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The world we live in is obsessed with vintage meeting modern. A common hobby is often restoring antique items, and making them seemingly brand new. Few often ponder the work that goes into doing this, and sometimes chalk restoration up to simply being a new coat of paint. There is a whole process that goes into the preservation and restoration of historical buildings, however, and it is quite interesting. 

Construction cannot simply be delved into, but instead, must be planned out first. This leads into the debate on linear versus phased construction. Essentially, which is the best for this project? Well, the answer is typically both when dealing the restoration of a historical building.

Figuratively so, linear construction is traditional. This undergoes meticulous planning, and all of the bases get covered. It is a slower process, but it is important to remember that the original plans for a historical building were, in fact, slower, as well. Linear construction basically leaves little to no room for error, as everything is thoughtfully planned out. Of course, linear construction covers the vintage side of things quite nicely.

Phased construction, on the other hand, is very fast-paced. The construction of a building has already started when the final phases are still being planned out. Basically, it is the execution of an idea, without the idea being completely finished. It is seemingly more risky, but is the most popular method in the construction world today. As you can tell, it is the modern aspect of the restoration of historical buildings.

With all of this in mind, the argument of linear versus phased construction still stands. It is safe to say that, though, that choosing an expert on both types of construction, is essential. With over 25 years of experience, Scott Henson is the architectural expert you are looking for.

If you have experienced leaks, mold, or excess dust in your building, you may need building envelope repair.  

The building envelope is what protects the interior space from the elements and includes the building's roof, walls, windows, doors, and foundation. This outer shell protects a building's interior from water damage and outside air.

Water leaking through a building envelope can cause expensive and dangerous damage. For instance, if water leaks through the roof or gets trapped in a wall, the standing water can rot the building's support beams and endanger their structural integrity. Wood rot can allow mold to grow, which in turn can aggravate allergies and smell bad.

When air flow from outside is not controlled by the building envelope, the result is higher heating and cooling costs, as well as potential damage from dust and dirt. Variations in interior temperature can exacerbate water damage as well. For example, if the building's air conditioning system isn't able to keep the air cool and dry, mold may grow more quickly.

Signs that you may need building envelope repair:

  • Leaks
  • Water stains or damage
  • Groaning, spongy floors
  • Moldy or musty odor
  • Peeling wallpaper or paint

The longer you ignore the signs, the more you will pay for repairs.

We specialize in restoration and repair of New York City building envelopes. Because this work is most often completed while a building is occupied and open for business, it's important to work with a contractor that is sensitive to your needs. We work with building owners to complete these important repairs without disrupting day-to-day operations, either during off-hours or on an accelerated schedule.

Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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Interior Architecture in Adaptive Reuse

When you think of architecture, city skylines probably come to mind - the exterior appearance of buildings is what people usually associate with an architect's work.  However, there is another side of the field: interior architecture

Not to be confused with interior decorating, interior designers or architects design interior space that is bound by existing structures (walls, beams, doors) and equally restricted by human interaction (how people will use the space).  

Interior architects need a working knowledge of a wide range of subjects:

  • Building code
  • Structural integrity
  • Ergonomics and spatial concepts
  • CAD drawing
  • Design history

Interior architects work not only with home- or building-owners, but also with government agencies and builders.  In other words, interior architecture is design for living/working space in architectural rather than decorative terms. 

There are two types of interior architecture, the initial design/usage plan and adaptive reuse, or the redesign of an existing space to serve a new purpose.  According to Wikipedia:

Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition.

One example of our interior architecture work on an adaptive reuse project is 11 West 20th Street.  Built in 1901 as a store, we have been working on the exterior and interior renovations since 2007.  Our interior work has included renovating the third floor; repairing damaged masonry; and replacing the building’s historic windows with new thermally insulated windows.

If you are in need of interior architecture services, contact us for a consultation.

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The Cost Efficiency of LEED Certification

If you've noticed that buildings that bear a LEED plaque cost more than buildings without, you're not imagining things. Structures built to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards typically cost more at first, but the savings accrued over the life of the building more than offset the initial higher price.

The ultimate cost efficiency of LEED certification is easy to understand, when you realize the many ways that certified structures save money in the long run. LEED structures are:

Energy efficient

Envelopes and duct works are individually inspected for leakage prior to being eligible for LEED certification. Certified structures require less energy to keep warm during winter and to stay cool in summertime. Many LEED certified homes are built with solar power capabilities, decreasing their reliance on expensive “grid” electricity.

Healthier for humans

LEED certified structures are built with safe materials that meet or exceed strict environmental standards. When a building boasts a LEED plaque, you are assured that the interior is free of hazardous asbestos, lead paint or other toxic materials. Better interior air quality and access to natural sunlight makes for happier, healthier occupants.

Better for the environment

LEED certified buildings are designed and constructed to minimize water usage, indoors and out. Less potable water consumption reduces environmental impact while keeping operating costs lean and affordable. A number of LEED certified structures boast vegetative roofs that produce oxygen on an otherwise underused space.

