The latest news on New York architecture.

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Understanding Local Law 84

If you own a large building, then you should already be aware of Local Law 84, also known as the NYC Benchmarking Law. This law holds you responsible for reporting the water and energy consumption of your property.

Starting in 2018, Local Law 84 is expanding to include mid-size buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet, but less than 50,000 square feet. This means that a whole new range of properties will now be required to comply with Local Law 84. Because of this, it is very important owners of mid-size buildings are able to understand and provide the necessary information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online portal, because a failure to comply will result in a penalty.  

The purpose of this law is not only to help the local authorities understand the consumption of water and energy, but allow for an increased amount of transparency. This is of particular importance because many people, when looking for a place to live, take into consideration the energy efficiency of the building. By collecting this data, the city will be able to provide both landlords and renters with the information they need in order to make more sustainable choices. 

The Process

If you’re a mid-size building owner and you aren't sure how to comply with the new annual benchmarking process, we’re here to help. Below, please find the necessary steps we’ve provided, which will help you understand the necessary forms to complete and how to get your building information registered:

1. Check the Covered Buildings List online for your property every year.

2. Set up an account in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, if you don't already have one.

3. Enter or review the characteristics and uses of your building.

4. Collect every bit of energy and water data from your utilities provider for the entire building.

5. Record your energy and water usage in the Portfolio Manager® account you created in step 2 above.

6. Confirm and enter your BBL and BIN information.

7. Check your data for errors and completeness, and make adjustments as needed.

8. Submit usage data to the City by May 1 of every year through your profile.

This process will help the New York City better plan energy uses in the future. Environmental protection remains a priority in the entire city, the stakeholders of which realize the importance of being as responsible as possible with energy and water. By knowing your energy consumption, you can then work towards making positive changes and reduce the energy used by your building. 

If you own a building, you already know that there are a variety of inspections and laws you need to adhere to on a continuous basis. Local Law 84 is just one of them. But you don't need to panic; instead, simply work with experts that are there to help you navigate through the laws. If you have any questions, or need help in getting started, please contact us.

Published in Miscellaneous

The Switzerland 2016 Venice Bienale Pavilion, “Incidental Space,” under the direction of Zurich based architect Christian Kerez, is a provocative entry aimed to raise the controversial question of architecture’s role in production and experience. The pavilion’s installation encompasses a grotesque and cloudlike exterior with a gaping and corroded looking interior. The fibre-cement structure has two openings that have visual ambiguity inspired by geological, anatomical, and organic imagery.

With no direct intention for the piece, it is up to participants to define their own experience and determine the significance of the project.

As Kerez describes, "What we were looking for here is openness in terms of meaning; it's not a symbolic space, it is not a referential space, it allows you to initiate a pure encounter with architecture."
The model building began with experimenting with sugar and dust, which led to the final result of a full scale plotted and CNC milled structure. However, the extensive use of 3D modeling software to create the knobby and decrepit forms, did not take precedence over the physical manifestation of the piece. The “return to hand” in this year’s Bienale is a value that has been reinforced by hot ticket participant Peter Zumthor. Primitive in principle and form, “Incidental Space” is a euphoric and stark departure that seeks to challenge and redefine ideas of beauty, production and experience in contemporary practice.

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Published in Events
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When Sidewalks Attack

Winter is over but it's effects are still taking a toll on our sidewalks. Due to New York winters, the chemicals and salt used to clear the snow from the streets damage the sidewalks. While it is necessary to clear the snow, the wear and tear of winter can do a number on our sidewalks.

You've seen them - uneven and cracked sidewalks. You may have even felt them by getting your heel caught in a crack or tripping over buckled concrete. When sidewalks attack, it's time to consider sidewalk replacement.

In order to fix your unsightly sidewalk, you should engage a professional firm that is experienced with the New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules and the repair and replacement of sidewalks and vaults.  

A sidewalk replacement project can involve:

  • Designing and specifying structural and paving details
  • Filing and obtaining necessary city agency permits
  • Contractor bidding and negotiation
  • Construction management

In addition to the basics listed above, many businesses and homeowners find that beautification is an important reason to engage a sidewalk replacement expert. 

By adding well-conceived paving plans that takes into consideration the types of materials that can best withstand traffic, you can improve the aesthetics of your building.  

A more attractive external appearance improves the sense of arrival for a visitor or customer, resulting in better foot traffic for a business.  Likewise, an appealing sidewalk-scape will contribute to the long-term value of your property.   

Scott Henson Architect specializes in sidewalk replacement, paving plans, and street tree designs. Contact us to start the conversation about using aesthetics to improve the value of your property.

Published in Restoration

New York City is a place with a rich history, a buzzing atmosphere, and commanding architecture.  Natives and travelers alike regularly walk past sites of historic and aesthetic value unaware of the potential that lines the block. Adaptive reuse in New York City is a viable option for those who are looking to place a new function, and get new value from a building or site.  

Adaptive reuse is the practice of refitting existing architecture to meet new needs. This form of urban revitalization is becoming more common due to the practical solutions it provides for many urban centers, but it has a long tradition with New York City.

Infrastructure reflects the growth and change of a population.  New York City has always embodied this principle by adopting new purposes for old buildings, while recognizing the history of the site. The High Line, a park on Manhattan's West Side, started out as an industrial freight line and now functions as a unique, cultural attraction that provides a window to the past.  An old printing press in Brooklyn was recently transformed into a creative work space for freelancers.  Many former industrial production sites across the city now serve as apartments, department stores, and restaurants.  Many of these sites preserve certain unique architectural traits.  This provides a quality that brings together the new function of the site with the existing character.

