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Architects Preserving History

What most people think architects do: imagine and draw.

What architects really do: design and innovate.
 
Many architects take it a step further and specialize. In New York City there are a number of full service architectural firms that could even be called historians because of their commitment to preserving architectural history.

The Preservation Expertise

Preservation is more than just restoring the integrity of a structure that has deteriorated over time. The artistry involved in preservation architecture endeavors to maintain the integrity of the historical significance of bygone construction methods. It is not enough for a building to appear as a copy of an original. The use of traditional building materials preserves the personality imbued within the structure by the original craftsmen from a particular moment in history.

Why a Preservation Commitment Matters

In 1965, the late Mayor Robert F. Wagner created the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Landmarks Law to preserve historic landmarks and neighborhoods. Today thousands of buildings, historic interiors and even whole neighborhoods in all five boroughs happily exist under the law’s protection. In fact, 27% of Manhattan’s buildings have landmark status, all of which need architects with specific knowledge, experience and skill sets.

A Record of Excellence

If your historic structure is in need of restoration, place your confidence in an architectural firm wholly committed to historic preservation. Scott Henson Architect’s record of excellence can be seen in other New York City projects such as the Fleming Smith Warehouse, the Puck Building, the Franklin-Hudson Building, and the Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory just to name a few. To add your own building's name to such an illustrious list, please contact us.

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FISP (Local Law 11)

The New York City Department of Buildings requires that owners of buildings taller than 6 stories have their buildings’ exterior walls and appurtenances inspected once every 5 years by a qualified Registered Architect or Professional Engineer. The R.A. or P.E. must then file a technical report with the Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) of the Department of Buildings.

Scott Henson Architect has performed LL11 compliance inspections and report submissions for over 100 buildings, providing assessment to address necessary and recommended repairs. Properties inspected by Scott Henson Architect range from 20th Century skyscrapers to smaller buildings, some of them landmarked, dispersed throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City.

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FAO Schwarz

Scott Henson Architect was retained by this iconic New York City toy store for consulting and architectural services for its flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. SHA was responsible for architectural, zoning and code assessments, for the evaluation of the store’s usable floor area per REBNY standards, and provided expert witness testimony.

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CitySpire

CitySpire, designed by Helmut Jahn, was the second tallest concrete tower in the world when it was built in 1987. As the tallest mixed-use tower in New York City, the LL11 repair program developed by SHA required careful planning and execution. The scope of work on this 75-story skyscraper included the repair of the curtain wall, stone panels, windows, and structural concrete.

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Berkeley Towers

Scott Henson Architect LLC was retained to perform the exterior repairs of this 1961 masonry condominium building, and was responsible for the design of a complete restoration and waterproofing program for 220 concrete balconies that met the board’s maintenance and budgetary goals.

Failed patching from the previous repairs was removed and replaced with a new concrete restoration mortar. The new mortar was custom mixed to match the precise content and strength of the original concrete providing maximum compatibility and adhesion. The existing sleeve-post railings were replaced with new aluminum railings anchored to the slabs using sleek stainless steel pins embedded in the concrete, eliminating their vulnerability to water intrusion and corrosion.

Finally, the newly repaired concrete slabs were fully enveloped for protection against future cracking. A fleece-reinforced membrane was installed on the balcony decks and a breathable water-repellent mineral coating was applied to the underside of the balconies.

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300 East 4th Street

Scott Henson Architect was retained to assess the conditions of this East Village brick and timber-framed building’s roof. After a thorough investigation that included inspections and probes, we were able to determine the origination and causes of ongoing leaks. We have since been hired to address these issues, for which a full roof membrane replacement of the main roof and bulkheads is necessary. The repair program includes the replacement of all perimeter and bulkhead base flashing, penetration flashing, drains, and insulation.

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Falk and Fine Building

Scott Henson Architect was retained to perform an exterior conditions assessment of the building at 241 Eldridge Street, a condominium originally built in 1900. In addition to determining that the building needed a new roof, new windows, and terra-cotta repairs, it was discovered that the original mortar in the brick masonry walls had almost completely disintegrated, leaving massive cavities filled only with dust. The cost of re-building the walls was prohibitive, so after extensive research, SHA provided the board with an alternative. SHA’s proposal utilized a mortar injection technology never used before in the US but common in Europe. The new mortar was injected into the voids through holes drilled into the brickwork, stabilizing the wall from the inside out. The contractor worked for two months drilling the 1435 holes necessary to pump 128 gallons of mortar into the deteriorated walls, saving the condominium both the time and exorbitant cost of reconstruction. The restoration was a success and was featured in the New York Times as well as Habitat Magazine.

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Tracy Mansion

This Neo-classical style townhouse in the Park Slope historic district was designed by Frank J. Helme in 1912. The lavish mansion was built for the Tracy family and remained a single-family residence until 1970, when it was converted to a Montessori School.

Scott Henson Architect served as the historic preservation architect in 2015 for the project that sought to convert the building into a multi-family home with seven units. The conversion included two additions at the back of the property, where the existing courtyards were infilled, and a penthouse addition on the roof. Because of the significance of the property and its location within a historic district, the alterations had to first be approved by the Landmarks Preservation and were subject to a public hearing. SHA worked closely with the project architect to ensure that the conversion respected the historic character of the neighborhood, adhered to LPC standards, and responded to the community’s concerns.

In addition to guiding the project through the Landmarks process, SHA directed several design alterations to the original design – including the configuration of the penthouse and composition of the rear façade – to respond to LPC’s concern to maintain the original character of the rear elevation and reduce the visibility of the rear and rooftop additions. The improved design was approved by Landmarks in February 2015 and is currently under construction.

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The American Grocery Company Building

This neo-grec style building was the first warehouse erected on Hudson Street and is now part of the Tribeca West Historic District. It was designed by Charles F. Mengelson in 1874 for grocer and importer Horace K. Thurber, and initially housed the firm of Thurber, Wyland & Co., wholesale grocers. By the early 1920s the building was vacant; by the mid-twentieth century it was used for light manufacturing, showrooms, offices, and retail concerns, all characteristic of the district; and currently the building is residential with a few commercial spaces.

SHA was retained to review the design and supervise the construction of two commercial spaces within the building, a yoga studio and a skin treatment salon.

The problems facing the architecture of a vibrant and ever-changing city like New York require inventive and reliable solutions. Scott Henson Architect is a full service architectural firm that understands each project requires its own unique approach. Their team is dedicated to addressing the issues their clients face while preserving the character of a building. Utilizing a wide knowledge base, established building methods, and advanced technology, Scott Henson Architect is an architectural firm suited to address the unique needs of both new and historic architecture.


Buildings in high-density, urban landscapes are both aesthetic and functional fixtures of their environment. Preservation and adaptive re-use, both of which Scott Henson Architect specializes in, are key strategies for creating sound solutions for problems facing the built environment. The firm is a strong proponent of renewable and sustainable building practices in their approach to meeting their client's needs and understands that each project is a substantial investment that requires great care and creativity to achieve its desired outcome. Every building has its own unique character deserving of a personalized and skilled approach.


Urban environments offer many opportunities to recognize innovative architecture, while adopting new and practical uses for existing structures. This dynamic is a rare charm that makes New York City so special. Bringing architecture to its full potential in a large metropolis demands an understanding of the full spectrum of possible problems, as well as the best solutions. To learn more contact us.

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