The latest news on New York architecture.

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Kelli Crabtree

Kelli is currently a project manager at Scott Henson Architect.

Before joining the team, Kelli worked as a junior architect at Ronnette Riley Architect. Working on various residential architectural projects, from ground up to interior detailing and design, she has gained experience with NYC DOB, NYC codes and regulations, and creating full detailed CD sets for filing, interior design and material finish.

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Marissa Paino

Marissa Paino’s background in the construction industry has provided her with first-hand experience and a firm understanding of the means and methods required to guide a project through construction. Her appreciation for craftsmanship and interest in the sustainable practices of adaptive reuse and historic preservation led her to join Scott Henson Architect in 2016.

As a project manager, she oversees exterior restoration and historic preservation projects, performs building surveys and inspections, and works in all phases of the design and construction process.

Preservation and renovation of interior spaces in historic buildings involves a careful and detailed structural assessment of the materials, environment, and applied stresses to ensure that the existing walls, floors, and other load bearing structures are structurally safe. This structural assessment can involve a visual inspection to assess the structural integrity of load bearing walls and joints. Structure can also be analyzed in greater detail through impact-echo vibration testing, which creates a computer-generated model of material strength.

Some damage to an interior is visible, such as water damage, cracked bricks, and missing mortar. However, some interior elements, such as columns, concrete flooring and welded steel structural elements, may need testing to ensure that the structure of the material is holding up, without fractures or other signs of impending failure.

With historic buildings, patching or attempting to strengthen a failing structural area can accelerate damage or failure. Detailed and complete structural assessments are a first step, with priorities for repair and renovation detailed.

When bringing a historic building into modern use, safety and access issues are as important as maintaining historic integrity in materials and use. Fire safety and access for those with mobility challenges are mandated in any public use building and may require changes to the interior space utilization.

In addition, a change in the planned use of the building requires assessments of how people will navigate the building. Emergency egress and bathrooms, for instance, are built based on the expected number of people using the building. Areas of potential bottle-neck during an emergency evacuation can be modeled by computer programs or viewed with a visual inspection. Modern systems, such as HVAC and plumbing, might also require changes in the interior structural elements, as these systems will need to be accessed for maintenance and repair.

The structural assessment will include areas such as materials safety, structural integrity, and immediate safety issues. A planned renovation will detail the necessary adaptive changes to an interior, specifically safety, access, and the buildings mechanical system. After these critical points are evaluated and planned for, elements of the interior renovation will be planned in order to maintain as many historic features as possible.

Can we answer your questions about historic interior renovation? Please contact us for more information.

The NYC Department of Buildings has issued guidelines for facade safety and the requirements for filing inspection reports. The department is responsible for issues of public safety where building facades and appurtenances can pose a risk to the public. The department mandates a five-year cycle of exterior inspections for building owners. 

Owners of buildings greater than six stories are required to hire a private qualified exterior wall inspector (QEWI) every five years, according to a rotating yearly scale based on building number. This private inspector verifies that no element of the facade has deteriorated or become unsafe, and has no risk of detaching, falling, and becoming dangerous to residents or the public on the streets below. Even strong materials such as brick, masonry, and tile can become degraded or damaged after exposure to pollutants and the weather, and some issues, such as water incursions into the facade, are not easily visible to the naked eye.

QEWI inspectors are required to submit either a Safe, Safe with Repair and Maintenance, or Unsafe report. If the report meets reporting requirements, it is accepted by the department and further action is scheduled. Any unsafe report has a scheduled DOB inspector visit the site and make recommendations for the building owner. When repairs are made, an amended report is filed, and another DOB inspector is scheduled.

In addition, a DOB inspector schedules an inspection visit when a facade report is not filed when due or a shed removal request is made. It is a common fine for building owners to not file the facade report on time for their building, and this oversight comes with significant monetary fines which are ongoing until the situation is corrected. There are also significant fines associated with unsafe facades which are not repaired and re-inspected as required.

