The latest news on New York architecture.

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Riverside Church

Opening its doors in 1930, Riverside Church is an interdenominational church in Morningside Heights, situated within Columbia University’s campus.

Commissioned by John D. Rockefeller and designed by the firm of Allen, Pelton and Collens, the church’s nave is modeled after the 13th-Century Gothic Chartres Cathedral. Its bell tower goes far beyond the structural capabilities of traditional gothic cathedrals, as it is built on a steel frame the equivalent of a 22-story building, which makes Riverside Church the tallest church in the United States.

Scott Henson Architect became involved with Riverside Church in performing the visual inspection for the LL11 Cycle 8 façade safety report, which involved the use of industrial rope access to properly assess the conditions of the church’s bell tower and adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Building. The repair program is currently underway.

In the meantime, we are also working with the property manager in weather-stripping the doors, as well as making the observation tower accessible for public use so that visitors may enjoy the views Riverside Church has to offer.

Published in Projects

Built in 1892, 3537 Locust Walk is located near the intersections of Locust Walk and 36th Street in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania Campus. The site is an existing three-story semi-detached masonry building situated between two other historically significant masonry buildings; Sweeten Alumni Center (SAC) to the east, and Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity to the west. Scott Henson Architect partnered with Studio Joseph Architects to carry out the renovation and expansion of the existing building, which included rerouting the existing egress, upgrading the building’s systems, and renovating the historic building envelope.

As is the case with all contemporary additions to historic buildings, we at Scott Henson Architect were challenged with the dichotomy of new versus old. Our design provides a sense of cohesiveness that addresses the building’s existing conditions; such as a lack of accessibility, issues of code compliance, and operational inefficiencies. Our goal was to make sure that the contemporary building addition would contrast with the existing fabric in the most respectful way.

Published in Projects
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Hunter's Point Passive House

One of six brick houses on a tree lined street built in 1881 and designed in the Neo-Grec style, the terrace house is two stories high in addition to the garden level. The house is characterized by rich red clay facebrick, stylized classical details, angular forms, and incised detailing formed by mechanical stone cutting. The top of the building is decorated with a pronounced wood and sheet metal cornice resting on four ornamental brackets.

The house will be designed to Passive House standards, making it a highly insulated and low energy-consuming building. This requires a complete gut-renovation of the existing interior in order to insulate and seal the building. While the front facade remains intact, the rear will see a two-story addition, a new rooftop addition set back from street view, including a partial excavation of the existing cellar.

Finding a balance between old and new elements has been the focus of this project. The house was divided into three apartments leaving a limited amount of original features. Whilst restoring it back to a single occupancy home we will be salvaging historical details where possible, replicating elsewhere with authentic materials and marrying these with modern details sympathetic to the old.

Published in Projects
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FAO Schwarz

Scott Henson Architect was retained by this iconic New York City toy store for consulting and architectural services for its flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. SHA was responsible for architectural, zoning and code assessments, for the evaluation of the store’s usable floor area per REBNY standards, and provided expert witness testimony.

Published in Projects
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Tracy Mansion

This Neo-classical style townhouse in the Park Slope historic district was designed by Frank J. Helme in 1912. The lavish mansion was built for the Tracy family and remained a single-family residence until 1970, when it was converted to a Montessori School.

Scott Henson Architect served as the historic preservation architect in 2015 for the project that sought to convert the building into a multi-family home with seven units. The conversion included two additions at the back of the property, where the existing courtyards were infilled, and a penthouse addition on the roof. Because of the significance of the property and its location within a historic district, the alterations had to first be approved by the Landmarks Preservation and were subject to a public hearing. SHA worked closely with the project architect to ensure that the conversion respected the historic character of the neighborhood, adhered to LPC standards, and responded to the community’s concerns.

In addition to guiding the project through the Landmarks process, SHA directed several design alterations to the original design – including the configuration of the penthouse and composition of the rear façade – to respond to LPC’s concern to maintain the original character of the rear elevation and reduce the visibility of the rear and rooftop additions. The improved design was approved by Landmarks in February 2015 and is currently under construction.

Published in Projects
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The American Grocery Company Building

This neo-grec style building was the first warehouse erected on Hudson Street and is now part of the Tribeca West Historic District. It was designed by Charles F. Mengelson in 1874 for grocer and importer Horace K. Thurber, and initially housed the firm of Thurber, Wyland & Co., wholesale grocers. By the early 1920s the building was vacant; by the mid-twentieth century it was used for light manufacturing, showrooms, offices, and retail concerns, all characteristic of the district; and currently the building is residential with a few commercial spaces.

SHA was retained to review the design and supervise the construction of two commercial spaces within the building, a yoga studio and a skin treatment salon.

Published in Projects
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Francis H. Leggett Co's Warehouse

The Francis H. Leggett Co’s Warehouse is a Landmark building designed by George W. DaCunha, whose buildings are found in the Tribeca Historic district as well as other Manhattan historic districts. This structure was built in 1881-82 for Francis H. Leggett (1840-1909), an influential businessman and owner of one of the country's largest importing firms in groceries, teas, and coffees. Leggett's business remained in the building until at least the middle of the second decade of the twentieth century. The facades display the bold, linear articulation of the neo-Grec style in combination with more intricate and complex detailing that characterizes the Queen Anne style. Originally the building, which replaced eight structures, had three imposing, and very similar, facades. In 1914, as part of the widening of Varick Street and the extension of the IRT line, the western side and half of south side of the building were demolished and a brick wall with simple openings was erected on the new western building line.

We have completed an Interior Renovation of the lobby and hallways, to bring back the industrial look to this former warehouse. We are also working on the Exterior and Storefront Renovation in compliance with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Published in Projects
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46 Commerce Street

46 Commerce Street was completed in 1844 as a portion of one of the first New York City residences built for Alexander T. Stewart. Stewart went on to build the first department store in New York and one of the most successful retailing businesses in the country. Stewart was later nominated as US Secretary of the Treasury by President Grant and died as the seventh wealthiest American in history.

SHA is currently working on a restoration of the building’s upper floor apartment and building upgrades, including a new roof deck and bulkhead. The building will also be undergoing façade repairs, including restoration of the original wood cornice, masonry repairs and roof replacement.

Published in Projects
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The Sanderson Hotel Building

8 Gramercy Park North, a five-story co-op building located just outside the Gramercy Park Historic District, was originally constructed as three separate buildings. In the early 1920s a hotelier converted it into a single structure and re-clad the new building in Neo-Tudor stucco and timber.

In 2007 we directed the restoration of the façade, which had fallen into disrepair. It was important to all involved that the restoration be sensitive to the surrounding historic district. Utilizing details from archival photographs and the adjacent buildings, SHA designed a new unified facade which revived the elegant brownstone detailing of the original 3 buildings. In keeping with the details of the surrounding buildings, deep red period brick with tight butter joints were specified, and a new copper cornice was installed to match the sheet metal cornices of the original buildings.

The restoration received a 2012 Brick in Architecture Gold Award from the Brick Industry Association and an Award of Excellence from the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates on 2011.

Published in Projects
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The Knabe Building

C.P.H. Gilbert, a society architect best known for his work on townhouses and mansions in the Gilded Age, designed this eleven-story office building in 1904.

The building was referred to as the Knabe Building after its longtime tenant the Knabe Piano Company.

SHA directed the exterior restoration of the building which included repairs to the terra cotta façade elements, reconstruction of deteriorated brick, copper mansard roof repairs, storefront restoration, sidewalk replacement and structural vault repairs. We are currently working on the design of a new roof deck.

Published in Projects
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