The latest news on New York architecture.

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An Overview of Construction Management

Construction management encompasses all aspects of a construction project, from bid through completion, including:

  • Staffing
  • Construction
  • Oversight
  • Documentation
  • Permits
  • Quality control/quality assurance
  • Drawing preparation

Based on a client’s desired level of control, a skilled construction manager is responsible for, first and foremost, acting as the owner’s representative throughout the course of the project and providing cohesion from bid through delivery. Additional duties include preparing drawings to technical specifications and coordinating and overseeing scope, special conditions, documentation, and pricing considerations. The manager also examines contractor and material supplier pre-qualifications and ensures that projects meet all specifications and requirements.

There are two broad phases involved in construction management in which construction managers involve themselves: pre-construction and construction/delivery.

Pre-Construction Phase

During the planning, design, and pre-construction phase, the manager works with the client and architect in order to define the project’s scope, budget, and other preparatory factors such as energy efficiency, design, structural integrity, market value, space used, and mechanical and electrical systems before construction begins. The manager also ensures that materials adhere to specifications and fall within the desired budget.

Construction/Delivery Phase

As would be expected, this phase addresses the actual construction based upon the specifications, plans, and budgets discussed in the previous phase. The construction manager coordinates and oversees:

  • On-site construction supervision and coordination
  • Scheduling
  • Cost accounting and other financial records

With respect to cost control records, the construction manager is responsible for:

  • Evaluating actual versus proposed costs
  • Adhering to the budget
  • Developing and maintaining the construction schedule
  • Monitoring construction progress
  • Arranging inspections
  • Dealing with any change orders by the owner
  • Coordinating product delivery, storage, and security
  • Obtaining the necessary equipment
  • Assisting the owner with occupancy, systems operations, and any other post-construction concerns.

Quality Control

During and following the project’s completion, quality assurance and control is critical to ensure that the finished product meets the original requirements, specifications, and subsequent performance expectations. Construction managers make sure that the project not only falls within the proposed budget but that the finished project is structurally sound and adheres to all specifications and codes.

For more information about the construction management services we provide, please contact us.

 

When considering more sustainable practices for design and construction, adaptive reuse architects first consider their choice of site. Instead of building on “new” land, they often choose to clean up existing land known as “brownfield sites”.

A brownfield is defined by the EPA as a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are over 450,000 brownfields in the United States, which presents immense potential for improving the health of people, nature and the environment.


Brownfield sites typically exist within the industrial section of cities on sites with abandoned factories or commercial buildings, which not only reduce property values but encourage pollution and unsafe conditions. . Urban environments like New York City have a long history of industrial development, and as a result, a long history of heavy metals, pesticides, hydrocarbons, solvents, and other human health hazards in the soil. The rough appearance of these sites and the mere mention of hazardous materials often scares off developers, even though they may be in locations of great value. Though the remediation and development of these brownfield sites may be an expensive and lengthy process, the benefits to the community, environment and even the investor’s wallets, often outweigh the risks.


The land remediation process depends heavily on the intended use of the property. For example, a more extensive remediation program will be required if the lot is being converted into a residential site or community garden, as opposed to a parking lot. The more extensive the remediation program, the longer it will take and the more expensive it will be to treat. Regardless of the future plan for the site, the first step of land remediation usually starts with looking at a property’s past uses and identifying possible contaminants, called a “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment”. While the hefty cost of remediation is a huge factor in the decision to reuse a brownfield site, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offer grants to encourage developers to heal and reuse formally contaminated sites.


Brownfield remediation and redevelopment boasts a number of benefits including the removal of harmful substances, increased area property values, less land use than greenfield developments, avoidance of urban sprawl, increased economic value and return on investments and a boost in community pride and vitality. One developer’s trash may be another’s treasure if he’s willing to invest time and money into brownfield sites.

For more information on adaptive reuse in New York City, please contact uss.

LEED certification: Silver, Gold, and Platinum- does it add any real value to a commercial construction project? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Developed by the United States Green Building Council, LEED seeks to reward the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of buildings that meet standards for sustainability, performance, health, and resource efficiency.

LEED certifies over 1.85 million square feet of construction space daily, and as such, has become known as the benchmark of excellence in sustainable design and construction. Both industry professionals and consumers know LEED certification means quality, sustainability, and energy savings.

LEED boasts benefits to people, planet and profit. These profits include increased building value, higher lease rates, and decreased utility costs. By 2018 LEED certified buildings will contribute over 29.8 billion to the US economy. Value in green building accrues in two ways:

1. Sustainable design increases a building’s value up front, with an estimated 4% increase in estimated value yearly.

2. Maintenance costs for green buildings are estimated at 20% lower.

The actual cost to build green is competitive with traditional means of design and construction, with an estimated premium of only 1-3 %, which can be paid back by energy savings in as little as a year. The application process for LEED certification for commercial projects, including campus buildings, is detailed on the US Green Building Council website.

For more information on sustainable architecture, please contact us.

Historic preservation societies are the advocates, guardians, and staunch defenders of the historic built environment. They keep long-standing buildings and neighborhoods safe through advocacy for landmark designation and zoning changes that monitor and regulate new development. These organizations provide not only leadership and education, but resources, support, and expertise to the architects and builders who preserve historic structures for the next generation to use and enjoy.

These societies often provide source material such as photo archives, blueprints, and historical records that are critical to developing a restoration project that is true to the spirit of the original while incorporating changes that modern living demands. The rigorous work of balancing the desires of owners, developers, and the community with the goals of historic preservation societies is a feat that requires a unique architectural disposition and a specialized skill set.

In New York City, the  NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission is the government body that designates buildings or neighborhoods as historic, culturally significant, or part of the heritage of New York City that need preservation and protection. The Commission also approves all requests for renovation, repair, or retrofit of such structures.

Privately operated preservation and historical societies work with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to provide expertise, and, in many cases, advocate for historically significant buildings through the lengthy and detailed process of landmark designation. Private societies also manage and administer funding for restoration and repair work through a system of loans and grants. Through their work, these societies directly impact community revitalization and the economic health of their neighborhoods.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation , for example, not only works directly on the designation and restoration of historic buildings in i neighborhood, but is also active in the community’s economic development. It supports small business and retail diversity and offers a number of educational and outreach programs.

The following references are links to some of NYC's historical preservation groups.

Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation

Historic Districts Council

The New York Landmarks Conservancy

The Preservation League of NY State

For more information on New York City building restoration, please contact us.

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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.