The latest news on New York architecture.


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Michael Cooper reports for The New York Times: Factory Conversion Moves Forward

The effort to turn a century-old sawdust factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, into an acoustically sound concert hall, recording studio, nightclub and center for composers is moving ahead, with organizers saying that they have raised the $16 million needed to finish construction. The space on North 6th Street, called the Original Music Workshop, has already drawn respected musicians and celebrities inside its weathered brick walls for concerts, even before it had a roof. Now its founder, Kevin Dolan, said that he had lined up what he called “philanthropic investors” to put up the money needed to finish construction.

It is an unusual arrangement. Mr. Dolan said that the investors would become part owners of the building, which they would allow the Original Music Workshop, a nonprofit, to use rent-free. In the future they could then give their shares to the workshop, sell them to the workshop, or sell the building. Mr. Dolan, 62, said this would reduce the risk to people who might be reluctant to put money into a new organization without a long track record. He added that the space could open as soon as the fall of 2015.

Jessica Dailey reports for Curbed: For 'Newer, Odder' Buildings, Historic Preservation Is Tough

During discussions of why the American Folk Art Museum, and its geometric cooper and bronze facade, could not be incorporated into the Museum of Modern Art's expansion, one of the architects working on the expansion plan called the Folk Art Museum's design, "bespoke," meaning "that the architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien fitted it so artfully to their client's needs that it won't meet anyone else's."

As such, preservation efforts failed to save the American Folk Art Museum, and MoMA is now demolishing the structure. In light of this, New York archicritic Justin Davidson takes a look at six other "newer, odder" buildings that may one day be (or already have been) in the same position as the soon-to-be gonemuseum:

1) U.N. Secretariat Building, by Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier, and Wallace Harrison: Davidson notes that the idea of tearing down the building was considered when the U.N. created its masterplan for upgrading the site, but "the U.N.'s Vatican-like aversion to change—plus a desire to avoid the international arguments that a new structure would foment" ultimately saved the building, leading to a $2.1 billion renovation instead.

