The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Conservancy President, Peg Breen talks about the awards

    Conservancy Hosts 22nd Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012 The New-York Historical Society Some 450 people packed The New-York Historical Society on April 25 to applaud an impressive list of Moses winners from across the City. They ranged from a Brooklyn church that painstakingly refinished its Renaissance Revival sanctuary, to Edgar Allen Poe’s Cottage in the Bronx, to the Central Park Police Precinct, where the facades of a historic stable complex have been cleaned and restored and a new canopy roof has added additional space for precinct functions.

    Acclaimed preservation architect John Belle received the Preservation Leadership Award while Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin received the Public Leadership Award. The coveted awards, nicknamed the “Preservation Oscars,” laud outstanding preservation work. They are named for Lucy Goldschmidt Moses, a dedicated New Yorker whose generosity benefited the City for more than 50 years. The Awards have recognized over 200 individuals, organizations and building owners for their extraordinary contributions to the City.

    “This is one of the most joyous occasions for us at the Conservancy because we get to celebrate the people and projects that maintain the City’s extraordinary architectural heritage,” said Peg Breen, president of the Conservancy. “The time and care that went into completing these projects demonstrate New Yorkers’ commitment to preserving the entire range of the City’s historic architecture.” John Belle, FAIA, a founding partner of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, LLP, received the Preservation Leadership Award for his work in helping New Yorkers see the great urban spaces all around them, waiting to be discovered, restored, and reused, including the South Street Seaport, Grand Central Terminal, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

    In a career that has spanned over 40 years, he has received three Presidential Design Awards, the nation’s highest design award for public architecture. He joined the Conservancy Board in 1985, served two years as President of the Board, and is now a member of the Conservancy’s Advisory Council. Council Members Lander and Levin received a shared Public Leadership Award for the courage they showed in upholding the City’s Landmarks law and facing down harsh opposition to the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, Brooklyn.

    The Banner Building is mentioned in the video with Peg Breen.

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  • Best-Kept Homes

    Taking Guardianship of a Historic Home

    By Iyna Bort Caruso for Sotheby's International Realty Entering a home from a bygone era is like crossing a threshold in time. “Historic residences are profound works of both art and craft,” says Katherine Malone-France, director of outreach, education and support at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. “They tell us a lot about ourselves, what people liked, what was important to them and how their lives were structured.” Across the board and around the globe, buyers have long been drawn to the pleasures of owning a moment in time. Not every older home can measure up. Only those deemed to have historical, cultural or aesthetic value are eligible for special designation. That “value” can be based on architecture, of course, but it can also be tied to an event associated with the home or to an individual who once lived there. More than anything, owners of historic homes buy for love. Love of the artisanship, architectural details and even the quirks. Still, it’s a smart investment. A landmark plaque on a residence increases property value. It assures buyers the qualities that attracted them to the home in the first place will endure over time. What’s more, “historic homes are incredibly sturdy and solidly built,” says Malone-France. “They have so many more hand-driven fasteners, they contain woods that are no longer available to us but were specifically selected because of their strength and properties for different elements, whether as rafters or floor joists. They were built to breath, to adapt, to last.” Yes, there are some unconventional layouts in older homes and, yes, owners must follow certain prescribed guidelines when making changes or improvements. That comes with the territory. Preservation guidelines are intended to safeguard character-defining elements and protect against inappropriate alterations. Owners are tasked with keeping the structure in good repair and obtaining prior approval before performing work. Based on the governing body, the guidelines can be as specific as the choice of paint colors and the selection of foliage. Would-be buyers are sometimes intimidated by the prospect, feeling they may be required to spend exorbitantly on the maintenance of a landmarked home. Not so, says Malone-France. “The best preservation work is often the most economical. You basically strengthen the places that need to be strengthened and make sure the exterior envelope is solid. It doesn’t have to be a tremendously expensive or invasive process.” Historical preservation organizations are a good source for architect, contractor and artisan referrals. Eran Chen is the founder and creative director of ODA–Architecture in New York, a firm with an extensive portfolio of historic projects. He considers the city’s preservation commission a partner in the design. The firm worked on a Union Square condominium building discovered to have been designed for Tiffany & Company in the late 19th century. Encased—and forgotten—behind brick walls were beautiful cast-iron arches. That finding “changed everything” about the development of the project, Chen says. “There’s always a lot of discovery,” he says. “The process is full of surprises. In some old structures, there are really treasures hidden in the walls and in the floors.” There are historic homes and then there are homes located in historic districts like the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, Calif., and the French Quarter of New Orleans, La. In New York City alone, there are dozens of historic districts. Louise Beit of Sotheby’s International Realty in New York frequently handles properties with landmark designation. The homes are typically located on gracious, tree-lined streets. Many were designed by prominent architects of the 1920s. “They are a fabulous investment,” Beit says. “They go up in value exponentially.” While buyers don’t necessarily seek out landmarked properties, she says they consider it a bonus when a home they love happens to be designated as one. It means that a governing entity, in this case the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, is looking out for the property’s—and neighborhood’s—best long-term interests. “Buyers can be assured the residence will always be saleable and in excellent architectural and aesthetic taste.” Most countries have programs intended to protect buildings of architectural or historic distinction. Like the U.S., homes of exceptional interest in Mexico, for instance, have registries at the federal, state and local municipal levels. Residences in historic districts such as Mexico City’s downtown Zócalo neighborhood, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mérida and Querétaro are in especially high demand, says Graciela Zamudio Conde of Guadalajara Sotheby’s International Realty in Mexico. Read more... http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/sir-insights?WC=HPInsThumb  

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