on historic research, thus making it easier for everyone involved to make the building look and feel like something that is representative of its era. General contractors will do what architects specify; they will fix roofs, install new doors and windows, and reconstruct parapets. However, the actual materials and approaches that will be used in the process will be chosen by the architect as true to the time-period in question.

Firms can adopt modern materials and technologies while still respecting original intent and traditional approach to construction. In that way, their methods can be both modern and timeless, giving them all the tools that are available in the world of today while still allowing them to use the knowledge of the past.

Contact us to become more familiar with historic building preservation.

If you thought that "going green" might harm your bottom line, you can stop worrying. A 2012 study conducted at Notre Dame University which looked at over 500 PNC branches found that LEED certified PNC bank branches were performing better, profit-wise, than their non-LEED certified counterparts. In fact, customers were even depositing more money at the LEED certified branches!

The study never pinned down exactly why that was so -- whether customers were finding the LEED certified branches more inviting or whether their more comfortable employees were just being more productive. Either way, the LEED certified branches made more money, and it's a safe bet to say their employees appreciated their working environment, too! Either way, their findings support a growing consensus that you certainly don't have to "sacrifice" profitability to become more socially responsible and use more sustainable building materials.

In case you're not familiar with it, LEED is an acronym for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design", and to become LEED certified requires that your building must meet certain MPRs (that's short for Minimum Program Requirements.)

Another interesting aspect of achieving LEED certification is that you'll save money on your day-to-day operating costs, according to the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council). Expect to reduce cost on maintenance, energy, and water all while reducing waste. That's a win-win from every angle! And if you need more incentive, consider that because of these savings combined with increased efficiency, getting back the money you put in won’t take as long as you’d expect; According to the USGBC, green retrofit projects can expect to recoup their investment in as few as 7 years!

If you'd like to learn more about obtaining LEED certification and exactly what it entails, contact us at Scott Henson Architect today.  

Scott Henson Architect LLC is an award-winning architecture firm with a diverse portfolio of work in and around New York City, and has developed a specialty in the repair, preservation, and restoration of buildings.

We are creative problem solvers dedicated to a hands-on approach that brings a passion for craftsmanship into all phases of our projects. We assist our clients in diagnosing and remedying the myriad of issues that can plague new and historic buildings alike. Through traditional construction methods and new construction technologies, we find solutions to immediate and long-term concerns of building maintenance and preservation. We work closely with our clients to investigate building conditions and to develop strategic, economically responsible recommendations for the repair of their buildings, and then implement the design and construction in an open, transparent line of communication.

Our approach to architecture is sensitive to the history of existing structures while pragmatic about their present needs to ensure that these buildings remain active contributors to our urban fabric. We approach each project, large or small, with the same level of care. Beginning with a careful investigation of the conditions unique to each project, we integrate our client’s budgetary, programmatic and aesthetic goals to design the optimal solution for each of our projects. Stone, brick and mortar, terra-cotta, wood, cast-iron, steel, sheet metal, waterproofing and roofing systems, windows, and vaults are few of the components we have in-depth knowledge and experience in specifying, detailing, and fabricating.

We view the re-purposing, rehabilitation, and restoration of existing buildings as one of the most effective tools for the sustainable stewardship of our environmental resources, including those resources that have already been expended in their construction.

We have extensive experience in the assessment, design and detailing of building exteriors including preparation of comprehensive conditions reports, construction documents and repair specifications, full and phased construction cost estimates, city agency filing, and contract procurement and administration.
Our firm is primarily functional in Manhattan, which has a healthy combination of architectural landmarks and new buildings that make up its skyline. We also have several projects in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

All things considered, this full-service architecture firm is an exceptional choice for your next building project.

Contact us here to get started.

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Spring Cleaning for Building Facades

After the gray snow piles melt and the temperature rises, building owners seek out the help of licensed professionals to give their buildings a Spring Cleaning. Aesthetic improvement is typically the chief motivation behind façade cleaning, but buildings also need to be cleaned to reduce the risk of damage to the exterior surfaces from environmental contaminants. The type of atmospheric and environmental contaminants that buildings are exposed to in an urban environment must be removed in order to prevent further deterioration, accurately diagnose surface conditions, and prepare the building surface for paint and coating applications.

Modern cities produce a great deal of acid rain that helps the contaminants in industrial and traffic fumes stick to the surfaces of buildings.  Lead and other heavy metals blow around in the dust, and stick to rough surfaces like concrete and brick. Smoke, soot, biological growth and other forms soiling can stain a building and obscure elements in the façade that need inspection.

Evaluating and repairing the structural integrity of buildings is critical for their safety. Masonry and brick mortar can easily deteriorate in the presence of moss and lichen, acidic surface dirt and contamination, and other chemicals present on the surface. Inspecting and repairing the mortar and repointing is critical for the integrity of the building envelope. In many cases a thorough inspection isn't possible until after cleaning.

The goal of a cleaning project is to clean the masonry while causing little or no damage to the façade surface. Several cleaning methods exist, however the correct method must be chosen to avoid overcleaning. Selection of a cleaning method depends on the nature of the façade materials, and the identified contaminants. The first step of any cleaning program is to characterize the soiling and identify its origins because soiling can often be a symptom of ongoing conditions which should be addressed before cleaning.

