The latest news on New York architecture.

  • The Case for Contract Procurement Services

    The Case for Contract Procurement Services

    When choosing a contractor for a building project, it seems so simple to choose the company with the lowest estimate and get to work. However, the contractor with the lowest price tag may not be the most qualified for the job. When choosing between contractors seems daunting, hiring an Architect to perform Contract Procurement Services may be the best course of action.

    A “qualified contractor” can only be defined in the context of the job to be performed. For example, a simple exterior renovation may only require a contractor who can cut and repoint masonry and replace facebrick with typical brick, however, the skillset required would increase drastically if it were an exterior restoration of a landmarked building which required mortar matching, historic sensitivity and coordination with the Landmarks Preservation Committee. Reaching out to an Architect who truly comprehends all of the factors governing a project can simplify process of choosing an appropriate contractor.

    Evaluating a contractor’s qualifications becomes easier when you have multiple points of comparison. Once hired for Contract Procurement Services, the Architect will reach out to trusted contractors and obtain three or more qualified bids. An initial walkthrough of the building and scope of work with all of the bidding contractors allows for more consistent bids. Before dismissing any proposals, the Architect will reach out to the Contractors and answer all relevant questions, to ensure that they are fully aware of the scope of work involved.

    When it comes to assessing bids, the estimated costs can be the fastest way to filter out sub-standard contractors. Contractors that fall into an average price range are probably looking at the job in a similar way and may offer comparable quality. However, a bid that falls way above or below the average could display signs of a gross miscalculation, which could mean disaster further down the road.

    Once the bids are initially narrowed down, contractor interviews help make a final decision easier. The Architect will help mediate interviews between the Client and the chosen bidders to assess whether their past work experience is applicable to the project’s scope of work. If the contractor’s experience and price seem like a good fit, the bid can be awarded and work can begin.

    As a full-service architectural firm, Scott Henson Architects is qualified to assist clients in choosing the best contractors for any kind of project. From facade repairs to interior renovations, we can help balance the quality and cost associated with a project. Contact us to learn how we can offer peace of mind in this important step of your valued job.

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  • Preserving Historic Fabric in the Midst of Redevelopment

    Preserving Historic Fabric in the Midst of Redevelopment

    New York City is home to over 36,000 landmarked properties-most of which are located in 141 historic districts and extensions - 1,398 individual landmarks, and 119 interior landmarks. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the largest preservation agency in the nation, is entrusted with safeguarding the city’s cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history. Any work proposed work on a landmarked building must be held up to strict LPC standards and regulations before obtaining approval. While these regulations may curb pervasive development, the Landmarks Preservation Commission by no means discourages new development altogether. In fact, the recently approved redevelopment of the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing is a prime example of how historic preservation and new development can happily co-exist.  

    After over 30 years of neglect and several plans for redevelopment, the RKO Keith’s Theater finally has a chance at new life thanks to Xinyuan Real Estate. In 2016 the Chinese firm purchased the historic theater with the intent to provide high-end residential housing to the underserved market of Flushing, Queens. In May, Xinyuan presented their plan to rehabilitate and preserve the 1928-built theater’s landmarked grand foyer and ticket lobby within a new glass 16-floor building with 269 apartments designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

    Xinyuan plans to use the landmarked ticket lobby and grand foyer as the building entry, however the original 3,000 seat theater does not hold landmark status and will be razed. Due to the decades of neglect the historic interior has fallen into a state of critical disrepair and just about every inch of the interior will require some form of restorative work.

    At the hearing the Landmarks Preservation Committee did voice some concerns about the accessibility of the landmark. While the ticket booth would be a part of the public retail space, as presented, the public would not be permitted into the lobby of the residential building without the invitation of a resident. While security of the residents is a concern, the Commission hesitated to approve blocking off a public landmark, and suggested separating the residential entry with a series of doors.

    Despite the Commissioners’ concerns, they decided to unanimously support the project, with one condition: Staff members at the Commission would work with the developers to settle the issue of public access to the grand foyer. The approval of this major project goes to show that landmark status is not an end to the possibilities for redevelopment. 

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