2) O'Toole Building, by Albert Ledner: This odd bunker-like "over-bite" building was almost torn down in 2008 so St. Vincent's could build a bigger complex, but the hospital closed before that could happen. Now, it's being turned into an emergency medical center, "its architectural identity crisply restored."
3) 2 Columbus Circle, by Edward Durell Stone: Now home to the Museum of Art and Design, 2 Columbus Circle was originally a marble-clad building with a curved façade, Venetian motifs, and a loggia at the top. People really hated it when it opened in 1964, and by the 1990s, Landmarks wouldn't even consider it. So the museum gut renovated it and completely changed the façade, creating the glass zig-zagging design that now exists.
4) Fifth Avenue Apple Store, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson: It's hard to imagine that someone would want to Landmark this glass box, but Davidson points out that the structure "accomplishes a staggering number of architectural tasks." But it's a rather fragile structure—a snowblower shattered a pane this winter, and it cost $450K to replace—so if Apple ever vacates the space it would probably be demolished if it wasn't protected. 5) IAC Building, by Frank Gehry: The day will likely come when one of Frank Gehry's swooping, swirling creations is deemed a landmarked, but will that building be in NYC? And will it be the blue and white IAC building? IAC commissioned the structure, and Davidson says it "carries a message about the company's defiance of conventional wisdom. However, if IAC's empire should crumble, Diller retire, or tech get square, who will cherish Gehry's folly?"
6) Queens Public Library, by Steven Holl: This building isn't even a reality yet, but continuous delays with the Hunters Point project lead Davidson to believe it's "potentially compromised" already. "The process for public building being a tortured one, the architecture could go all stolid by the time it's built, and the conventional wisdom on book spaces is likely to have changed by then, too."
The Architect's Newspaper:
Crit> Alternative Domino Proposal. Recounting the bittersweet history of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory, Molly Heintz says the city deserves better.
To those of us in the neighborhood, long-suffering Domino feels more like a person than a project. Reborn as a development site in 2004, the defunct sugar refinery complex on the Williamsburg waterfront has gone through a rocky childhood. For the last decade, controversy has surrounded its use and financing. Now, Domino is about to enter what’s sure to be an awkward adolescence—now that the City Council signed off on the latest deal proposed by developer Two Trees and supported by the New York City Planning Commission, the 11 acres will become a construction site through at least 2023.
The result would be 3 million square feet of offices, retail, and residential space housed in a series of buildings designed by the architecture firm SHoP. City Hall is already high-fiving, but city leaders should consider that now and in the future the communities in all five boroughs deserve better.
Recent press around Domino has focused on the increase in affordable housing units hammered out between Two Trees and the City. The current deal, spearheaded by planning commissioner Carl Weisbrod and deputy mayor for housing and economic development Alicia Glen, has been hailed as a coup for the de Blasio administration. Two Trees agreed to 700 affordable units, an increase from 660, or 30 percent of the planned 2,200 units. But at what price? More square feet. And that continues to be the rub for members of the community: the project’s sheer scale compared to its context. Two trees claims the project scale—the tallest building is now 55 stories—is contextual if compared to the neighboring Williamsburg Bridge, a flawed point of reference when current zoning requires buildings just off the waterfront to be six stories or less.
Despite SHoP’s new design, other serious scale-related questions still linger. For example, the 2010 Environmental Impact Study lists building shadows as an “unavoidable adverse impact.” A 2013 follow-up report revising the findings in light of the SHoP plan states that the shadows will be better, faint praise considering the widespread gloom that would have been generated by the previous scheme. It is also a claim that should now be revisited given the new building heights and the fact that diagrams representing a wintertime afternoon timeframe—when shadows would be worst—are omitted from the 2013 report. The shadows are still severe and will make a large chunk of Williamsburg feel like a village stuck in a deep alpine valley. Transit, traffic, and pedestrians are on a list of other issues requiring mitigation thanks to the outsized project.  
Raising these concerns are not just to-be-expected NIMBY objections. A lower income neighborhood until the last decade, Williamsburg and its residents do not have the PR reach or sense of entitlement to speak up that money buys in New York. The community understands firsthand the value of development and the need for affordable housing, but the issue for many residents is a much bigger one: the feeling that Domino is a major lost opportunity for the city.
The community group Williamsburg Independent People, exploring alternative ideas, commissioned Jens Holm of HAO/Holm Architecture Office (full disclosure: Jens Holm is the author’s spouse) to help envision a plan that includes the same amount of affordable housing and retail, plus more public space. Recognizing the unique history and situation of the site, this financially self-sustaining scheme takes a page from the adaptive reuse of a London power plant that became a powerhouse cultural attraction, the Tate Modern. It is a plan that doesn’t just benefit the neighborhood or one borough, but would have long-term economic ripple effects for the entire city.
Above all, it underscores the possibility that affordable housing might be able to take forms other than as the stepchild to luxury condos. Disappointingly, architecture critics writing about the SHoP proposal over the past year have stayed focused not on the larger context but the architectural aesthetics, waxing poetic about watching the sun rising in the monumental “O-shaped” building or noting how the new skyline spells “Ooh.” Sure, that is the way it looks if you are sitting in Manhattan. From the Brooklyn side it spells “Hoo.” As in, ha, ha. This is bigger than Two Trees and SHoP.
It is a question of where the city’s loyalties truly lie. Local government should represent not just individuals but be the caretaker of neighborhoods. The balance sheet may now add up in a more equitable way, but looking beyond the numbers, the city still comes up short. Failing to acknowledge the impact on the urban fabric is a problematic precedent for the de Blasio administration, and the City Council should realize that Domino will cast a long shadow.

Nice to see such a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts Architecture is part of an Adaptive Reuse project.

Karissa Rosenfield reports for Archdaily: LAN Chosen to Revamp Paris’ Grand Palais


After a nine-month long competition, LAN Architecture has been commissioned to restructure and extend the historic Grand Palais in Paris. With the intent to “restore the building’s original coherence and sense of transparency,” LAN plans to revamp the 1900 World’s Fair building by resorting its unity and circulation, as well as the volume of its galleries around the Grand Nave and the addition of a new entrance court.

From LAN: The New Grand Palais: An Example of Modernity 

To our contemporary eyes, the Grand Palais is both an idea and a symbol of modernity. It is a hybrid building in terms of its architecture, its usage and its history. Neither a museum nor a simple monument, its architecture has an identity all its own, centered around the notion of a “culture machine,” a spatial means for hosting a vast diversity of events and audiences that exponentially exalts the site’s “universal” and “republican” vocation. The restoration and restructuring of the entire monument affords us the chance to reinforce this aspiration. The coming restructuring foresees the implementation of a new circulation mechanism centered around the middle building, the restoration of the galleries surrounding the Grand Nave, the installation of a climate control system, the creation of a logistics center, bringing the entire building up to code, and opening the large bay windows and passageways in order to restore the building’s original coherence and sense of transparency.

