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Preservation Green Lab

By the Numbers

By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | Spring 2012  City Graphic 42 Duration, in minutes, of the Preservation Green Lab press conference, held Jan. 24, 2012, during which the National Trust reported on the environmental and economic value of reusing buildings. Six different building typologies were tested across four U.S. cities—Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland, Ore.—each representing a different climate zone 98.003 quadrillion Total amount of energy, in BTUs, used in the United States each year 3:51 Time, in minutes and seconds, President Barack Obama dedicated to renewable energy and climate change in his 2012 State of the Union address, in which he stated, “The easiest way to save money is to waste less energy,” and proposed giving businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings $20 billion Amount of money that would be saved in the United States if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10 percent 925 million Square footage of building space demolished in the United States in 1996 1 billion Estimated square footage of building space demolished and replaced with new construction in the United States each year 82 billion Estimated square footage of space the Brookings Institution projects Americans will demolish and replace with new construction between 2005 and 2030, representing 25 percent of today’s existing building stock 46 Maximum percentage of energy saved through building reuse instead of new construction, comparing buildings with the same energy performance level 42 Time, in years, for the average new, energy-efficient commercial office building in Portland, Ore., to cancel out the negative climate change effects of its construction 50 Time, in years, for the average new, energy-efficient single-family house in Portland to cancel out the negative climate change effects of its construction 231,000 Metric tons of CO2 not emitted in Multnomah County, Ore., if, over the next decade, 1 percent of existing commercial office space and single-family houses is retrofitted and reused instead of demolished, amounting to 15 percent of Multnomah County’s target     Elizabeth McNamara is an assistant editor for Preservation.
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Preservation and Sustainability

