The latest news on New York architecture.


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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


Since 2009, New York City Local Law 84 has mandated that owners of large building measure and report energy and water use. Known as "Benchmarking" the law is one of four that comprise the New York City Greener, Greater Building Plan (GGBP) enacted to reduce energy use, increase energy efficiency and promote clean energy 30 percent by 2030. The law's primary purpose is to standardize that process for capturing and reporting on the data needed to measure its success in achieving these and other goals set forth in the unprecedented citywide green initiative, PlaNYC .

The GGBP Targets Large Buildings

The GGBP suite of laws, including LL 84, specifically target the largest New York City buildings. The law doesn't exempt any property types. Large buildings constitute half of the City's built square footage and 45 percent of citywide energy use and produce about 75 percent of New York City’s green house gas (GHG) emissions come from energy used in buildings.

According to the site, LL84 applies to, "all private buildings larger than 50,000 square feet (about a 50-unit apartment building) and all properties with two or more buildings that combined are larger than 100,000 square feet, with a small threshold for city-owned properties."

You can find a listing of buildings that fall under the jurisdiction of the GGBP and LL84 at Covered Building List.

Annual Reporting Is Required

An annual report for the previous year's energy and water consumption must be submitted to a free online benchmarking tool by May 1st. Building owners who fail to complete submission on subsequent deadline dates (Aug. 1, Nov. 1 and Feb. 1) will incur additional penalties of $500 per quarter up to a maximum of $2,000.

The Submission Process

In New York City building owners or their hired consultants log into Portfolio Manager, enter defining characteristics for a building, and provide data from a calendar year’s worth of energy bills. The tool, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, applies calculations and algorithms to the data to generate information about a building's energy use per square foot, carbon emissions , and for some, a 1-to-100 score that can be used to compare it against similar buildings across the nation.

Submission instructions for owners is provided on the How to Comply page at or you can enlist the help of Scott Henson Architect to manage your energy use reporting and compliance. We can also provide consulting and expertise on improving energy results, year-over-year.

For more information about our LL84 usage reporting services, reach out to us.

Many may wonder why anyone would choose historic building preservation over building something brand new. Historic building restoration provides many benefits to a community and preserves a link to the past. Preserving historic buildings can also prevent urban sprawl in many communities, as restoring existing buildings may eliminate the need to build something new.

Preservation is also an eco-friendly option. It eliminates the need for demolition and the vast amount of resources necessary for building something new from the ground up. Demolition can also release harmful toxins from older building materials into the air and soil, while renovation can be done in a safer manner to reduce exposure to these toxins. Overall, renovation reduces garbage, preserves resources, and saves money.

Historic buildings add warmth, charm, and appeal that cannot be found in more modern, stark architecture. Cities and towns with a surplus of modern buildings lose the ties to history that define the community and make it unique. Historic buildings have details, materials, and craftsmanship that cannot be found in modern architecture. Preserving these buildings not only provides a community with a link to their past, but also teaches new generations of builders about techniques used in the past that they may apply to their work today.

Restoring historic buildings can provide a much-needed face-lift to a deteriorating neighborhood, and sometimes attract investors. Tax incentives and grants can drastically cut the costs of restoration, and in many cases, investors can make a decent amount of money. Tourists LOVE historic buildings, and restoring buildings to their original splendor can create a hot spot for visitors-this means a business boom for the entire community. Depending on the function of the building, restoration can also mean new jobs for community members.

Sometimes old buildings sit for decades without being touched or used for anything at all. They become an eyesore without any function. Yet many cities face problems of overcrowded classrooms or lack of housing. Restoring these buildings solves two problems at once-it turns an eyesore into a magnificent structure, and provides a functional use to the community as well. Many historic buildings have been renovated for functional use as schools, libraries, housing units, or a site for community events.

Historical building preservation beautifies communities, attracts tourists, creates more business, and offers functional solutions to community needs. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about preserving and renovating historic buildings.

Today marks three years since hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast. In those three years, the community has banded together to rebuild. This courageous effort and relentless force is what has restored the shore.
During Sandy, a ‘Major Retailer’ store that had been built atop concrete piers along the shoreline of Gravesend Bay in Brooklyn was severely damaged by the surge of water that flooded the city. The storm was devastating. The concrete slab floors of the store rippled with the waves and were shattered and displaced, with water geysering up through the slab into the store! The damage rendered the retail building un-usable.

Following the storm, the ‘Major Retailer’s management contacted Scott Henson Architect’s trusted team to spearhead the effort of installing a temporary tent in the store’s parking lot. This tent would serve as a sales floor until the brick and mortar store could be repaired. The re-establishment of a sales floor was critical at this time because this ‘Major Retailer’ served as a primary source of goods that were vital to the neighborhood. The goal? To be open and functional by 11/23 (‘Black Friday’).