These interventions represent a unique opportunity to re-discover the traces and ways in which the Grand Palais has withstood the test of time, survived changes in its function, to assert architecture as a point of departure, and the space as nurturing life and society. Even though the initial reason for building the Grand Palais was to provide a site for presenting and promoting French artistic culture during the World’s Fair of 1900, the plan nevertheless envisioned durability and flexibility from the outset. Even though these many adaptations progressively complicated and depreciated certain parts of the Grand Palais, the intelligence of its general form and its original spatial intent have helped it survive these episodes and change with the times. Our credo for the New Grand Palais is to complete and strengthen its formal logic through interventions that return a sense of modernity to its whole, all the while respecting its traditional identity.

To read the whole article click here.  

Jeff Mays reports for DNAinfo.

The historic RKO Hamilton Theater may become luxury condos in exchange for the preservation and restoration of the interior theater as a community performance space. The possible deal comes as the owner of the landmarked theater, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, led by real estate mogul Ben Ashkenazy, sought support from Community Board 9 for its application with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to build a connector between the two buildings that make up the Hamilton Heights theater at Broadway and 146th Street.

At first, Ashkenazy, who purchased the building along with another building in Washington Heights for $19 million in 2012, considered creating retail space for a company such as Burlington Coat Factory in the former theater, which showed its last movie in 1958.

But the board and Harlem historian Michael Henry Adams proposed that the developer build condominiums on top of the theater instead, as a way of financing the preservation of the historic interior. "Since the luxury towers are going to come anyway, we might as well get something back for having to suffer these banal glass boxes," said Adams, author of "Harlem, Lost and Found."

Recent zoning changes to West Harlem make the construction of a tower there more feasible. The interior of the building was never landmarked. "What we want to see happen with this theater is to see it redeveloped and become a community resource," said Arnold Boatner, chairman of CB 9's Landmarks and Parks Committee. "There are a large number of performance artists in our community who don't have space." The Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, chairwoman of CB9, said the board would even support luxury housing at the site— often a contentious issue at Harlem community boards concerned about rapid gentrification.

The community board voted to support the new connector between the theater buildings, but with an unusually high number of abstentions. "If they say they will restore the theater, we will have to bend if they do all market-rate housing," said Morgan-Thomas. "This is about creating something that could be here 20 to 30 years from now."

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated the exterior of the building as a historic landmark in 2000, approved an application last Tuesday to add an addition between the two buildings that will be set back from the street and clad in brick to match the rear building. That addition is necessary to make the building usable, whether it ultimately becomes a retail or residential building. One of the factors in the commission's approval was that the building once had a passageway connecting the two structures.

Jeffrey A. Chester, an attorney with Gonzalez Saggio Harlan-LLP who represents Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, called the residential plan an ambitious one that might be difficult to pull off for a few reasons. Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation is primarily a commercial real estate company. The company has extensive commercial holdings with multiple buildings on Madison Avenue as well as Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. The company's initial proposal was to renovate the interior of the building for retail and leave the landmarked exterior alone. If the company decides to pursue residential development, it would likely have to partner with another firm.

Secondly, restoring the damaged theater would be quite expensive. The entire bottom floor of seats is missing and the building has peeling paint and graffiti after suffering years of water leaks and neglect. "The owner is looking at it but what they have proposed is extraordinarily ambitious and would require variances and approval from landmarks beyond what we initially considered," Chester said. "The question remains: Is there a viable market to keep that theater busy enough to pay for itself?

I don't know if a nonprofit theater group will pay the freight to make this work." Yuien Chin, of the Hamilton Heights-West Harlem Community Preservation Organization, said she envisions a dynamic organization running the space who would be able to create the high-level programming and financial partnerships necessary to make it self-sufficient. "I don't think it's a situation of 'build it and they will come,'" said Chin. "The demand for a performance and visual arts space, not to mention a banquet hall for dances and receptions, is already here."

The now-decrepit building and theater is worth saving because of its history, said Adams. Commissioned by vaudeville operator Benjamin S. Moss and theater developer Solomon Brill, the neo-Renaissance Revival-style structure was designed by Thomas Lamb, a prolific theater and cinema designer, and was completed in 1913. Vaudeville acts performed at the theater, using the space between the two buildings to bring in sets. In 1928, the theater was sold and became one of New York City's first movie houses.