Violations written by the Department of Buildings for facade safety violations are serious, but also suggest that the building owner is at risk for liability issues if a member of the public is injured when the owner is not in compliance with requirements. Knowing when the building is due for an inspection, filing reports in a timely manner, and meeting various requirements for facade safety is a complex process that is critical for building owners. 

Can we assist in a facade issue? Please contact us for more information, or to make an appointment.

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Benefits of Sustainable Architecture

Every day we hear about the negative implications of climate change as pollution levels continue to rise and our carbon footprint increases in size every year.

To combat this, you might consider taking the train to work instead of driving. If it's convenient, you may separate your paper and plastics in the recycling bin. You might even be persuaded to buy a fuel-efficient car. But it's time to think bigger and consider investing in sustainable architecture as a way to greatly reduce the negative effects of climate change.

Environmental Impacts

Many people are unaware of just how much buildings negatively impact the environment. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that buildings in the United States contributed to 38.9 percent of the nation's total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector. 

Sustainable architecture focuses on building more efficiently by minimizing the footprint of the development site, using local and sustainable materials and incorporating more efficient mechanical systems, ultimately to minimize a building’s overall impact on the environment.

Shifts in Behavior

Sustainable architecture has the potential to change the way society views the environment. It is a well-known fact that architecture is able to shape our perspective and shift the cultural norm.

For example, a building owner can construct a traditional roof, but he or she might also want to consider a green roof with amenities for tenants. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but there are property resale benefits as well. Make the green option the attractive option.

At Scott Henson Architect, we take pride in architectural sustainability. With knowledge in design, preservation, construction and more, let us help you build with an environmentally conscious mindset. Please contact us today!

Federal and state tax credits, deductions, and property easements are designed to encourage property owners to embark on the challenging task of renovating a historic property, allowing it to function well in the modern world while keeping the character and design of the historic original. While there are differences between regions and states, basic rules apply for any historic renovation project that is hoping to qualify for tax credits or easements.

The property, whether an investment or owner-occupied, needs to be registered or listed as historic, or be located within a historic district. These are national designations as well as state, but state historic preservation offices manage the listings. Your state historic preservation office web site is the first stop for research.

Most of the tax credits and deductions are for renovation expenses, and there are usually upper and lower limits for renovation expenses. In many areas, materials and design need to conform to historic or neighborhood standards. For investment properties, there is also the need for planned access and adaptive use so the building can be accessed by multi-abled people.

A general rule of thumb is that investment properties can qualify for federal tax credits on renovation costs, while owner-occupied buildings can qualify for state credits and deductions. There is significant overlap, though. Both state and regional historic preservation offices may have a resource person who is responsible for changes in the laws and regulations, as well as grants and other funding opportunities.

Easements mean that the property owner signs away some property rights, in order to keep the property in a certain state. Many environmental easements are bringing agricultural or developed land back into wildlife corridors, for example. Property easements in historic districts or with historic properties means that the homeowner agrees in perpetuity to keep the nature and style of a property meeting historical standards. In some communities, these types of property easements can increase tax deductions and decrease both estate and property taxes.

Architects who work in historic preservation and adaptive reuse are going to be most familiar with the wide range of tax incentives, property easements, or other credit programs from the federal and state governments, and grant programs from community organizations.

Can we help you with an adaptive reuse or historic preservation project?

Please contact us for more information.

Construction can be complicated.

Each phase of construction requires specialized knowledge to ensure it runs smoothly, but hiring an expert for every phase of the construction process can become expensive and overwhelming. That's why an increasing number of property owners are turning to building owner representation services for their construction projects. 

An owner representative manages all aspects of design and construction on behalf of the property owner or developer. From hiring qualified contractors to managing the construction process, an owner representative will act as an advocate for the property owner throughout every phase of construction. Building owner representation helps property owners to eliminate risks and surprises, while ensuring that construction is completed on time and within their budget. 