The methods for cleaning are broken down into three categories: water washing, chemical cleaning, and abrasive cleaning.

Water Washing

The simplest and safest method of cleaning is washing with water. Water often softens soiling deposits. Water can be sprayed or misted continuously or intermittently with alternating wash cycles. Water pressure and steam are also popular methods of façade cleaning, however they require more sophisticated equipment and should be employed cautiously. 

Chemical Cleaning

When water is ineffective, a variety of chemical cleaners can be used. Detergents used in combination with water washing provide the gentlest cleaning. For heavier soiling, acidic cleaners can be used on materials such as sandstone and unpolished granite. For acid-sensitive materials such as limestone, marble and occasionally brick, Alkaline cleaners help to facilitate the removal of deposits, however a neutralizing acidic cleaner must be applied  before a final water rinse removes all cleaning residues. When used inappropriately, chemical cleaners can result in irreversible damage to the façade. Precautions must also be taken to protect workers from potential health hazards.

Abrasive Cleaning

Absrasive cleaning removes soiling by mechanically scraping, grinding or blasting the surface with a dry or wet medium. Abrasive cleaning methods are harsher than water and chemical cleaning. Common techniques include Soda blasting, Pelletized carbon dioxide blasting, Façade Gommage, and the Jos cleaning process, to name a few. Most of these methods require specially trained professionals and sophisticated equipment. The use of abrasive cleaning methods should be limited to prevent damage to the façade surface as dirt is removed. These cleaning methods can rough stone surfaces, remove decorative detail from carvings, loosen mortar, and etch unprotected metal and glass.

Spring cleaning of building facades brings a beauty and sparkle back to city buildings after the gray of winter, allows for repair, and preserves historic facades. For more information on façade cleaning, please contact us.

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Skyscraper Curtain Wall Replacement

Photo credit: AP Photo/Alan Welner
 
When Philippe Petit walked a high wire strung between the World Trade Center towers, the world was amazed by his grace and daring as he walked on air nearly a quarter-mile above the ground. Today a different kind of dare-devil can be seen hovering above the sidewalk: the crane operators and construction crews that replace curtain walls on skyscrapers in New York.
 
A curtain wall system is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but merely keep the weather out and the occupants in.  Typical curtain wall infills include stone veneer, metal panels, louvres, and glass windows.
 
Several critical environmental and structural challenges come into play when replacing elements on skyscrapers. Wind is the primary natural force that affects both the structural specifics of the materials and the challenges that come with replacing curtain walls. While replacing windows, wind pressures can make the interior uncomfortable and noisy while the work is ongoing, and even dangerous for the construction crews performing the work. Glass elements must be designed with both wind and load limits in mind, and are often laminated and tempered as a result. 
 
Unusual shapes in buildings also cause areas of stress and increased pressure in the materials that must be taken into account when finding structurally appropriate replacements. The shape of the building can also create a wind tunnel, channeling outside air in dangerous ways along the building exterior. The taller the building, the greater the wind pressures affecting both the performance of the building materials and the safety of workers. 
 
To compete with increased natural forces at great heights, modern construction crews must have the reflexes of a trapeze performer while they skillfully work high above the city streets. Contact Scott Henson Architect for more information on curtain wall replacement for your building.
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The Minimalist Interior

The minimalist interior balances simplicity with symmetry, and neutral colors with natural light. The ideas behind the design aesthetic are stillness, harmony, and balance. Spaces designed with minimalism are quiet, rather than energizing.

In many design plans, color is used to delineate, energize and enliven a space; they are to more approximate natural environments. Color schemes can include sand and shell, with a touch of sky, or the colors of a bird's nest, with tiny blue speckled eggs inside. Natural wood, with textured linen and cotton accents provide subtle detailing.

One of the hallmarks of a minimalist interior is warmth. While the popularity of the industrial loft concrete finishes is sometimes confused with minimalism, the true minimalist interior has a timeless warmth from the use of natural materials for flooring and materials. Subtle patterns and textures, such as wood grain, provides interest without being static or busy.

Another hallmark of minimalism is the lack of fussy accessories. Many minimalist interiors confine color and movement to art pieces, leaving the rest of the walls and table tops clean. Especially with small spaces and working spaces, clutter and too much pattern can raise the noise level of a room to shouting. With minimalist interiors, the rooms should whisper, or at the least, speak in a calm, quiet voice. This is especially critical for rooms with multiple purposes. It is easy to transform a minimalist space from office to boardroom to living room.

Minimalism is a design aesthetic with classic, timeless features. It works well for both personal and work interiors, and allows spaces to change function easily. It is design that works especially well with an art collection, as the art can take center-stage.

(Image © Alexander Severin)

For over 16 years, the editors of Traditional Building have resolved to give historically influenced architecture its due respect. In naming the award after Andrea Palladio, they commemorate the master teacher and architect whose principles of clarity, simplicity, proportionality, and originality remain relevant today. Each year, the Palladio Awards honor both individual designers and design teams whose work enhances the beauty and humane qualities of the built environment with Andrea Palladio’s principles in mind.

We are honored to announce that Scott Henson Architect + Stephen B. Jacobs Group have been awarded The 2017 Palladio Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse for their collaboration on The Knickerbocker Telephone Company Building! To learn more about the award winning project visit our company page!