Movies ceased to be shown at the 1,800-seat theater in 1958 and the space was then used as a disco, church and arena. The lobby of the theater was last used as a retail space for the El Mundo department store, which left a year and a half ago. The structure has been vacant since.

Matt Lambros, a Brooklyn photographer who gained access to the theater to take pictures in 2011 for his website After the Final Curtain, said he was pleasantly surprised to hear discussion about restoring the theater. "I assumed that one was going to go down," said Lambros, who has traveled the country photographing shuttered theaters. "It's still grand and in pretty good shape, so it should be easier to save than most old theaters."

Adams said there used to be several Lamb-built theaters on Harlem's west side but most have not survived. "These places survived close to 100 years and one by one they have all been wiped out," said Adams. "The Hamilton is one of the most beautiful Thomas Lamb theaters ever built and it should not be allowed to be swept away."  

Zoe Rosenberg reports for Curbed.

New renderings have emerged for the Red Hook warehouse conversion at 202 Coffey Street led by architects AA Studio (formerly Adjmi & Andreoli), BuzzBuzz Home reports. The 130,000-square-foot factory space was purchased in 2012 by Milan-based developer Est4te Four for $11.8 million. According to the developer's website, 202 Coffey Street formerly served as a production warehouse for "high-end women's handbags that were sold on 5th Avenue in the 1920's." In a 2012 interview with the Commercial Observer, Est4te Four's Alessandro Cajrati Crivelli said that the firm intended to restore the weathered 1889 complex to its former glory.

UPDATE: The renderings pictured above and below are actually three years old, despite being posted on AA Studio's Facebook page yesterday. A rep reached out to explain that they are simply fun conceptual ideas. Rather than add any glass appendages to 202 Coffey Street, as depicted in the outdated renderings, the architects plan to renovate the building sans additions. That means there will be no new construction.

The building currently features wooden trusses and ceiling heights as heigh as 55 feet. In its conversion, the factory's existing courtyard will be opened up. The space will serve as a creative complex of art studios and galleries. The architect's design includes an eight-story contemporary building that "reflects the industrial characteristics of the existing buildings." It's a far cry from the vast, desolate warehouse we toured in 2012. An AA Studio rep said the renovation will include new contemporary windows, new steel doors, landscaping in the old courtyards, new concrete floors, repointed bricks, sandblasted wood trusses, and new skylights, all of which will bring the building back to its original state.


A cast-iron structure is restored with traditional and contemporary materials and construction techniques.
 Jack Kucy
Scott Henson Architect with Gilsanz Murray Steficek Local Law 11/98 is a New York City statute mandating that any building of more than six stories must have its facade inspected once every five years. Scott Henson of Scott Henson Architect was undertaking just such an inspection on the historic 1892 Cleverdon & Putzel–designed Banner Building in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood when he discovered something rather disturbing. The structure’s cast iron face—both its decorative elements, many of which had fallen off over the years, as well as its structural supports and bracing—was severely corroded. The condition was even worse on the top two floors, an 1898 addition that featured sheet metal decorative elements, which had deteriorated to the point that, in places, a person could press their fingers through them. Making matters even shabbier, the sandstone pilasters that framed the facade’s cast iron bands had worn down to a faded memory and the original single-paned wood windows had decayed beyond repair. The building owner and the project team, which included structural engineering firm Gilsanz Murray Steficek and historical research firm Office for Metropolitan History, agreed that the only way to proceed was to restore the facade by making every effort to adhere to its original materials and traditional means of construction.
The restoration team relied on a combination of traditional and contemporary materials and construction techniques. The cast iron and sheet metal facade was removed, repaired or re-fabricated, and replaced with new structural connections.
One of the chief causes of the facade’s decline, aside from time itself, was severe water leakage, which had caused the original structural imbeds connecting the cast iron and sheet metal elements to the masonry backing wall to rust to a critical state. The team removed all of the metal elements and inspected them carefully. This analysis revealed that about 80 percent of the cast iron could be reconditioned and replaced on the building. This involved stripping the elements of the ten or so layers of paint that had been applied over the years and patching the odd non-fatal crack with Belzona Supermetal epoxy. Those elements that were beyond repair, or missing, were recast by Robinson Iron in Alabama using samples of the original facade to create new molds. The sheet metal was in worse shape. Approximately half the elements, including egg and dart frieze, scroll moldings, rosettes, and medallion reliefs, needed to be re-fabricated, a job tackled by CCR Sheet Metal in Brooklyn.
J. Scott Howell
Once all of the elements had been reproduced or repaired, they were painted patina green (the owner’s preference) and returned to the site, ready for installation. The team designed new structural supports for this purpose: structural stainless-steel bolts that pass all the way through the masonry backing wall and connect to plates on either side, holding the wall in compression. The sheet metal was attached and soldered together, and the cast iron was attached and caulked, making the whole assembly watertight and ready for another 100-plus years of life. The team also hired an artisan who was able to discern the original decorative character of the sandstone pilasters and re-create them with a sandstone patching material from Cathedral Stone. Replacing the 54 windows required a similarly close historical analysis of the existing conditions. The windows included pulley double-hung varieties and single pivoting sashes with transoms. J. Padin in New Jersey re-fabricated them based on the original historical profiles and materials. Here, however, 21st-century technology was also employed to improve the building’s insulation with high-performance glazing. As a final touch, the team also replaced the 1970s storefront. With little documentation available, Henson based a new design on what remained at street level as well as on clues implied by the fenestration above. The result is something of a rarity in Manhattan: a vintage cast iron building that retains its historic character from top to toe.
Aaron Seward
Sheet Metal CCR Sheet Metal Cast Iron Robinson Iron Historic Wood Windows J. Padin 973-642-0550 Sandstone Cathedral Stone
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The Cathedral Stone Newsletter