While Lower Manhattan through Midtown remained without electricity and the SHA office closed, Scott Henson walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to meet with the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner, Ira Gluckman, to discuss the necessity of the tent and map out a course of action through the city agency approval process. He was on a mission to get the tent approved in time for the Black Friday deadline.

During the following two weeks, SHA worked with the project team, including the Owner’s tent manufacturer from Europe and in-house consultant team, SHA’s structural engineering consultant, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, and expeditor Marty Marcus from Property Intervention Consultants to ensure the tent was filed, approved and installed by the Thanksgiving deadline. Scott Henson met personally with the Borough Commissioner on multiple occasions and filed with the NYC Dept. of Buildings, Dept. of Transportation, and the Fire Dept. of New York.

The SHA team worked in coordination with the project team to adapt the tent manufacturer’s European standards to NYC standards, determine proper structural anchoring, interior sales layouts, mechanical heating/cooling layouts, fire protections/evacuation layouts and delivery/stock logistics.

All the hard work and long days paid off. The tent was approved, installed and stocked by the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, providing time for logistics to be ironed-out by Black Friday. Dedication to the cause always wins.

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45 Greene Street

This building is located between Grand Street and Broome Street in the SoHo Cast Iron District. It was designed by architect J. Morgan Slade for retail use and was completed in 1882. The neo-Grec style street façade is composed of painted cast iron detailing.

We were contracted to perform a full exterior inspection and restoration plan under special agreement with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Zoe Rosenberg reports for Curbed: Behold, Brooklyn's Magnificently Restored Kings Theatre.

Two years ago to the day that the city embarked on a $94 million restoration of the Loew's Kings Theatre in Flatbush, the institution reopened its doors and reclaimed its standing as Brooklyn's largest theater. The restoration was painstaking: when it began in 2013, the theater had already been sitting vacant for four decades, a time during which looters plundered everything that wasn't bolted down (and most of the things that were), and nature found its way into the neglected structure.

"The carpets used to kind of squish when you walked around," Jeff Greene of EverGreene Architectural Arts said recalling the building in its pre-restoration state, when, during inclement weather, water would gush through the ceiling, down the balconies, and pool amidst the theater seats. Looking at the majestic space now, any traces of its derelict state have been absolutely erased. From the brink of utter deterioration, the former Loew's Wonder Theatre has been saved and returned to the city perhaps in a more glorious state even than before.

Every inch of the Kings Theatre has been meticulously restored, and what work could be sourced locally was. Looters ransacked the building in the 40 years it sat unoccupied, tearing out everything from copper wiring to six of the promenade's seven gorgeous chandeliers.

The six missing chandeliers were replaced with recreations made in Queens that were based on the one remaining fixture. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to tell which is the original and which are recreations. But such is the case with nearly every surface in the theater—when the restoration began, project architects Martinez+Johnson Architecture and EverGreene Architectural Arts stepped into a giant mess of a place. EverGreene, a firm that specializes in historically accurate renovations, went so far as to analyze old photographs under microscopes to determine the exact right paint colors for the theater. What's incredible is that a space that took one year to build from the ground up in 1928 took twice as long and a lot more energy to bring back to life in 2013-2014. Borough President Eric Adams presided over the theater's ribbon cutting ceremony. 

"Brooklyn, the county of Kings, has cleaned off its crowned jewel," he declared nothing short of enthusiastically. The theater is being looked at as a hub for cultural and economic activity in a needing area of Brooklyn. Adams is quick to dismiss the theater as a "gentrification thing", though. The restoration of the theater has been in the works, quietly, for decades. Former borough president Marty Markowitz, who coincidentally had his first date at the Loew's Kings, had been attempting to get the renovation rolling as far back as two decades ago. Had that happened, perhaps the theater would have ended up as the multiplex Magic Johnson—yes, the basketball player—wanted it to become. Now, it will host live music shows and cultural events like Disney Live! performances. The theater's inaugural performance on January 27 was postponed due to inclement weather.

Diana Ross will spearhead the theatre's public opening with a concert on February 3. "Mazel Tov!," someone in the crowd yelled as the ribbon was cut. Smiles all around. As much as was possible, construction supplies for the theater were purchased locally.

And into the theater we go. The two-tiered room might not look that big in photographs, but the theater, with its 3,000 seats, is the largest in Brooklyn and the third largest in the entire city.

While the interiors were painstakingly restored, they were also brought up to modern standards that include this glowing disco emblem, whose lights can change colors. Kidding aside, the theater was updated with lights, acoustic absorption panels, and surround sound. Another place that was updated to meet modern demands is in the bathrooms, which were gutted, made ADA accessible, and multiplied.