Scott Henson Architect offers a full range of construction services, including building owner representation. Our construction services include:

  • Full and phased cost estimates
  • Qualified contractor selection assistance
  • Competitive bidding
  • Construction management
  • Owner representation
  • Site safety plan preparation
  • Demolition plan preparation

We have over fifteen years of experience with general contractors, craftsman, artisans, and preservation specialists. When you hire Scott Henson Architect for owner representation, you gain a full-service team of problem-solvers and professionals who will manage your construction project from conceptualization to completion so that you can focus on running your business. 

We use our experience with comparable projects and our knowledge of current market prices to provide you with accurate construction cost estimates, bid recommendations, and contract negotiations.

You'll never have to wonder what's going on with your construction project, because our firm always maintains an open line of communication. We provide you with detailed progress reports and project documentation throughout every step of the process.

We approach every project with the same level of care, dedication and enthusiasm. Whether your construction project is commercial or residential, Scott Henson Architecture can help you. 

Contact us today for more information about our construction and owner representation services. 

The Knickerbocker Telephone Company Building has been selected as a Finalist in the Architizer A+Awards for the Architecture +Preservation category.

As a Finalist, our work is amongst a handful in the world for that category, and is competing for the two most sought-after awards: The Architizer A+ Jury Award and the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award.

Here is the best part! YOU, the public, chooses who wins the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award. Public voting is open from July 10th to July 20th.

Vote for Scott Henson Architect Here

 Click Here to Vote for Scott Henson Architect!

 

All Finalists and Special Mentions can be viewed on the finalists page at awards.architizer.com/finalists.

The Jury Winners and Popular Choice Winners will be announced on July 30th. In the meantime, help us spread the word!

Performing upkeep on a building's exterior is important, and not merely for the sake of appearances. Buildings with facades that have not been maintained can be hazardous, which is why the city has enacted measures like FISP, formally known as Local Law 11.

What is It

FISP is a local law which requires the owners of any building more than six stories tall to have the exterior walls and appurtenances on that building inspected every five years. This measure was a replacement for Local Law 10, originally enacted in the late 1990’s, which required inspections of only the front side of buildings.

Why it's Necessary

Facade inspections only became mandatory after a Barnard College student was killed by a piece of terra cotta falling off a building in 1979. The original laws only targeted building exteriors that faced pedestrian walkways. It also did not require close-up inspection. A series of incidents in December 1997, including stone pieces falling off buildings and entire facades collapsing, pushed the city to repeal the original laws and set stricter building codes.

How it Works

Any building more than six stories tall - residential or commercial - must have its entire facade inspected once every five-year cycle. The cycles are broken down into sub-cycles, which are determined by the last digit of the building's block number. Each of these sub-cycles has a two-year window in which inspections must occur and reports filed.

Owners need to have inspections completed with a qualified exterior wall inspector (usually a registered architect or professional engineer) on site to supervise the inspection.

Reports must be filed within 60 days of the inspection, with a condition of Safe, Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP), or Unsafe. Unsafe conditions must be reported immediately, and repairs effected in 30 days. Buildings with SWARMP conditions must have repairs complete prior to their next inspection cycle.

Along with its many design and building maintenance services, Scott Henson Architect has provided FISP services for over one thousand buildings in NYC.

Contact us today for more information.

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Demolition Planning and Preparation


If you have plans to renovate one of your buildings, and possibly add an extension, demolition will likely be involved. The demolition and site preparation stages are important milestones in the construction process. These stages will also be some of the first real action you will see on the building's site.

Depending on how big or small the project will be, this stage can be completed in a few days. Although sometimes this stage can take longer and be a very intense process where multiple parties are working together to make sure your building and property are ready for the upcoming phases of construction.

Full demolition can be completed quickly in some cases, and in general this work is delegated to a contractor. Partial demolition might take a little longer in the case that your building will need to be torn down in preparation for the extension. You will need to have tradespeople on your side who have an understanding of what you plan to build next, so the process can be as efficient and smooth-running as possible.

You will likely also see other work being completed during this stage that is related to site preparation. This will typically depend on how your project is being progressed, and if any considerable work will be required before the foundation needs to be set. A good contractor is essential, as he or she will be on site every day to make sure the work is organized and sequenced correctly.

Are you planning a repair or restoration of a building? Contact us today.