The latest news on New York architecture.

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When Sidewalks Attack

Winter is over but it's effects are still taking a toll on our sidewalks. Due to New York winters, the chemicals and salt used to clear the snow from the streets damage the sidewalks. While it is necessary to clear the snow, the wear and tear of winter can do a number on our sidewalks.

You've seen them - uneven and cracked sidewalks. You may have even felt them by getting your heel caught in a crack or tripping over buckled concrete. When sidewalks attack, it's time to consider sidewalk replacement.

In order to fix your unsightly sidewalk, you should engage a professional firm that is experienced with the New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules and the repair and replacement of sidewalks and vaults.  

A sidewalk replacement project can involve:

  • Designing and specifying structural and paving details
  • Filing and obtaining necessary city agency permits
  • Contractor bidding and negotiation
  • Construction management

In addition to the basics listed above, many businesses and homeowners find that beautification is an important reason to engage a sidewalk replacement expert. 

By adding well-conceived paving plans that takes into consideration the types of materials that can best withstand traffic, you can improve the aesthetics of your building.  

A more attractive external appearance improves the sense of arrival for a visitor or customer, resulting in better foot traffic for a business.  Likewise, an appealing sidewalk-scape will contribute to the long-term value of your property.   

Scott Henson Architect specializes in sidewalk replacement, paving plans, and street tree designs. Contact us to start the conversation about using aesthetics to improve the value of your property.

New York City is a place with a rich history, a buzzing atmosphere, and commanding architecture.  Natives and travelers alike regularly walk past sites of historic and aesthetic value unaware of the potential that lines the block. Adaptive reuse in New York City is a viable option for those who are looking to place a new function, and get new value from a building or site.  

Adaptive reuse is the practice of refitting existing architecture to meet new needs. This form of urban revitalization is becoming more common due to the practical solutions it provides for many urban centers, but it has a long tradition with New York City.

Infrastructure reflects the growth and change of a population.  New York City has always embodied this principle by adopting new purposes for old buildings, while recognizing the history of the site. The High Line, a park on Manhattan's West Side, started out as an industrial freight line and now functions as a unique, cultural attraction that provides a window to the past.  An old printing press in Brooklyn was recently transformed into a creative work space for freelancers.  Many former industrial production sites across the city now serve as apartments, department stores, and restaurants.  Many of these sites preserve certain unique architectural traits.  This provides a quality that brings together the new function of the site with the existing character.

Adapting a new function for old buildings also cuts out several phases of the design and build process.  One of these is demolition.  This saves the architects and engineers from designing an entirely new building, and saves the client money.  It also creatively challenges the designers to meet the needs of the client, while utilizing the existing structure. 

Adaptive reuse has many benefits which have helped shape the character of New York City for over two centuries.  This practice is becoming more common, and is inspiring creative solutions for the use of old architecture.  To learn more, contact us.

Located on the lower west side of Manhattan, the Fleming Smith Warehouse is situated on the southeast corner of Washington and Watts Streets in the neighborhood now known as TriBeCa. Prior to its transformation into a commercial center during the mid-19th century, TriBeCa was among the first residential neighborhoods to develop beyond the boundaries of colonial New York City, with development beginning in the late 18th century.

In 1891 Stephen Decatur Hatch, a prolific and respected architect who would go on to design such important structures as the Princeton Club (1891) and the Former New York Life Insurance Company Building (1895), was contracted by Fleming Smith to design the warehouse in an amalgamation of Romanesque Revival and neo-Flemish architectural styles. Neo-Flemish design elements were popular during this time period and often freely combined with features of other European architectural styles as a nod to Manhattan’s Dutch roots. It originally functioned as a shoe factory and a storehouse for wine.