More attractive to tenants and buyers

These days, more and more people are invested in the concept of “going green.” LEED certified structures are innovative, forward-thinking and cost efficient. When potential tenants and buyers see the LEED certification plaque, their interest increases exponentially.

Henson Architecture offers a number of sustainability strategies to ensure that your building qualifies for LEED certification. We perform feasibility studies, environmental surveys and energy audits that fully comply with local New York City regulations. When you're ready to know more about LEED certification and what it can do for you, contact us without delay.

New York City is one of the most important historic and cultural cities in the United States. Home to some of the greatest architectural treasures in the country, it can be difficult to decide if you need new construction altogether, or restoration of a previously used building. Which option is most beneficial?

According to the U.S. Secretary of Interior, "restoration is said as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time..."

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in landmark preservation. Dedicated to the revitalization and reuse of the city's historically significant buildings, the Conservancy ensures that these efforts contribute to the local quality of life.

In addition to quality of life, the benefits of building restoration are threefold. It's good for the economy, the neighborhood, and even the environment.

Economy

Restoration of a building adds jobs to the economy. Just some of the professionals needed will be architects, skilled construction, real estate, banking, and perhaps even a historian. Purchasing the necessary restoration materials locally (if possible), adds even more dollars to the local economy. Other economic growth factors reach as far as grocers and restaurants; someone has to feed the restoration crew.

Neighborhood

It's no secret that vacant buildings and empty lots have a very negative impact on property values. Restoring a building can reduce vacancy and inspire more neighborhood rehabilitation. Additionally, restoration connects individuals to their community while preserving the heritage.

Environment

Building restoration is one of the greatest eco-friendly favors to the natural environment. Construction waste is highly toxic and accounts for 20% of the solid waste stream in the United States. Recycling materials from an old building reduces construction waste and helps prevent further urban sprawl.

Conclusion

With the benefits to the economy, local neighborhood, and the natural environment - all supported and encouraged by the New York Landmarks Conservancy - the choice is clear: building restoration is the most beneficial option. 

Do you need more in-depth information on historic building restoration?

Contact us today to learn more about the repair, preservation and restoration of historic buildings.

Are you considering making physical changes to your property that will change its type of occupancy or use? Or are you in the process of new construction on a building?  In New York, completing this type of construction means you will need an amended certificate of occupancy Certificate of Occupancy.

Scott Henson Architect can file these certificates with the Department of Buildings for NYC building owners, in cases of both renovations and new construction.

In order to get a Certificate of Occupancy, your building must be inspected by the Department of Buildings. The inspector will confirm that everything in the building was constructed in accordance with your architect's approved plans, including:

  • Plumbing 
  • Fire safety (sprinkler system, alarm, fire pump pressure test)
  • Electrical 
  • Elevators 
  • Lobby completion
  • Entrances (correct number for size; no obstructions)

A Department of Buildings inspector will want to confirm that major construction is complete on the job site and that there are no safety hazards in the space, such as obstructions at the entrances or construction that would impede fire safety. According to city government,

No one may legally occupy a building until the Department has issued a Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

When a final Certificate of Occupancy is issued, this confirms that the construction on your building is compliant with all legal guidelines, including the filing of proper paperwork, fees, and approvals, and that any violations have been resolved.

If you need assistance in filing your Certificate of Occupancy, contact us to start the process today.

At Scott Henson Architecture, we can't overemphasize the importance of site safety plan preparation.  More than 20% of workplace fatalities happen in the construction business, according to OSHA, so having a proactive plan to keep your job site safe is not only good business - it can really save lives.

The key components of a typical site safety plan are:

  • New employee and ongoing staff training, including rules for when to use and where to find personal protective equipment.
  • Inspection of the site and all equipment, followed by periodic audits. Electrocutions are the second-highest cause of death in construction, so we take care that our equipment is always in good working order.
  • Accountability, both on the leadership side and on the employee side.

We put in writing, in simple, clear language, the important facts:

WHO is in charge of maintaining the safety of our job site.

WHAT the rules and expectations are.  (For instance, everyone has to use protective eye wear.)

WHEN an accident happens, the process for dealing with it.

WHERE personal protective equipment is kept.

WHY everyone is responsible for safety.

The GC or site manager can't be everywhere at once, and just meeting the minimum legal requirements isn't enough to keep an accident from happening. Every construction project must have a set of standards in place so that anyone on the site can react quickly to a safety situation.  

Interested in innovative solutions for building maintenance and historic preservation?

Contact us to discuss your next project.

What is Architectural Conservation?

Architectural conservation aims to preserve the historical aesthetics and inherent value of an aging structure. Architectural conservation involves a range of techniques, including restoration, rehabilitation and implementation of legal standards that restrict the modification or demolition of historically important buildings.

Architectural conservation seeks to retain original building materials and decorative finishes as much as possible. Properties that suffer significant deterioration may be rehabbed with modern materials in ways that give every appearance of historical authenticity.