The restoration of historic buildings in Charleston, SC, shows how sustainability and preservation issues can be solved. By Ralph C. Muldrow, RA Historic Charleston, SC, has weathered more than its share of traumas since its founding in 1670. The city has survived numerous fires, frequent hurricanes, bombardments, a major earthquake and a hot, humid climate. Like many southern cities, Charleston experienced burgeoning growth in the post-World War II era, not only because of the Naval Yard as an employer but also, importantly, because of the new availability of air conditioning that facilitated growth throughout the South, although at the price of increased energy use. All along the way, Charleston's ethos has been intertwined with the veneration of the past, especially the architecture. The seal of the city has a Latin phrase that translates, "She guards her buildings, manners and laws." Charleston created the first historic district in America in 1931, and continues to stringently guard the buildings of the old and historic district. Protecting the historic buildings is a sustainable practice, utilizing the 'embodied energy' that it took in terms of materials and labor to build and maintain this sought-after historic city. Of course, the buildings do present a range of styles, but the pervasive typology is that of the single house. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the single house was the dominant typology. The plan has the narrow end facing the street with a false door which leads to a real front door half way down the side of the house. This was greatly augmented by about 1800 when the false door became the entryway to a long, often double-height side porch, called a 'piazza' in Charleston. We find this floor plan recurring from the Georgian period, through the Adam (Federal) Style, the Greek Revival Style, Victorian styles, etc., but in all of these exotic garbs the floor plan, fenestration and formality remain constant, with only a few elements giving the house a discernable 'style.' The distinct urbanism created by the repetition of the single house is a very sustainable model in and of itself. The survival of the underlying form of the single house over large areas of the city is an embedded 'sustainable' urban form. These older blocks provide a syncopated rhythm to the street, with the sustained intervals of house, piazza, garden, house, piazza, garden, etc. Post-Bellum Charleston was not a prosperous place. The local saying was, "too poor to paint, to proud to whitewash." Yet these weathered remainders of times gone by largely remained standing. Thus in the 1920s there was a phenomenon now called 'the Charleston Renaissance,' wherein the crumbled stucco and naked wood siding of the day became a tourism magnet. Spurring this movement were the evocative etchings of Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, the lyricism of "Porgy and Bess," and even the African-American derived dance, "The Charleston," with its raw energy. It was in that era that many gardens were designed for the single houses – beautiful parterres with shaped boxwoods and trellises. This glorious layer veils the truth about these back yards, which historically usually functioned as 'urban plantations,' with cows and hogs and chickens raised at the homes. This 'weathered city' utilized her unique, long-standing architectural layout of houses turned longways into their sites to create a shelter appropriate to the climate. The piazzas all face south and west, which allows them to catch prevailing breezes and allows for the shading of windows when the sun is high in the summer. And in winter the sunbeams drench the house with much needed warmth. There is a 'louver effect' in which the houses themselves provide shade to the neighboring house and/or garden, just as the louvers of a vent shade each other. The side garden also functioned as a firebreak. The formal fenestration allows for numerous windows on the south and west sides of the house (facing the prevailing breeze) which feed the few windows (mostly in the staircase) of the north-facing side, allowing for cooling breezes through the single room depth of the house. And despite earnest attempts by the government throughout Charleston's history to require the use of brick for fire resistance, many houses are wood frame, clapboarded houses built originally with no insulation to allow cooling air movement within their walls. Even the chimney stacks, which facilitate air movement, aided in cooling the single house in the summer. Case Studies For the purposes of this study, "sustainability" will be defined as an approach to construction that strives for efficiency in its use of energy, water and other resources. It is also an approach that favors occupant health and improved employee productivity, and it strives to reduce waste, pollution and environmental degradation. Green products are those that further the cause of sustainability through recycling and low environmental impacts. Even green products may cause some friction with sustainable building. For example, should one buy a 'green' adhesive product from California? Or should you instead purchase a normal adhesive locally, saving the carbon footprint associated with the transportation of the product, and promoting the economic health of the community? Should you buy the adhesive product at a national chain store like Home Depot for a slightly lower price than the locally owned building supply store, or should you pay the extra money to sustain the viability of a local company? Now add to the equation a host of preservation issues involved in a building rehabilitation project and other questions arise. The preservation approach to a significant historic building would be to save as much of the extant fabric as possible, or to agree on a period of significance to aim for in the course of making rehabilitation decisions. Which priority trumps the other? This inevitably differs from one project to the next. Preservation approaches include issues that are less quantifiable but just as important in their own right. For instance, aesthetic considerations may not be optimizing energy use but may instead be highly important for the perpetuation of a building, avoiding demolition, which negates all of the embodied energy in such a structure. The same goes for significance. For instance, a plain cinderblock structure may be an iconic talisman for the civil rights movement. Should we load up the roof with photovoltaic panels to lower the use of electricity, or will that be an unacceptable incursion on the historic structure? #93 and #97 Broad Street Some current construction projects in Charleston are grappling with marrying sustainability with preservation – two important but sometimes differing agendas for the betterment of society. A high profile case in point is the two-building project at #93 and #97 Broad Street. The first building, #93 Broad Street, was constructed ca.1800, while #97 was built in 1835. The goals for the much altered and deteriorated buildings were that they may be used as offices and that they will be historically correct and constructed sustainably with 'green' products. In addition, appropriate reconstructions should be based on historic photos (rather than expanding over every last square footage on the site). The two buildings were extremely deteriorated and had been unoccupied for many years. One example of sustainability and preservation is exemplified by the mechanical systems. Instead of one or two large condensers, #93 Broad has been fitted out with six condenser units, all with a SEER rating of '16.' They are mounted on heavy timber dunnage with rubber blocks to dampen the inevitable vibrations. A filtering system dehumidifies the sultry summer Charleston air and cleans it as well. This number of condensers allows for them all to operate at about 60 percent of their full strength so as not to wear out easily. This also allows for a number of different zones in the building that can then be adjusted as necessary for specific needs instead of cooling the entire building needlessly. Many other sustainability items have been addressed with the target being LEED Silver certification. Meeting preservation requirements as well has been a challenge. The windows, for instance, have all been repaired instead of being replaced, including matching glass panes where the original ones are missing. This painstaking work is appropriate for such prominent historic structures, and it fulfills sustainability goals concerning 'embodied energy,' respecting the reuse of the windows instead of sending them to a landfill. The original windows were made from slow-growth wood, which is much sturdier than most wood today. The sills were replaced with solid mahogany – a wood that resists decay naturally. They are connected to the jamb with mortise-and-tenon connections. Yet with all of that going for them in the preservation process, a purely sustainable approach might encourage the provision of new windows with higher R-values, to save energy. One way to meet both goals would be to apply interior storm windows. The historic brick was another issue. An important part of reusing and re-pointing historic brick is the understanding that early bricks were softer than later 19th-century machine-made bricks. Conservation practice emphasizes the need for lime-based mortar which would have been used initially, rather than the Portland cement-based mortar. The latter is harder than the soft bricks and can lead to spalling. The use of lime mortar, however, is not a 'fix all' in every case, and it carries with it a higher need for maintenance in our present day market where labor is very expensive. (The hands that built the brick walls worked for lower wages and probably included slaves). The solution was to use salvaged bricks from a ruined 19th-century addition, with equal amounts of Portland cement and lime in the sand aggregate. The use of Portland cement will significantly extend the life of the mortar with these harder, machine-made bricks. Insulation is obviously an important component of the energy-saving approach advocated by LEED. #93 Broad has a new rear addition which is a replica of the earlier addition that was a ruin. In the new addition Charleston-based Meadors Construction used spray foam insulation on the back of the roof sheathing. In the historic section, rigid insulation was used to create airspace to allow airflow through the rafter plenums. Closed-cell spray insulation was used to provide a redundant layer of waterproof material and to prevent mold. The roofing is standing-seam copper on plywood sheathing with insulation as described above. Copper has a long life expectancy and is historically accurate, but it costs significantly more than an asphalt shingled roof and comes from distant sources, possibly even from China. Sustainability precepts would recommend that materials be local or at least from within a 300-mile radius, minimizing the fossil fuel costs to transport the material. Instead the copper has a big 'carbon footprint' due to the transportation factor. However, preservation precepts call for the historically correct roofing material, and it could be argued that the copper roofing is a 'sustainable' product because of its long life. Green products used in the rehabilitation of these severely damaged historic buildings included a fire-rated water-resistant sheathing made by National Gypsum Company, the use of stainless-steel screws to strongly secure the framing in perpetuity, lumber purchased from local forests, low-flush toilets, hot water on demand (to keep from having a hot water heater going all of the time), electrical elements such as lights are on a clock or a timer, insulated ductwork and numerous others. The exterior walls are thick brick coated with true lime stucco and painted with mineral pigment paint which allows for vapor to exit the wall. In terms of the sitework, a silt fence contains run-off of pollutants from the construction site. Metal scraps were recycled and plaster was sent out to be crushed and reused. This high-profile site may serve as a model for others. Conclusion: As these case studies indicate, sustainability and preservation don't always go hand-in-hand, but knowledgeably made decisions allow us to utilize new technologies and materials to allow sustainability goals for historic structures. Perhaps a new LEED category for historic structures should be created. The Charleston single house has built-in sustainable characteristics out of necessity. We can learn from the sustainable aspects of historic buildings and we can then augment their sustainability with emerging 'green' technologies. TB  
Ralph C. Muldrow, RA, is the Simons Chair Professor of Architecture and Preservation at the College of Charleston. He has degrees in architecture and preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and undergraduate degrees from the University of Virginia. He has worked at a number of preservation architecture firms including John Milner Associates. He teaches architectural design and architectural history and has lectured widely on architectural and preservation topics.
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Park Avenue Armory