Historic Brick Wall Scheduled for Demolition Saved by Jahn M30 The Cathedral Stone Newsletter, July 2006

The condominium complex at 241 Eldridge Street was constructed in 1904 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Architect Scott Henson was hired by the condominium board to perform a full exterior analysis of the building. The analysis revealed a number of necessary repairs, including brick, window, and terra cotta replacement and repairs, mortar joint cutting and re pointing, as well as the replacement of the roof membrane and cornice. During removal of the parapet walls, the internal conditions of the brickwork and mortar were found to be severely deficient. The back-up masonry was loose laid in many areas with no mortar.

The failures of this building were directly attributed to the mortar. The mortar used in the original construction of this building consisted of a high-lime content resulting in little or no binding between the mortar and the bricks. The mortar within the walls was loose and powdery. Adverse weather conditions and poor maintenance over the life of the building accelerated the deterioration of the mortar. Several structural engineers were invited to the building to inspect conditions and provide recommendations. The consensus was that the walls required complete reconstruction from the ground up. This solution was prohibitively expensive for the building owners; therefore and extensive search was undertaken for an alternative solution to repair the internal condition of the walls. After the research and testing of many masonry techniques and products, including mechanical pinning, brick repair products and soil consolidation products, Cathedral Stone Products' Jahn M30 Micro Injection Grout was found. When injected, Jahn M30 will travel into the substrate and continue until it flows freely from this port and other ports at the same level. The ports are then sealed using non-staining clay, sealant, or caulk. A series of injection ports must be drilled on the face of the substrate to create a "drill frame." Ports should be drilled in a downward direction. Cathedral Stone Products, Inc. supplied Jahn M30 Injection Grout for a test area. Cathedral Stone Products representatives, including Dan Perakes, conducted the initial testing on the building. A second and larger test was performed to confirm initial results. This test involved injecting the Jahn M30 into specific areas in the walls to determine whether or not the repair process was going to work. Jahn M30 again proved successful. Extensive testing was performed until the correct installation procedures and amounts of grout required were determined to consolidate the existing lose, powdery mortar, to fill the voids between the internal brickwork, and ultimately to provide a structurally stable building. It was originally thought that the cost to replace the exterior walls would be an estimated $1.8 million. The repairs would have to be completed section by section. Because of the success of Jahn M30 the entire project cost was $106,000 saving the owners over $1.6 million. Scott Henson Architects hired Viles Contracting Corporation to complete the repairs. From February 9th to April 22nd, 2005, they drilled 1,435 holes into the building and pumped in 1,280 gallons of the M30 Injection Grout. After 241 Eldridge Street was completed, the project was featured in the NY Times and drew interest from the engineers with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). They wanted to look at the project to see if the repair method was a viable alternative for maintaining their buildings. They met with both Cathedral Stone Representatives as well as Scott Henson. In the summer of 2005, CSP successfully completed Jahn M30 Injection test of the New York City Housing Authority. They are currently monitoring the tests and are considering using the method of restoration for future projects.         Go to Cathedral Stone Newsletter
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The Wall (Didn’t) Come Tumbling Down A new product solves an old problem. Jody Shen (Additional reporting by Jennifer Wu)