Adapting a new function for old buildings also cuts out several phases of the design and build process.  One of these is demolition.  This saves the architects and engineers from designing an entirely new building, and saves the client money.  It also creatively challenges the designers to meet the needs of the client, while utilizing the existing structure. 

Adaptive reuse has many benefits which have helped shape the character of New York City for over two centuries.  This practice is becoming more common, and is inspiring creative solutions for the use of old architecture.  To learn more, contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse
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Foundation Reconstruction and Repairs

Time and construction often take their toll on buildings. Older buildings often cannot handle modern construction or elements and need to be repaired or reinforced. Vault and foundation reconstruction is a procedure that has the potential to be very costly. Some buildings require to be reinforced rather than be totally reconstructed, but this is not always the case. Many reasons surround the need for foundation reconstruction and many solutions exist to aid in this reconstruction.

Why a Foundation Needs Repair or Reconstruction

There is a multitude of reasons as to why a building needs routine repairs and reinforcements. A bulged or cracked wall is an indication that the very foundation of a building is not very solid. Professionals are able to detect the means necessary to repair or reinforce these cracks. However, if a problem cannot be addressed without excavating a wall or foundation, reinforcement is out the window and the need for the entire reconstruction of the foundation is in.

Of course, it is far more costly to reconstruct a foundation than it would be to repair or reinforce it. This often deters people from allowing the reconstruction to be done. It is important to note that an entire building can crumble if the foundation is not stable or properly built to support it. A one-time cost is surely better than a long-term or permanent problem.

Pilasters are common tools for repairing a building's foundation. Pilasters are typically preventative measures to take against a foundation cracking further. They add stability to a foundation that does not have a lot of damage.

Steel I and U-beams are used on foundations with minor damage as a result of movement. They are like pilasters and they add stability to a foundation. They also assist in preventing further damage.

Foundation anchors are used in more serious circumstances. These tools anchor a damaged wall to surrounding soil. This, of course, prevents movement and further damage from taking place.

To conclude, vault and foundation reconstruction or repairs are necessary for all buildings. Historic buildings especially need constant maintenance to ensure that common damage does not have the potential to become a more serious problem.

For more information on vault and foundation reconstruction, please contact us today.

Published in Restoration

When you hear the term interior design, what comes to mind? If you think that interior design is all about decor, you're only half right. Here are a few things you need to know about the art of NYC building interior design:

Some architects are interior designers, but not all interior designers are architects

Architects and interior designers are well-trained professionals, and both must be licensed to work in the state of New York. Each is an integral part of any new home project. Their jobs coordinate, but do not entirely overlap.

Architects are responsible for program planning. Architects put together floor plans and room adjacencies. It is the architect who facilitates the 'flow' between rooms. It is also the architect who analyzes the environment of the site. An architect ensures code compliance and coordinates team members to manage the integration of technical structural systems such as electricity and plumbing.

Interior designers coordinate with architects to plan indoor spaces. An interior designer may help to select building materials and colors to be incorporated in the architect's elevations. Flooring finishes, cabinetry, door styles, task lighting and fireplaces may be selected by the interior designer.

If the person for whom a structure is being designed has specific furniture in mind, the interior designer will collaborate with the architect to design room layout and facilitate traffic patterns.

When you choose Scott Henson Architect to be your design firm, you enjoy the ease of working with one company that manages every aspect of architecture and interior design. We specialize in creating structures that are beautiful, sound and highly functional.

If you'd like to know more about building interior design in New York City, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Published in Miscellaneous

Throughout the centuries, man's story has been represented in many aspects. Whether it is through his ancient writings, artifacts or in archaeological sites, man's imprint is undeniable.  With each new discovery, another chapter unfolds shedding more light on the everyday lives of our ancestors. 

History has, for the most part, dictated the styles, construction modes and uses of homes throughout the world. Each building, from our past, has a story to tell. Commercial buildings can represent the industry that was prevalent during a particular era, while residential homes can portray the wealth or poverty of the region or time.  During the early periods of history, timber was a common use for constructing homes. As time went by, new means of construction material came into use, such as, brick, stone, steel, etc. The introduction of these materials meant man could rethink the building process and construct even more structures suitable to his current needs.

Through the preservation of historic structures, we can study the different periods of our history and allow ourselves a look into our past. These structures are used as a time capsule in order for us to learn the techniques and materials utilized by the craftsmen of the time. These invaluable lessons are essential when it comes to the preservation of historic buildings.

It is extremely important that we preserve our old buildings. They truly are our connection to our past, and here at Scott Henson Architect, we are committed to preserving the historical integrity of historic structures.   

Please contact us if you have any questions about our services or if you are ready to take on a historic building project. 

Published in Landmarks Preservation

As you consider the implications of new construction, you may be wondering if LEED certification is a financially viable choice for your project. LEED certification allows you to qualify for credits in multiple categories (Sustainable Sites (SS), Water Efficiency (WE), and Energy and Atmosphere).  LEED certified buildings also benefit from increased property values and lower energy consumption.

What is LEED certification? According to the U.S. Green Building Council:

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.

Scott Henson Architect offers design strategies that leverage green building practices as part of our sustainability services.  In turn, these practices add value to a property while reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. For example, we are experts in converting unused roof space into vegetated roof systems, which are greener and more aesthetically pleasing.

The cost efficiency of LEED certification has been verified by a variety of independent agencies.

If you are interested in exploring LEED certification for your building, contact us.

 

Published in Sustainability
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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.

Published in Sustainability

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.

Published in Restoration

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