Some of Our Conservation Projects

The Knickerbocker Telephone Company building that stands squarely on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan is one example of respectful restoration as done by Scott Henson Architecture. In partnership with General Growth Properties, the Knickerbocker building is currently undergoing a full facade restoration, cornice repair and rooftop redevelopment. When the project is complete, the handsome brownstone will offer upscale office space for Manhattan businesses.

285 Central Park West is a splendid example of turn-of-the-20th-century Beaux Arts residential elegance. Scott Henson Architecture is pleased to have been the architect responsible for the restoration and preservation of this visually stunning structure.

Who We Are

Manhattan is home to countless old buildings of architectural and historical significance, and Henson Architecture is proud to be an integral part of their preservation. Ever sensitive to the architectural significance of conservation projects, Scott Henson seeks always to preserve the context and authentic nature of historical structures for the visual and cultural enjoyment of current and future generations.

When you are ready to know more about architectural conservation and how it positively impacts New York City, please contact us without hesitation.

Urban areas are often overcrowded with an abundance of unused buildings. Buildings boasting exceptional architectural details that once served the community well are cast aside to make way for modern buildings to fit the needs of a rapidly advancing technological society. The redeeming features of these buildings are often overlooked, and contractors sometimes fail to see the potential in an older building. Many historical buildings can be updated and restored for use in a different way-a term referred to as adaptive reuse

Adaptive reuse is a resourceful alternative to demolition. Not to be confused with historic renovation, adaptive reuse brings new meaning to a historic building, whereas a renovation would attempt to preserve the original historic use of the building. Adaptive reuse is a sustainable option because it reduces waste and pollution created from demolition and requires less new materials than a brand new building. 

Buildings most suitable for adaptive reuse usually include schools, churches, political buildings, and industrial buildings. These types of buildings are often good candidates for adaptive reuse because they can no longer accommodate the advances required for that particular industry, but could serve another purpose quite well. For example, an old school that simply cannot accommodate the rapidly growing student body might make a fantastic apartment building or community center. An old church could be transformed into a stunning, unique restaurant. 

Many factors influence the decision to reuse a building. Physical damage to the original building, the location of the site, historical significance of the site, and environmental factors all play a part in deciding whether a building can be successfully adapted for new use. Extensive physical damage or dangerous contamination from asbestos are barriers to adaptive reuse. 

Many cities have exceptional examples of buildings adapted for new purposes. New York City boasts many successful adaptive reuse projects, such as The Refinery, the retail space in the former Manufacturers Hanover Trust building, and the plans to turn the James A. Farley post office into a Penn Station annex. 

The Refinery Hotel, formerly a garment district millinery, is now an upscale hotel located in midtown Manhattan. The neo-gothic facade of this ornate building was originally inspired by classical Greek architecture. Built in 1912, the original millinery building was carefully adapted for use as a hotel, preserving the industrial innards such as Gothic-arched windows and entries adorned with sculptural details. 

Manufacturers Hanover Trust was built in 1954, with the intention of being a modern take on the traditional bank building. The glass structure lent an air of transparency never-before-seen in bank buildings, and even the vault was visible from Fifth Avenue. Located at 510 Fifth Avenue, the building was adapted for use as a retail shopping space. The project effectively preserved the original architectural design of the building while presenting the community with a modern shopping facility. 

The James A. Farley Post Office is located across from Penn Station, and has been the focus of an adaptive reuse project that will greatly impact the city. The post office is projected to become an annex to the bustling Penn Station, creating a grand entry to the station and a much-needed expansion for ticketing, baggage operations and offices. The project has been plodding along slowly since its conception 25 years ago, but as of late has been picking up steam. 

Adaptive reuse is a fitting option for many historical buildings in overcrowded cities. Not only do these projects reduce urban sprawl, but they also conserve resources and breathe new life into communities. Please contact us to learn more about the benefits of adaptive reuse.

New York City's Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), also known as Local Law 11, requires the facades of buildings of six or more stories to be inspected for safety every five years.  The latest inspection period, Cycle 8, started in February 2015 and ends in February 2020. Here's what you need to know:

Who needs to get a FISP inspection?

All New York City buildings that are over six stories must be inspected once every five years.  Check your subcycle with the NYC Department of Buildings to determine when you are due to be inspected.

Who can complete the inspection?

An engineer or architect can conduct a thorough inspection of your building's facade and exterior walls.  This qualified expert will submit a statement to the NYC Department of Buildings that labels your building one of three statuses:

  • SAFE: No action needed
  • UNSAFE: Must be repaired immediately (within 30 days of inspection)
  • SWARMP: Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program - must be repaired before the next inspection

Scott Henson Architect is qualified to perform these inspections; contact us to schedule a FISP inspection now.

What happens if you skip the inspection?

Penalties range from $250 per month for filing your FISP report late to $1,000 per month for failing to file at all.

Schedule Your Inspection Now with Scott Henson Architect

 

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