In 1929, the theater had 26 toilets for women. In 2015, it has 75. Except for the area under a severe ceiling leak, all of the wood in the theater was salvaged which is an amazing feat, considering that Neil Heyman of Gilbane Building Company compared the theater when restoration began to"Titanic raised above water." Let that image sink in. As part of the theater's revamp, it has dropped the original "Loew's" name.

Because the theater was originally built in 1929, there were few, if any, architectural drawings for EverGreene and ACE Theatrical Group to pull from. Instead, the theater's specs, all the way down to its fabrics and paint colors, were determined by viewing historic photographs of the space under microscopes. As a result, the theater almost has a patina rather than looking brand spanking new. The theater was sheathed in scaffolding for nine months as it was being worked on. A few surprising things were discovered during the renovation beyond all of the gum and ephemera found under the theater's seats. Gilbane's Neil Heyman said a construction crew found a love letter inside one of the theater's walls.

Although after searching, they found that both the author and recipient of the letter had passed, a genealogy search turned back the niece of the woman who had penned the letter, and it was given to her for safe keeping. "There's a lot of life in the theater," he said. Another pleasant surprise came when a 100-year-old woman who served as the theater's last house manager contacted the restoration crew to tell them that she was in possession of six original chairs from the theater's lobby and that she wished to return them to their home. If you look closely, there are recurring motifs in the theater's decorations. Most notably, faces. Thousands and thousands of faces.

According to one of the guys working in the theater, these odd statues were all found decapitated when restoration began. Where the original heads may be now is still a mystery. While they're lovely, they're a bit creepy. No? The theater, which opened in 1929 and shuttered in 1977, has a lot of history with the community it served. Crews working on the building were constantly approached by neighborhood residents who, remembering past life experiences like graduations and first dates, constantly wanted to peek inside.

"There were so many curiosity seekers that we couldn't help ourselves but to keep the doors open from time to time," Heyman said, echoing sentiments from the ribbon cutting ceremony that the community has great respect for the history of the building. A carving inside one of the building's original fountains reads "Drink and be refreshed."

The glorious result of the restoration was achieved through a number of parties; with funding from the state of New York, NYCEDC and the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Company, which consists of ACE Theatrical Group, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, and the National Development Council. Gilbane was the project's general contractor, and Martinez+Johnson were the project architects. To view more photos click here.

Phil Miller reports for The Scottish Herald:

Build a new library at Mackintosh Building, not a replica, says leading architect. The world famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh library which was destroyed in the fire at the Glasgow School Of Art should not be rebuilt as a "replica" copy, a leading Scottish architect has declared. Alan Dunlop believes that the school should instead open up an international competition to find an innovative modern architect who can build a new library. A new facility, he believes, can be built in the space where the former Mackintosh Library stood in the west wing of the building.

Professor Dunlop believes that Mackintosh himself would not have wanted to simply replicate what had gone before. Mackintosh, he says, was an architect who developed and advanced his designs, rather than repeated what he had already done.
The Mackintosh Library (before the fire).
The library, and most of its contents, was destroyed in the May fire, and its remnants are currently being explored and analysed by forensic archaeologists as the school begins the long and expensive process of revitalising the building. Professor Dunlop, who with Gordon Murray designed the copper-clad Radisson Hotel on Glasgow's Argyle Street, and the steel-clad Spectrum Building in the city's Blythswood Street, said he is "seriously against the idea of remaking the Mackintosh library." The architect, who trained at the GSA, said: "There is a debate going on about what should be done and I am worried at the moment - I think rebuilding it would just be just a replica of Mackintosh, and I am sure you could do it, but the best thing would to have a new idea, something new which is worthy of the Mackintosh Building. "There is actually no way you can replace it as it was, there was 100 years of age and patina that you would have to replicate. "I don't think it would be what Mackintosh would do - just look at the expansion of his work in the years between each part of the Mackintosh Building being built [in 1899 and 1909]." Earlier this year, David Mullane, a former director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, who chairs the Friends Of The GSA organisation, said he believed a rebuilt version of library could be an "embarrassment" and a prime example of "Mockintosh". Professor Dunlop, who does not himself want to design a new library, said that the former library had essentially become a museum, not a viable working room for students and staff. He said he was worried the debate was leaning towards replicating the Mackintosh Library as it once was. "I know people will be naturally wary of this, but if we get the right architect it can be done thoughtfully," he added. "But I do think it is time to really debate the question of what will be done with the space." A spokeswoman for the GSA said: "We warmly welcome input into the debate around the future of the Mackintosh Library and will be listening to a wide range of views before making a final decision on the way forward." Professor Dunlop is an academic and teacher as well as an architect, and he has taught in the USA, UK, Germany and also lectured internationally. In his practice, he has won over 50 national and international awards.