Herzog & de Meuron
Pattern Language: In an ongoing restoration and renovation of a New York City landmark, the architects bring subtlety and boldness to the process.

By Suzanne Stephens

Certain modern architects view the restoration of historic buildings like an archaeological dig that exhumes alterations over time and places the resulting evidence on display. Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron (with Platt Byard Dovell White as executive architect) approached the restoration of the Park Avenue Armory between 66th and 67th Streets in New York in this manner. The architects also introduce an intriguing process where their own interventions add a new layer to their exposure of the sediments of history.

The Armory, a Gothic Revival brick fortress designed by Charles Clinton in 1880 for the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard, required repair work on the exterior along with requisite infrastructural and code-compliant upgrades. In addition to the revitalization of a 55,000-square-foot drill hall, the team confronted an array of 18 period rooms originally fitted out by legendary designers, architects, and decorators such as Louis C. Tiffany's Associated Artists, Stanford White, and the Herter Brothers. Some of the art-encrusted rooms used by the affluent volunteers to the National Guard remain almost intact; others were shabbily altered. In 2006, the nonprofit Park Avenue Armory Conservancy, with Rebecca Robertson as president and executive director, leased the five-story structure from the state to create an adventurous arts venue for dance, theater, and art performances, plus exhibitions, along with artists-in-residence studios. (And it will still continue to house 100 homeless women in its upper reaches.) The $200 million restoration—of which $84 million has been spent—is expected to be completed in five years.

While the Conservancy wanted to keep the lushness of the late-19th-century architecture and design, Robertson feared the stiffness and embalmed quality of meticulous period restorations. She turned to Herzog & de Meuron, impressed by the firm's inventive deployment of materials, surfaces, and craft in its work. “Seeing the copper-clad Signal Box in Basel [1995] was crucial,” she says. In the fall of 2011, two period rooms by Herzog & de Meuron opened to the public. As partner Ascan Mergenthaler explains, the team worked with each room's basic identity, choosing not to eliminate all traces of later modifications. The idea was to show the evolution of the rooms “as a wash of time,” in Robertson's words. The tortuous task involved delayering (manually or chemically stripping recent accretions from the surfaces) as well as overprinting (see below), which simulates abstractly underlying patterns—in addition to cleaning and restoration. With the second floor's Renaissance Revival room for Company D, designed in 1880 by Pottier & Stymus, the team restored the original mahogany woodwork, plus a herringbone parquet floor that replaced the 1880 one.

Originally, the ceilings and walls were stenciled, but later had been covered by Adamesque plaster scrollwork and painted, with other areas concealed by plasterboard. Where areas were damaged by the removal of the scrollwork and other scars of use, the team glazed the surface with a reddish field color discovered to be typical of the background's metallic paints. The stenciling under the plasterboard remained intact in the delayering. In the next part of the process, the architects printed a new pattern on top of the original circular stenciling to create an integrated tracery that picked up the background's copper tones. The stenciled, laser-cut pattern appears distinct from the original stenciling owing to its abstraction of basic geometric shapes, but retains the size and proportions of existing patterns, albeit emphasized with a metallic shimmer. The architects also designed a chandelier similar in proportion to the original gaslit one, but this time with copper arms and tinted-glass globes over halogen lamps. New copper chain-link curtains add a gleam to the room while shielding glare from the windows (aided by window coverings).