The sky wasn’t falling but the wall was a definite possibility. That was the dilemma facing 241 Eldridge Street, a 12-unit condominium on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, about two-and-a-half years ago. But thanks to a bit of detective work and the discovery of a product relatively new to the U.S., the board found an affordable answer. It was during routine parapet repair work that the problem was uncovered: the contractor discovered that the internal mortar between the exterior wall’s bricks had turned to sand. Such a finding had not been anticipated in the repair plan because the inspection report the board had commissioned was for the cornice, bulkhead, and fire escapes. The solution seemed dire: spending about $1.8 million to replace the exterior walls, section by section. Even if raising the money were possible (and it would be a strain for the 12 apartment owners however it was done), the financial hardship of large assessments seemed daunting. However, the flip side would have been equally grim: do nothing and risk the walls coming down on their own. That didn’t seem like a great alternative, either. “To have not done anything would have left us with questions, doubt, and possible peril,” explains Robin Schanzenbach, the president of the condo’s five-person board. David Bergman, a board member and professional architect, recalls that his thoughts started to turn to what could shake his building enough to bring it crashing down. Subway vibrations? Nearby construction? An unlikely – but not impossible – Manhattan earthquake? Seeing that completely replacing the building’s walls would be more or less impossible financially, Scott Henson, the building’s architect, started looking for a solution. Possibilities included products used to stabilize dirt at construction sites and a variety of restoration products. He tested HTC, a chemical used to preserve marble statues that had been invented by Norman Weiss, a professor of historic preservation at Columbia University. That solution failed because it needed to interact with oxygen, which couldn’t find its way into the thick walls. Then Henson stumbled upon a product called Jahn M30 Micro-Injection Grout, manufactured by Jahn International of Germany and distributed by Cathedral Stone Products. It had been utilized on large projects in Europe but, according to Dennis Rude, the president of the Hanover, Maryland-based distributor, it had only been used in the U.S. for small jobs, such as the repair of cracking walls. The National Park Service is using it to fix a cornice on the historic Ryan Center at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Often, Rude notes, to solidify walls in situations like the one at 241 Eldridge Street, contractors will repoint. According to Henson, repointing was not enough for this project because that would only address the surface, about three-quarters-of-an-inch deep. (The Jahn M30 was ultimately used in conjunction with repointing.) The manufacturer supplied a small amount of Jahn M30 for a test. After that was successful, the condo spent about $10,000 for a larger test, which involved injecting the Jahn M30 into specific areas and opening the walls to see if it worked. That seemed to do the trick, reconsolidating the loose, sandy mortar, and filling the gaps. With the solution in hand, it still wasn’t easy. There was a question of money. Recalls board president Schanzenbach: “There are multiple factors in the finances related to the project. It is fair to say that, with the multiple engineering studies, testing, and architect’s fees, the mortar reconsolidation aspect of the project reached close to $140,000. That amount is lower than it might have been, however, because we had already started on a larger capital project to replace the roof, cornice, and parapets, and do pointing, so some of the major costs – such as scaffolding or the process of preparing extensive bid proposals for contractors – did not have to be incurred. Our active board involvement and the cooperation with the architect and contractor, who were already on the job, also helped keep the costs down.” Funds were used from the building reserve fund to help pay for the work, but more money was needed. According to the president, the unit-owners approved an additional assessment of $100,000. Each owner’s portion of the assessment was based on his or her percentage of ownership in the building. To pay for the assessment, some owners refinanced, while the surging apartment prices in New York enabled others to take out home equity loans. And, thanks to a multi-year financing plan, still others were able to pay in installments. After a short newspaper article on the repairs appeared in the spring, everyone involved, from Weiss – who called it a possible solution for “hundreds, maybe thousands of buildings” – to the distributor, began hearing from people in similar situations seeking help. Seven engineers from the New York City Housing Authority wanted to inspect the project to determine if the product and process would be effective in repairing aging public housing. They visited the job site and queried Henson and a representative from Cathedral Stone. They seemed impressed, Henson recalls, and said they planned to perform a test on some of their buildings. As for the condo’s board: after repairs on the sidewalk in front are finished, they will have spent $500,000 to finish a building revamp that began with a “cornice subcommittee” years ago and, with the wall repair, may have saved the building. There is still the dream of one day creating a roof deck, but for now, Bergman is happy that the “sky” isn’t in danger of falling anymore. Says he, with a sigh: “We can breathe for a while.”     Go to HABITAT MAGAZINE