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Energy efficiency is a serious concern for businesses.  A commercial energy audit is necessary to help cut costs significantly.  In order to achieve optimal results, a reputable auditor that is vendor and solution neutral must perform the audit.  

At Scott Henson Architect, we pride ourselves in being or having experienced, honest and thorough auditors.  An inaccurate audit can waste money by installing the wrong energy conservation measures (ECM) or by recommending ECM equipment that is either not suitable for that type of energy efficiency or provides a return that is less than the auditor had estimated in their report. 

A commercial energy audit is a report that will compare current ECMs and proposed ECMs with advice on how to improve energy efficiency without an unrealistic cost to the business. There is not a generic form used between similar building structures for this audit.  A commercial energy audit is unique and conducted on each building based upon several things, such as building square footage, age of the building, date renovated, purpose of the building, number of floors, daily operating hours per week, number of occupants and existing ECM equipment.  

A commercial energy audit report will include the current Energy Conservation Methods (ECM), a proposed ECM, estimated annual savings based on the proposed ECM, expected cost of implementing proposed ECM and estimated return of investment.  

The correct audit report can help a business save money in energy costs by giving advice on where to invest money to improve energy efficiency and estimate the cost of implementing a new ECM. The data collected during an audit can save or cost businesses in the long run.

Please contact us for questions, concerns, feedback or suggestions.

New York City, as a place, has a sense of wonder about it. Creativity shines on every corner in the Big Apple, and without a doubt, the place illuminates glamour. Surely enough, this means that mediocre storefront designs can decrease the likelihood of someone looking at your store—much less visiting it. What gives a storefront appeal in New York City, then?

Vintage City Design

New York was established in 1788, and wasted no time in becoming the bustling city that everyone knows and loves today. Strangely enough, old-fashioned designs are still widely appreciated in the city. Keeping history alive is an important thing, and locals absolutely love melding historical items with modern-day amenities. 

The Empire State Appeal

New York City is loud, it is in your face, and it is bold. The storefronts within the city should absolutely represent these traits by being colorful, eye-catching, and picturesque.

Visible Product Displays

How can one enjoy the activity of window shopping if they have nothing to look at? More importantly, what do you sell that people want to buy? New York City storefront design should allow for plenty of the store's product to be displayed. We are in the shopping capital of the country, after all.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when planning the design of a New York City storefront is that first impressions are truly everything. The storefront is the face of your store, and needs to be inviting. Additionally, and chances are, that in New York City, your storefront probably holds a lot of history—regardless of how many times it has been renovated.

Keep history alive and appealing when designing your New York City storefront. Contact me today to discuss your design plans.

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Scaffold Inspections for Job Site Safety

Scaffolding problems on a job site are one of the most frequent safety violations cited by OSHA. Maintaining compliance with scaffolding safety standards not only reduces your risk of receiving a citation, but it also creates a safer work environment for workers and lowers the cost of workers compensation claims.

What are some of the key components of scaffolding safety? In order to be safe, scaffolding must be:

  • Out of the way of egress, exits, paths, and fire safety systems.
  • Level and supported by bracing, resting on a firm foundation.
  • A safe distance from power lines.
  • Free and protected from debris and falling objects.
  • Made of fire-retardant material.
  • At least 18 inches wide on platforms.

The general safety requirements established by OSHA for scaffolding can be found here.

While you can observe the condition of scaffolding on the job site, the standard requires that a "competent person" complete inspections on a frequent enough basis to uncover problems before they become safety concerns. Competence in this sense refers to someone who:

  • Has completed training about the requirements of OSHA's scaffold standard.
  • Can readily identify hazards.
  • Is able to correct problems and eliminate hazards.

A scaffold inspection must take place after it is built, before it used, and periodically in the course of the job. The specific timeline for inspection has deliberately been left vague by OSHA because inspections should take place often enough that safety threats are identified before they arise.  Contact us to schedule your inspection.

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.

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