All of this subtle surgery creates an evocative space for small dinners and receptions and requires more than one keen glance to know that a modern architect was there. Another room on the second floor, for Company E, also decorated in 1880 by Pottier & Stymus in the Renaissance Revival style, offers an easier setting in which to detect the presence of the modern architect. A new gridded bronze lighting fixture dominates the space. Here, too, Herzog & de Meuron removed the Tudor Revival plaster strapwork and wallpaper, added in 1892, to reveal the earlier stenciling, and repaired damaged spots with plaster in a copper field color matching the surroundings. Since the room will be used for small theatrical and musical performances, the team wanted a lighting fixture that could be raised and lowered. While the modern fixture seems ungainly in comparison with the firm's more nuanced gestures, it fits in with the raw, austere look of the cleaned oak paneling. One of Herzog & de Meuron's more daring future proposals concerns the Colonel's Reception Room on the south side of the first floor, originally designed by the Herter Brothers. Its French black walnut paneling has remained reasonably intact, yet almost everything above a certain datum is too far gone to be delayered. So the architects suggest covering upper woodwork—which had been added later—plus walls and ceiling with a removable white paint. Since the space is planned to be used as a conductor's suite and for other events, the mixed time warp arguably would provide an arresting backdrop. Nearby they envision converting a room into a copper-lined “megavator” to take heavy loads to the second floor, and for a moving performance space.

Not every move is as provocative: Herzog & de Meuron is making few visible interventions in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, now the arena for a number of theatrical and dance productions. Nevertheless, the firm hopes to strip the lower parts of the hall to reveal the full arc of the room's barrel-vaulted cast-iron trusses. Then on the first floor, the Field and Staff Room, also designed by Pottier & Stymus, replete with taxidermied animal heads, will be redone as a bar, with a new copper ceiling, chandelier, and fittings. The architects' proposal for the mostly intact library on the other side of the main corridor involves taking the room originally designed by Louis C. Tiffany's Associated Artists, with a young Stanford White as consultant, back to its 1880 decorative scheme, lost in part after its conversion to a trophy gallery.

For its new use as an archive for the history of the Armory, Herzog & de Meuron plans to repaint the ceiling where the original panels are too far gone, and reinstate bookshelves. The restoration should complement the intact Veterans Room next door, also executed by Tiffany, White, et al. The architects' efforts so far have generated a refulgent ambience with a warm coppery glow, a burnished gleam in the walls and ceilings, and a lustrous sheen of the wood paneling. As Jorge Otero-Pailos states (page 42), Herzog & de Meuron's work specializes in echoing the original, transformed by time.

The ingenious approach shows that today's modern architects can still capture a sense of the new, while enhancing and revivifying the old.

Architect: Herzog & de Meuron

Executive Architect: Platt Byard Dovell White

Location: 643 Park Avenue, New York, USA

Completion Date: (partial) October 2011

Gross square footage: 190,000 square feet

Cost: $84 million to date

By Katie Frasier

This article originally appeared in ENR Mountain States.

During the past several years, the green building trend has soared, with an increase in government incentives and availability of affordable supplies driving a huge growth of U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified buildings. With the LEED program ambitiously hoping to certify one million commercial buildings by 2020, it’s no surprise that this trend has come under some scrutiny. And while most great rewards often have a price, in this case it could be at the expense of the safety of construction workers on the job.  

When Matthew Hallowell, assistant professor in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder, became aware of a study that found evidence of a nearly 50 percent increase of injury rate had occurred in LEED-certified projects over traditional construction, he found himself wondering about the cause. “That original work was the catalyst,” Hallowell says. “What we proposed to do was a comprehensive analysis where we looked credit by credit at the construction and design for this type of building and how that compared to what we traditionally do. LEED is growing very quickly, but prior to this, no one had paid much attention to the safety involved.”

The team’s greatest challenge in conducting the study, titled “Identification of Safety Risks for High-Performance Sustainable Construction Projects,” was gathering empirical data rather than opinion-based anecdotes. To do this, Hallowell says the student researcher conducted site visits, observed construction processes, obtained and analyzed project documentation and reviewed job-hazard analyses and injury reports—in addition to conducting interviews at multiple organizational levels. With the information gathered, Hallowell and his team of researchers were able to identify 14 LEED credentials that may create heightened risks to construction workers.

Most notable risks include a perceived 41% higher risk associated with installing sustainable roofing, a perceived 37% increase in risk from installing PV panels for on-site renewable energy, a perceived 36% additional risk of cuts, abrasions and lacerations from construction waste management and perceived 32% heightened risk of falls from installing skylights and atriums to meet the daylight and views credit.

“I was very surprised when I read the conclusions,” says Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED Technical Development at USGBC. “LEED buildings are substantively different than non-LEED buildings and while there are risks in all construction, we did not expect green-building construction would have higher incidence of accidents. I don’t know that a lot of people would have held an opinion that was different than mine prior to this report.” The fact that the LEED rating system had yet to identify how to improve workers’ safety was something the USGBC had already been working closely with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for several months to evaluate.