The most pronounced Romanesque elements of the Fleming Smith Warehouse façade are its rusticated stone base, segmental arches, and symmetrically grouped windows. The ground floor is characterized by roughly hewn stone: granite at the base with sandstone above, topped with a stone cornice.  The upper floors transition to yellow brick with red brick quoining at the corners with keyed enframements bordering each window grouping. The two upper floors are divided from the rest of the façade by an intricate sandstone water table.

The Watts Street façade is characterized by a central, highly ornamental copper-trimmed gable flanked by two crow-stepped gables at each corner, intricate wrought iron balconies and two projecting dormer windows clad in decorative copper. The Washington Street façade is crowned with a fanciful copper-lined stepped central gable above a large segmental arched window flanked by two more projecting copper dormers.  The central gable is adorned with the initials “FS” and the date “1891,’ fabricated in copper.  The peaks of each dormer were once adorned with large decorative copper finials, duplicates of which are currently in the process of being fabricated and restored at all former locations. This Warehouse, with its handsome combination of architectural elements and its picturesque silhouette, is a visually striking building and enhances the commercial area surrounding it.

In the late 1970’s, the Fleming Smith Warehouse became the first commercial building in TriBeCa to be converted for residential use. In 2005, a complete façade restoration was performed by Scott Henson Architects, LLC.

If you own an historic building, please contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with repairs, restoration and preservation.

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Compliance With Local Law 11 Cycle 8

New laws are often enacted after there has been some sort of tragedy. Local Law 10, later 11, is no exception.

In 1980, a piece of masonry fell from a building and a pedestrian was killed. To help prevent this from happening again, The New York City Council amended the building code. Building exteriors now had to be inspected by a properly licensed engineer or architect. This was called the Local Law 10 of 1980.

The Local Law 10 of 1980 was amended and became the Local Law 11 of 1998. It is also referred to as "FISP," the Facade Inspection Safety Program.  It represents the oldest enforced facade inspection law in the nation, with over 12,500 buildings falling under its jurisdiction. 

There have been different inspection cycles under this law. Cycles 1 through 7 ran from the inception of the law until February, 2013. The current Cycle 8 began February 21, 2015 and will run until February 21, 2019.

These rules apply to buildings that are higher than 6 stories in height. If there is a question whether inspection and reporting is applicable, there is a website where the current FISP status can be checked. That website is here. The exterior walls and appurtenances must be checked by a licensed inspector, a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). There is a two-year window within which this inspection must be done, and this window cycles every 5 years. All exterior walls must be examined.

There is a Critical Report that must be filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). The classifications in the resultant report are Safe, Unsafe, or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP).

  • Safe applies to a building that will not become unsafe within the next five years
  • Unsafe is a condition of a building wall, any appurtenances thereto, or any part thereof, that is hazardous to persons or property and requires prompt repair." An unsafe condition must be corrected within 30 days. Extensions are permitted if certain conditions are met.
  • SWARMP is something that is safe at the time of inspection, but will need repair or maintenance within the next five years.

There are filing fees that apply to these reports.

When it comes to Cycle 8, there have been some changes that affect report filings.

  1. Prior to Cycle 8, if an air conditioner was considered unsafe, that designation then applied to the whole building. Now, an unsafe air conditioner is permitted a SWARMP designation. 
  2. Reports must now be filed within 60 days of completion, or a new examination is required.  This keeps reporting up-to-date and accurate.
  3. The third change involves fees. If a report has been rejected twice, a new fee is charged to cover the cost of the third report review.

If you are still finishing taking care of business from Cycle 7, it is time to finish that now. The Sub-Cycle 8A runs from February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2017.  If your building comes up for inspection, and you still not have completed a Cycle 7 SWARMP, well, you can see the potential problem. Cycle 7 repairs need to be completed now.

Contact us so we can help you come into compliance with Local Law 11, Cycle 8, as well as complete any Cycle 7 repairs.

Today's vegetated roof systems are not the old log cabin with a sod roof. They include a waterproofing layer, drainage, growing media, and plants.

