The latest news on New York architecture.

  • A Brief History Of The Fleming Smith Warehouse

    A Brief History Of The Fleming Smith Warehouse

    Located on the lower west side of Manhattan, the Fleming Smith Warehouse is situated on the southeast corner of Washington and Watts Streets in the neighborhood now known as TriBeCa. Prior to its transformation into a commercial center during the mid-19th century, TriBeCa was among the first residential neighborhoods to develop beyond the boundaries of colonial New York City, with development beginning in the late 18th century.

    In 1891 Stephen Decatur Hatch, a prolific and respected architect who would go on to design such important structures as the Princeton Club (1891) and the Former New York Life Insurance Company Building (1895), was contracted by Fleming Smith to design the warehouse in an amalgamation of Romanesque Revival and neo-Flemish architectural styles. Neo-Flemish design elements were popular during this time period and often freely combined with features of other European architectural styles as a nod to Manhattan’s Dutch roots. It originally functioned as a shoe factory and a storehouse for wine.

    The most pronounced Romanesque elements of the Fleming Smith Warehouse façade are its rusticated stone base, segmental arches, and symmetrically grouped windows. The ground floor is characterized by roughly hewn stone: granite at the base with sandstone above, topped with a stone cornice.  The upper floors transition to yellow brick with red brick quoining at the corners with keyed enframements bordering each window grouping. The two upper floors are divided from the rest of the façade by an intricate sandstone water table.

    The Watts Street façade is characterized by a central, highly ornamental copper-trimmed gable flanked by two crow-stepped gables at each corner, intricate wrought iron balconies and two projecting dormer windows clad in decorative copper. The Washington Street façade is crowned with a fanciful copper-lined stepped central gable above a large segmental arched window flanked by two more projecting copper dormers.  The central gable is adorned with the initials “FS” and the date “1891,’ fabricated in copper.  The peaks of each dormer were once adorned with large decorative copper finials, duplicates of which are currently in the process of being fabricated and restored at all former locations. This Warehouse, with its handsome combination of architectural elements and its picturesque silhouette, is a visually striking building and enhances the commercial area surrounding it.

    In the late 1970’s, the Fleming Smith Warehouse became the first commercial building in TriBeCa to be converted for residential use. In 2005, a complete façade restoration was performed by Scott Henson Architects, LLC.

    If you own an historic building, please contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with repairs, restoration and preservation.

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  • Compliance With Local Law 11 Cycle 8

    New laws are often enacted after there has been some sort of tragedy. Local Law 10, later 11, is no exception.

    In 1980, a piece of masonry fell from a building and a pedestrian was killed. To help prevent this from happening again, The New York City Council amended the building code. Building exteriors now had to be inspected by a properly licensed engineer or architect. This was called the Local Law 10 of 1980.

    The Local Law 10 of 1980 was amended and became the Local Law 11 of 1998. It is also referred to as "FISP," the Facade Inspection Safety Program.  It represents the oldest enforced facade inspection law in the nation, with over 12,500 buildings falling under its jurisdiction. 

    There have been different inspection cycles under this law. Cycles 1 through 7 ran from the inception of the law until February, 2013. The current Cycle 8 began February 21, 2015 and will run until February 21, 2019.

    These rules apply to buildings that are higher than 6 stories in height. If there is a question whether inspection and reporting is applicable, there is a website where the current FISP status can be checked. That website is here. The exterior walls and appurtenances must be checked by a licensed inspector, a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). There is a two-year window within which this inspection must be done, and this window cycles every 5 years. All exterior walls must be examined.

    There is a Critical Report that must be filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). The classifications in the resultant report are Safe, Unsafe, or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP).

    • Safe applies to a building that will not become unsafe within the next five years
    • Unsafe is a condition of a building wall, any appurtenances thereto, or any part thereof, that is hazardous to persons or property and requires prompt repair." An unsafe condition must be corrected within 30 days. Extensions are permitted if certain conditions are met.
    • SWARMP is something that is safe at the time of inspection, but will need repair or maintenance within the next five years.

    There are filing fees that apply to these reports.

    When it comes to Cycle 8, there have been some changes that affect report filings.

    1. Prior to Cycle 8, if an air conditioner was considered unsafe, that designation then applied to the whole building. Now, an unsafe air conditioner is permitted a SWARMP designation. 
    2. Reports must now be filed within 60 days of completion, or a new examination is required.  This keeps reporting up-to-date and accurate.
    3. The third change involves fees. If a report has been rejected twice, a new fee is charged to cover the cost of the third report review.

    If you are still finishing taking care of business from Cycle 7, it is time to finish that now. The Sub-Cycle 8A runs from February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2017.  If your building comes up for inspection, and you still not have completed a Cycle 7 SWARMP, well, you can see the potential problem. Cycle 7 repairs need to be completed now.

    Contact us so we can help you come into compliance with Local Law 11, Cycle 8, as well as complete any Cycle 7 repairs.

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