“We understood there were opportunities to learn from the safety community and help take their expertise to understand where we could create LEED credit language that inherently values the mitigation of risks to the constructors,” says Owens. “Still, it’s helpful and important that people are studying these issues and identifying opportunities to get better.” One question that arose from these studies was whether a building could truly be considered sustainable if the health and safety of its constructors were at risk. “Worker safety and health must be considered as an integral component of sustainable building design, construction and operation,” says Hallowell.

He reasons that adding LEED credentials based on safety measures would be beneficial to maintaining worker safety. But Owens notes that rather than putting in place a credential that recognizes regulations contractors should already be complying with, LEED officials are looking to evolve the rating system as a whole. “Right now we’re trying to understand where the leverage points are within the rating system for opportunities that will allow us to make it better,” says Owens. “If we can become better informed about risks involved, we can improve the requirements of the rating systems and enhance safety. This study is an initial step in that direction.” Whether the findings of this study have surprised or validated opinions of individuals around the industry, Owens asserts that the information is useful for everyone to consider. “I really hope that people will be looking at this study and learning from it.

That’s certainly what we’ll be doing.”

Examples of Identifying and Reducing Risks

In addition to identifying the increased risks in building for LEED certification, Hallowell and his team followed up with a study (due to publish in February) that found suggested mitigations for the added risks. It’s important to note that though these are listed under the LEED credential the construction methods meet, many of these risks are not unique to green building. Prevention efforts can also be applied to construction of traditional buildings that might incorporate one or more of these elements.

LEED Credit: Brownfield Redevelopment

Identified Risk: Extensive earthwork operations create a higher risk of falling or collapsing and hazards from the disposal of contaminants. Suggested Mitigation: Workers could use impermeable plastic liners in the beds of heavy equipment and thoroughly wash all equipment at the end of each workday to reduce contamination.  

LEED Credit: Stormwater Quality Control

Identified Risk: Workers have an increased risk of falling from increased excavation and trenching.

Suggested Mitigation: Designing detention ponds with gradual slopes to avoid steep embankments may help reduce risk of falling. Contractors could plan concurrent tasks away from the excavation. LEED Credit: Heat Island Effect—Roof Identified Risk: White roofing options can be heavier and slipperier than traditional black roofing material, which increases the risk for overexertion and falls. The bright material can interrupt line of sight and increase the risk of slips and falls during installation.

Suggested Mitigation: Tan or light gray membranes could be used to decrease reflectivity, or contractors could require tinted eyewear. Rubber walkpads could be provided for added traction, and contractors could purchase a greater number of smaller rolls to avoid overexertion from weight.

LEED Credit: Innovative Wastewater Technologies

Identified Risk: Risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals comes from construction a dual waste water system from installing additional piping.

Suggested Mitigation: Contractors might require non-polyester gloves and respiratory protection and employ extensive quality-control measures.

LEED Credit: Optimize Energy Performance

Identified Risk: An increased risk of falling comes from a more ladder time installing added wires and controls, and double caulking.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could incorporate prefabricated panels of the exterior skin system, framing, structure and vapor barrier, and contractors could caulk from the building’s interior before installing finishing materials. LEED Credit:

On-Site Renewable Energy

Identified Risk: Falls and overexertion are more likely from installing heavy PV panels, usually on the roof.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could place PV panels closer to the ground or keep them as far from the edge of the roof as possible. Higher parapets and designed tie-off points may also lessen the risk of falling.



LEED Credit: Enhanced Commissioning

Identified Risk: The presence of commissioners distracts workers, increasing risk of falls and injuries.

Suggested Mitigation: Commissioning agents could receive a site-specific orientation and be provided with personal protective equipment. Agents could be required to pass an OSHA safety course.

LEED Credit: Construction Waste Management

Identified Risk: “Dumpster diving” to retrieve mistakenly trashed recyclable materials increases risk of sprains and cuts.

Suggested Mitigation: Suggested solutions include utilizing a third-party, local waste management company to sort the recyclable material offsite, using multiple, smaller waste receptacles around the construction site, or creating an industry-wide, color-coded labeling system to differentiate recycling from trash.

LEED Credit: Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring

Identified Risk: Time spent at heights to wire and mount the permanent monitoring system increases risk of falls.

Suggested Mitigation: This risk may be eliminated by incorporating the monitoring equipment into the prefabrication process.

LEED Credit: Construction IAQ Management Plan Identified Risk: A higher risk of falls and overexertion occurs from increased ladder time maintaining ductwork.

Suggested Mitigation: Using different materials for the prefabricated “caps” on the ends of the duct, such as a universal magnetic cap, may make installation less awkward and therefore quicker and easier. Also suggested was the off-site fabrication of ductwork for longer sections to decrease time spent on the ladder.



LEED Credit: Low-Emitting Materials—Adhesives/Sealants

Identified Risk: Oftentimes, “rework” is needed due to the lower quality low-emitting adhesives and sealants used. The added time spent at heights, performing overhead work and exposure to construction dust creates a heightened risk for workers.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers and contractors could work together to find available products that meet Rule #1168 while also standing up to expected temperatures and compatibility to other construction materials used. This would eliminate the need for added “rework.”