Today's vegetated roof system, or green roof, offers many benefits. A concentration of vegetated roof systems in an urban area can reduce a city's average temperature during the summer. A vegetated roof system can lower heating and cooling costs, help to insulate a building for sound, filter and reduce rain runoff, increase real estate value, and increase the life of a roof. It can even attract beneficial insects, birds, bees, and butterflies.

There are three types of these systems: extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive.

Extensive is the least expensive and the lightest weight. Generally 2" to 5" deep and planted with sedum, moss, or grass, they require the least maintenance at once or twice a year.

Semi-intensive vegetated roof systems require a deeper soil layer, but more types of plantings are used. In addition to the mosses, grasses, and Sedum of extensive roofs, semi-intensive plantings include herbs, flowering plants, taller grasses, and small shrubs. These plants require maintenance at least every month.

Intensive gardens require the deepest soil, but they also accommodate all types of plantings, including large shrubs and trees. Maintenance of a vegetated roof system of this type is ongoing.

One thing you must consider is the structural load, which is the saturated weight of the plants at maturity, and the weight of the people who will be on the roof.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cost of a green roof to start at $10 to $25 per square foot.

 Please contact us for more information on this green alternative.

When you live in New York City, every little bit of space you can use is important. This includes rooftop spaces, and when you entertain frequently on your roof you need to be mindful of what could go wrong. So if you are in need of roof repairs in New York City, you should contact the professionals.

Understand Your Roof's History

It's important to know whether or not the roof of your building was ever designed for people. For example, when the building was originally designed, it may not have accounted for 20 or more people standing on it at the same time. This means that over time, the roof may be compromised by the excessive wear and tear from people.

Protect Your Roof

If the roof is used as a social space, be sure to implement a plan in order to keep it clean and protected. This means that you shouldn't leave bottles, cans, or other kinds of trash on the roof. By removing any trash or even furniture that sits on the roof, you can help to prevent it from clogging any drains, getting stuck in any vents, and from simply damaging the roof itself.

Finding Damage

When on the roof, it's also important to look around. If you notice any damage, such as separation of materials, trash stuck in places where it should not be, you need to get it fixed. By finding problems when they are small or just starting, you can save your money in the end, because you keep the problem from becoming too big and expensive.

Roofs are not only functional as part of your building, but can add additional entertaining space. In order to fully enjoy the space, you must be responsible and take care of it. To learn more about how we can help you if your roof is in need, please contact us.

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Foundation Reconstruction and Repairs

Time and construction often take their toll on buildings. Older buildings often cannot handle modern construction or elements and need to be repaired or reinforced. Vault and foundation reconstruction is a procedure that has the potential to be very costly. Some buildings require to be reinforced rather than be totally reconstructed, but this is not always the case. Many reasons surround the need for foundation reconstruction and many solutions exist to aid in this reconstruction.

Why a Foundation Needs Repair or Reconstruction

There is a multitude of reasons as to why a building needs routine repairs and reinforcements. A bulged or cracked wall is an indication that the very foundation of a building is not very solid. Professionals are able to detect the means necessary to repair or reinforce these cracks. However, if a problem cannot be addressed without excavating a wall or foundation, reinforcement is out the window and the need for the entire reconstruction of the foundation is in.

Of course, it is far more costly to reconstruct a foundation than it would be to repair or reinforce it. This often deters people from allowing the reconstruction to be done. It is important to note that an entire building can crumble if the foundation is not stable or properly built to support it. A one-time cost is surely better than a long-term or permanent problem.

Pilasters are common tools for repairing a building's foundation. Pilasters are typically preventative measures to take against a foundation cracking further. They add stability to a foundation that does not have a lot of damage.

Steel I and U-beams are used on foundations with minor damage as a result of movement. They are like pilasters and they add stability to a foundation. They also assist in preventing further damage.

Foundation anchors are used in more serious circumstances. These tools anchor a damaged wall to surrounding soil. This, of course, prevents movement and further damage from taking place.

