The latest news on New York architecture.

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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.

Published in Sustainability
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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

The purpose of sustainable architecture is to: "eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive design." 

Considerable thought about how the project will affect the environment begins the sustainable design process.  Beyond eliminating adverse environmental impact, any sustainable design must create projects that are meaningful innovations that can shift behavior; a dynamic balance between economy and society, generating long-term relationships between user and building, which is respectful of the environmental and social differences.

Relieving over-stressed resources requires reducing pressure on them, not continually increasing them, whether more efficiently or not. Best is a greater reliance on natural materials that are compatible with the environment.

Sustainable applications and principles require the use of:

  • Non-toxic, energy-efficient and sustainably produced materials.
  • Emotionally durable architecture to reduce the consumption and waste of resources which increases the relationship durability between people and the design.
  • Design influence measures for total carbon footprint and life-cycle assessment of the resources based on sustainable standards.
  • The Constructal Law, which is a physics principle that urges the use of sustainability and evolutionary design in general.

Globally supported, the concept of sustainable design is the ultimate environmentally responsive goal. Any person looking to construct a building from the ground up or remodel an existing building should seek out the advice of a professional architect. Not any architect, but one who is respectful of sustainable design. The interdependence between human design and the impact on the natural world demands co-existence in a healthy, supportive and lasting way.

Scott Henson, a full-service Architectural firm, knows sustainable design. Ask how he can update your environment in a responsible way. Contact Scott Henson today.

Published in Sustainability

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