LEED Credit: Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control

Identified Risk: Workers have a heightened risk to fall hazards due to overhead work and working at heights during piping and ductwork installation.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could install HVAC systems under the floor so they’re easier to install and maintain.

LEED Credit: Controllability of Systems—Lighting

Identified Risk: Complex wiring associated with occupancy sensors and timing controls increase risk of electrical shock to workers. Additional time spent wiring these systems at heights increases the risk of falls.

Suggested Mitigation: Some elements of the systems could potentially be prefabricated, decreasing time spent working with the wires onsite. Designers might locate sensors at reachable heights rather than on ceilings to eliminate time spent of ladders.

LEED Credit: Daylight and Views: Daylight 75% of Spaces

Identified Risk: Large skylights, windows or atriums increase time spent working near large, exposed openings at great heights.

Suggested Mitigation: Designers could create a courtyard to meet the requirements or minimize the depth of the building as an alternative to atriums and skylights. If these elements are included, additional precautions could be taken, such as blocking off areas below overhead work, using equipment such as man lifts and scissor lifts when possible and using tie-offs and barriers near exposed openings.

Katie Frasier is a freelance construction writer and social media specialist in charge of promoting jobsite safety. She has a background in magazine journalism and has previously written for a number of national publications. Reach her at  www.workboots.com or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Retrofits Always "Greener?"

As a new study from the Preservation Green Lab [part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation] shows, the answer is “a resounding ‘usually.’”
 
Turns out, the question of building reuse is much more nuanced and interesting than can be answered with an blanket strategy – which is not at all surprising. Whether an existing building should be retrofitted or demolished is a question of use [both previous and planned], climate, construction type/materials, etc – and also a clear understanding of carbon footprinting:  “Since it can take decades for a new building to “pay back” its embodied carbon through improvements in operational efficiency (see “A 2030 Challenge for Building Product Manufacturers,” EBN Feb. 2011), this study’s conclusions about carbon emissions should come as no surprise: based on climate-change considerations alone, almost every useable building in every region of the U.S. should remain standing—even if these buildings are not retrofitted to improve energy performance.
 
Carbon payback time for the buildings studied ranged from 10 to 80 years.”  In any case, studies like this should have a big impact on how we think of using, and reusing, our existing urban fabric – both as designers, and as people with a vested interest in legitimate, effective responses to climate change.  -Marilyn.

Green - Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line

Historic Buildings May Be Greener Than You Think

By JOANNA M. FOSTER

The Henry Street Settlement headquarters on the Lower East Side is undergoing a green retrofit.

The Henry Street Settlement headquarters on the Lower East Side is undergoing a green retrofit. Henry Street Settlement The Henry Street Settlement headquarters on the Lower East Side is undergoing a green retrofit.

Green: Living

In New York City, a conflict has long been perceived between historic preservation and urban sustainability goals. Older buildings are often seen as outdated energy hogs that can’t pull their weight, efficiency-wise, in a city that is expected to add a million new residents by 2030. About 55 percent of the city’s 838,337 buildings were constructed before 1940, half a century before the notion of green LEED building certification was even dreamed up. Estimating that the building sector is responsible for 75 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s sustainability plan for New York, made improving the performance of older buildings a top priority. To help get the process started, the Municipal Art Society announced last week that it is working on a “greening” manual for owners of historic buildings protected by landmark status that will be available online at no cost this fall.

“Greening New York City’s Landmarks: A Guide for Property Owners” is a collaboration between the society, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the architects Cook + Fox and the environmental consulting firm Terrapin. Some 29,000 buildings in New York City are now protected through designations by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Despite prevailing conceptions, said Lisa Kersavage, the senior director for preservation and sustainability at the society, many historic buildings actually already incorporate energy-efficient design features — a legacy of having been built before the advent of cheap energy and modern mechanical systems. In those days, natural ventilation and light and the collection of water in cisterns were standard in quality construction. The greening process is often more about optimizing existing elements, like ensuring that cross-ventilation isn’t inadvertently blocked, than about radical retrofits.

Many of the improvements suggested in the manual won’t even require a building permit or any special permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission but could reduce energy use by 20 to 25 percent, planners say. “Since so many rooftops in the city are flat, we’ve even been getting approval for solar panels for landmark buildings,” Ms. Kersavage said. If you can’t see it, it can’t disturb the aesthetic.” (One tricky renovation, however, is adding insulation to older buildings, which can effectively alter the internal dew point and lead to structural damage. Energy efficiency improvements that damage the long-term resilience of the building are rarely a worthwhile tradeoff.) On another preservationist front, a report released this week by the Preservation Green Lab pointed out that it can take up to 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to make up for the carbon dioxide expended during its construction. One might also keep in mind that New York City already generates 10 million tons of construction and demolition waste annually — 60 percent of its total waste stream.

“Retaining and repairing existing buildings, rather than just starting all over again, is by far the smartest approach,” Ms. Kersavage said. The Municipal Art Society is currently working on a historic retrofit demonstration project at the Henry Street Settlement headquarters on the Lower East Side.

Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed: Preview the Historic Knickerbocker Hotel's Modern Makeover.

The Knickerbocker, the iconic Beaux Arts hotel originally opened in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV, is set to reopen next Thursday, and we recently got a tour inside the historic building, where the construction crew is putting in the finishing touches. Though The Knickerbocker is an individual landmark, which means that the facade must be meticulously maintained down to the smallest detail, on the inside practically nothing original remains, and the hotel has received a sleek, modern renovation (to the tune of $240 million) feature a lot ofCarrera marble, gold leaf, and other very high-end finishes. So, while the hotel may not look anything like it did back when in the days when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee met the team's manager in the cafe to inform him that he was selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, or when the house bartender invented the martini (depending on who you believe), it will be similarly luxurious. The 330 rooms averaging 430 square feet apiece, will start at around $500-$700 per night.

Hand-applied gold leaf on the ceiling.

The cafe, located on the ground floor level, is evocative of a subway tunnel.

 

The last vestiges of the original building exist in the basement, which is being used for storage. In the olden days, the space was used for illicit gambling. The subway runs right on the other side of this wall, hence the subway tunnel-esque vertical bricks. The room with the subway wall, off the main basement storage room, is technically owned by the city and the MTA, but they don't have much use for it since the connecting door is no longer functional. The famous door between The Knickerbocker and the Times Square subway station, now bricked over, permanently.

 

 

It features original "skypods," which will function as VIP areas.

 

To read the full article and see all the images click here.

Evan Bindelglass reports for Curbed: Bronx Post Office Nears Its Future As a Dining and Retail Mecca.

The Bronx General Post Office is close to getting the go-ahead for rebirth. The grand 1937-built building on, well, the Grand Concourse, was designated an individual landmark in 1976. Its lobby, with 13 lovely New Deal-era murals, was designated an interior landmark in 2013.

In 2014, Young Woo & Associates paid $19 million to the U.S. Postal Service for the site, and yesterday the developer brought his plan—which includes a total revamp of use including office space, shops, restaurants, and a rooftop terrace—before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commissioners were mostly supportive of his ideas, but concerns did arise: chiefly, what will go on the roof, some of the signage, and proposed new stairwells near what is currently the loading dock. The Young Woo gameplan is to convert the now largely vacant building into retail and commercial space.

There would be a market with an entrance on the ground floor (which perhaps should be dubbed the basement, due to the topographic features of the Grand Concourse) as well as accessibility from the main floor. The main floor would also be home to new retail space, and room would be allocated for a small postal facility. The second floor and penthouse floor would be commercial office space. A new rooftop addition would have a restaurant (possibly a beer garden) with a terrace complete with retractable roof. The plan was designed by Jay Valgora of Studio V Architecture along with Cas Stachelberg of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners.

Because it's a landmark, drastic changes to the exterior wouldn't really fly. But there would be restorations for the exterior as well as the landmarked lobby, including its 13 murals. Originally, the lobby was entered through one of three vestibules. Over the years, those were removed and two of the swing doors were replaced with revolving doors. The proposal would have the revolving doors replaced with swing doors and the center vestibule would be restored. Also, three of the windows (every other one) would be extended down to create new entrance ways along 149th Street.

 
On the main floor, there is a plinth that extends around the building. The proposal, which seeks to have more people using the plinth overall, is for a small section of it to be connected by a stone staircase to the sloping sidewalk on 149th Street. Additionally, there would be two glass-and-steel staircasesconnecting the plinth to the existing loading dock area (which would mostly morph into an entrance for the new offices) along Anthony J. Griffin Place. Both the remaining loading dock doors and office entrance doors would have roll-down gates to protect them. The canopy would be retained, with signage and an extension away from the building added. The cobblestone would also be retained.
 
There would be new signs placed around the building, some of it freestanding, Commissioners deemed most of it acceptable, except for two pieces, both on the Anthony J. Griffin Place side of the building. One big sign would be near the top of the building and some felt it was just too big and was possibly unnecessary. The other sign at issue would be the one over the loading dock and office entrance. Rendered as "BRONX GENERAL POST OFFICE," it was centered over the office entrance, not centered on the canopy. Some of the commissioners felt it should be centered on the canopy. Worth noting is that the wording of that signage is not final.
 
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here was no objection to the new stairs being carved into the plinth to connect it to the sidewalk. The new steel-and-glass stairs down to Anthony J. Griffin place, however, were seen be several commissioners as unnecessary, given existing easy access to the different parts of the building.