To conclude, vault and foundation reconstruction or repairs are necessary for all buildings. Historic buildings especially need constant maintenance to ensure that common damage does not have the potential to become a more serious problem.

For more information on vault and foundation reconstruction, please contact us today.

Raising awareness of the harmful effects of using our natural resources in the large amounts that we do has become the norm in today's society. People have changed the way that they use energy--including how they design buildings. Renewable energy roof designs are incredibly beneficial to both the environment and to property owners. Areas like New York City have been taking advantage of these roof designs and the effects of doing so are proving to be endless.

Renewable energy roofing is typically constructed with solar panels. These panels collect the sunlight throughout the day, which drastically cuts the cost of using electric lights in houses, stores, office buildings, and even hospitals. Studies have also shown that this method has improved the general mood of humans as a result of the vitamin D produced by the sun. This, of course, stimulates productivity in the workplace and improves the overall quality of living for all people.

It is no secret that the use of solar panels drastically reduces carbon footprints, as well. This renewable energy has also proven to reduce the heat island effect experienced in urban areas. This effect is when urban areas are significantly warmer as a result of human activities. Reducing the effect allows areas to remain populated and busy without further harming the environment.

Financially, this style of roofing saves property owners heating and electric costs, which is crucial in snowy, rainy New York City. Renewable energy roof designs also increase property value and are generally appealing in all aspects.

For more information on green roofing, renewable energy roofing, or our other services, please contact us today.

When you hear the term interior design, what comes to mind? If you think that interior design is all about decor, you're only half right. Here are a few things you need to know about the art of NYC building interior design:

Some architects are interior designers, but not all interior designers are architects

Architects and interior designers are well-trained professionals, and both must be licensed to work in the state of New York. Each is an integral part of any new home project. Their jobs coordinate, but do not entirely overlap.

Architects are responsible for program planning. Architects put together floor plans and room adjacencies. It is the architect who facilitates the 'flow' between rooms. It is also the architect who analyzes the environment of the site. An architect ensures code compliance and coordinates team members to manage the integration of technical structural systems such as electricity and plumbing.

Interior designers coordinate with architects to plan indoor spaces. An interior designer may help to select building materials and colors to be incorporated in the architect's elevations. Flooring finishes, cabinetry, door styles, task lighting and fireplaces may be selected by the interior designer.

If the person for whom a structure is being designed has specific furniture in mind, the interior designer will collaborate with the architect to design room layout and facilitate traffic patterns.

When you choose Scott Henson Architect to be your design firm, you enjoy the ease of working with one company that manages every aspect of architecture and interior design. We specialize in creating structures that are beautiful, sound and highly functional.

If you'd like to know more about building interior design in New York City, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Throughout the centuries, man's story has been represented in many aspects. Whether it is through his ancient writings, artifacts or in archaeological sites, man's imprint is undeniable.  With each new discovery, another chapter unfolds shedding more light on the everyday lives of our ancestors. 

History has, for the most part, dictated the styles, construction modes and uses of homes throughout the world. Each building, from our past, has a story to tell. Commercial buildings can represent the industry that was prevalent during a particular era, while residential homes can portray the wealth or poverty of the region or time.  During the early periods of history, timber was a common use for constructing homes. As time went by, new means of construction material came into use, such as, brick, stone, steel, etc. The introduction of these materials meant man could rethink the building process and construct even more structures suitable to his current needs.

Through the preservation of historic structures, we can study the different periods of our history and allow ourselves a look into our past. These structures are used as a time capsule in order for us to learn the techniques and materials utilized by the craftsmen of the time. These invaluable lessons are essential when it comes to the preservation of historic buildings.

It is extremely important that we preserve our old buildings. They truly are our connection to our past, and here at Scott Henson Architect, we are committed to preserving the historical integrity of historic structures.   

Please contact us if you have any questions about our services or if you are ready to take on a historic building project. 

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