Finally, there was the situation on the roof. The commissioners, who technically can't make any decisions based on use, liked the idea of a restaurant, but were concerned about the mass of such a structure. Since some of it will be visible by passers-by no matter what, it was hoped that it could be of a more uniform nature rather than a patchwork one. Simultaneously, the commissioners asked the applicant to see if it would be possible to reduce the height and increase the setback of the mechanical units. There was only one piece of public testimony delivered. A staffer delivered a statement of support from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Bronx Community Board 4 also supports the project. What happens now? The applicant will tweak his proposal and return to the LPC. At points during the two-hour-long hearing, it seemed like a decision would be made yesterday—but then chair Meenakshi Srinivasan asked the applicant to come back. In fact, she described it as a "really great project" and Commissioner Michael Goldblum, who represents the Bronx on the LPC, used the word "fantastic." Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said she had to "commend the work" and Commissioner Michael Devonshire called the proposal "admirable." So it's extremely likely the revised approval gets a thumbs up next time around. For the the full presentation to Landmarks click here.  

James Taylor-Foster reports for Archdaily: Five Teams Shortlisted To Restore Mackintosh’s Glasgow School Of Art.

It has been announced that five teams are the running to restore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s celebrated school of art in Glasgow. UK based John McAslan + Partners (who restored Mackintosh’s last major commission), Scottish practice Page \ Park, and London and Hong-Kong based architects Purcell are all in the frame to lead the restoration of the Mackintosh Building amid a debate over how best to approach the rebuilding of the library and the areas of the building that were devastated by fire in May of last year.

The selection of Avanti Architects and LDN Architects complete the rostra. Fourteen practices, from over one hundred initial expressions of interest, formally submitted documents in the first round of the tender. The five successful bidders now have nine weeks to put forward more detailed proposals and specific costings. The brief, which emphasises the GSA’s wish to use this opportunity to create an art school which is fit for the 21st century whilst still ackowleding and respecting the original listed building, allows the practices to decide whether or not to “pursue detailed reconstruction or a more creative response.” A spokeswoman talking to BDOnline asked: “do they turn the clock back to May 2014 when the fire broke out, to 1909 when Mackintosh signed it off, or a third way?”

According to Liz Davidson, Mackintosh Restoration Project Director at the GSA, “all of the shortlisted practices have a strong record in undertaking major restoration and work in historic buildings together with an impressive commitment to the use of new technology and the finest craftsmanship. They each bring the level of experience and expertise that is vital to the restoration of Mackintosh’s masterpiece. We are now looking forward to hearing more about their proposed approaches.” The final proposals will be put to a panel of GSA staff and external specialists in March. It is expected that the winner will be announced towards the end of March.  

Camile LeFevre reports for The Architect's Newspaper: Assembly Line. Architects retool a WWII-era steel works factory in Minneapolis.

Once a steel works facility, Minneapolis' Crown Center is getting a second act thanks to local Brewers and Designers.

Tucked behind the intersection of two rebounding thoroughfares in Northeast Minneapolis is the former Crown Iron Works, a steel works and factory that bustled with activity during World War II when much of it manufactured airplane wings, bridges, and pontoons. After lying dormant for decades, the complex is now the subject of an adaptive reuse plan to house the creative industries of the 21st century: architectural offices, design firms, and a microbrewery among them. Bauhaus Brew Labs now occupies one formidable 9,255-square-foot structure measuring 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. Designed by Shelter Architecture, the space includes new glass windows and skylights. The original overhead bridge crane—now a chassis for the electrical, plumbing, and beer lines—looms above the fermenting tanks in an open, spacious taproom.

The family-owned brewery is extremely brand conscious, choosing the Bauhaus movement in the design world to exemplify the innovation and care with which they craft their beer. Shelter specified orange, yellow, and blue accents and simple modern furnishings that carry the brand forward. “Whole families are welcome to Bauhaus,” said Kurt Gough, partner, Shelter Architecture, “so we wanted the space to be inviting and cheery. We also included a large garage door that opens to an outdoor patio.” The patio—where kids cavort, food trucks line up, and families dine and drink—also connects to another outdoor space, The Shed, which is a former impound lot for a towing company. The design of the partially covered 16,000-square-foot space was inspired in part by New York City’s High Line, says Michael Roehr, principal, RoehrSchmitt Architecture, “because of the magical way in which the High Line weaves its way through and engages the private spaces around itself.”

To “introduce green space into this very hard, cold, industrial complex, and ensure the project could compete with and complement the scale of the space,” said Roehr, he included raised concrete planters, large Cor-ten steel boxes (10 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall) and “other super-sized elements” like six-foot culvert sections repurposed as tree planters. “Placed into their context they feel appropriate to the scale of the space,” said Roehr. The architects removed selected metal roof panels to let in sun and rain. Several water tanks salvaged from a nearby factory collect rainwater and are used to drip irrigate the linear planters. Benches clip onto the garden wall. A stage between The Shed and Bauhaus’ beer garden hosts live music and other events. Meanwhile, an enclosed mezzanine space designed by RoehrSchmitt now houses Shelter’s architectural offices. RoehrSchmitt has its offices in Crown Center, as well. Adjacent to The Shed is a 15,520-square-foot industrial building that Kampa Studio is working on for modern furniture design firm Blu Dot. The revitalized space for offices and a showroom features floor-to-ceiling glass, exposed ceiling joists and trusses, a refinished concrete floor, and exposed brick. “Our destinies in this complex are intertwined,” said Roehr.

 

The building before conversion.