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Conratulations Team!

Gold Winner: 2012 Brick in Architecture Awards Project: 38 Gramercy Park North Residential – Multi-Family

38 Gramercy Park North

New York, New York

Architect: Scott Henson Architect LLC

Builder: Viles Contracting

Manufacturer: The McAvoy Brick Company

Mason Contractor: Viles Contracting

Structural Engineer: Gilsanz Murray Steficek

View Photo Gallery, Click here.

Award: Gold Award
Sub-Category: Residential - Multi Family
Entry Name: 38 Gramercy Park North
Project City: New York
Project State: New York
General Project Overview: 38 Gramercy Park North, a 5-story co-op building just outside New York City’s Gramercy Park Historic District was originally constructed in the mid-1800s as three separate buildings. In the early 1920s it was converted into a single structure and re-clad in a Neo-Tudor style façade. In 2007 the co-op hired Scott Henson Architect LLC to restore the exterior of the building which had fallen into disrepair. Once inspections commenced however, it became clear that the facade’s half-timber and stucco cladding were beyond salvage. After careful consideration of several options, the architect decided to re-clad the building in a new brick and cast stone façade reminiscent of its 3 predecessors.
Green Building: The preservation, re-use, and recycling of historic buildings is an effective tool for the sustainable stewardship of our environmental resources, including those resources that have already been expended in their construction. The use of new clay facebrick at 38 Gramercy Park North accomplished the project goal of a unified façade while permitting the re-use of the three original buildings substructure, preserving much of the embodied energy of the materials used for their construction. Through this approach, the project embodies some of the most beneficial green strategies in building construction and reinforces the importance and value of historic preservation in sustainability.
Architect Firm Name: Scott Henson Architect LLC
Builder Name: Viles Contracting
Brick Manufacturer Name: The McAvoy Brick Company
Brick Distributor Name:  
Photographer Name: Jack Kucy
Photographer Name: Joe Polowczuk
Additional Credits: Structural Engineer Phillip Murray Gilsanz Murray Steficek 129 West 27th Street, 5th Floor New York, NY 10001 (212) 254-0030 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2012 Brick in Architecture Awards Competition Announces Winners

2012 Brick in Architecture Award Winners - Photo Gallery

2012 Brick in Architecture Award Winners - Complete List

Since 1989, the Brick Industry Association has sponsored one of the country's most prestigious architectural award programs - the Brick in Architecture Awards. As the only national association to represent both manufacturers and distributors, BIA is the authority in the clay brick industry. As such, the Brick in Architecture Awards has become the nation's premiere architectural award featuring clay brick. Architectural and design firms from around the country can enter their best material to be judged by a jury of their peers. Any work of residential or non-residential architecture completed within the last five years, in which brick is the dominant building material, is eligible.

Our competitions are conducted entirely online. For ease and convenience, this includes all aspects of registration and entry submission. Entrants are able to revise and enhance their submissions at any point up until the competition's closing date. A firm may submit multiple entries if desired, either within the same category or among multiple categories.

We cordially invite you to submit your best work to the competition! As the largest and most prestigious juried awards program of its kind, the Brick in Architecture Awards showcase the best work in clay face and paving brick from architects across the country in the following categories: • Commercial * • Educational / Schools ** • Health Care Facilities • House of Worship • Municipal / Government / Civic • Residential – Single Family • Residential – Multi-Family • Paving & Landscape Architecture * Includes retail, banking, restaurants, hotels, office/corporate buildings, town centers, mixed use, sporting facilities, theater/arts centers, parking garages, etc. ** Includes residence halls & academic/administrative buildings Best in Class winners will receive national recognition through a special Brick in Architecture insert in the November 2012 issue of Architect Magazine! Other winners will be listed in the insert as well as in Brick News Online. All entrants will be featured on BIA’s Brick Photo Gallery.

Conservancy Hosts 22nd Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 The New-York Historical Society Some 450 people packed The New-York Historical Society on April 25 to applaud an impressive list of Moses winners from across the City. They ranged from a Brooklyn church that painstakingly refinished its Renaissance Revival sanctuary, to Edgar Allen Poe’s Cottage in the Bronx, to the Central Park Police Precinct, where the facades of a historic stable complex have been cleaned and restored and a new canopy roof has added additional space for precinct functions.

Acclaimed preservation architect John Belle received the Preservation Leadership Award while Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin received the Public Leadership Award. The coveted awards, nicknamed the “Preservation Oscars,” laud outstanding preservation work. They are named for Lucy Goldschmidt Moses, a dedicated New Yorker whose generosity benefited the City for more than 50 years. The Awards have recognized over 200 individuals, organizations and building owners for their extraordinary contributions to the City.

“This is one of the most joyous occasions for us at the Conservancy because we get to celebrate the people and projects that maintain the City’s extraordinary architectural heritage,” said Peg Breen, president of the Conservancy. “The time and care that went into completing these projects demonstrate New Yorkers’ commitment to preserving the entire range of the City’s historic architecture.” John Belle, FAIA, a founding partner of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, LLP, received the Preservation Leadership Award for his work in helping New Yorkers see the great urban spaces all around them, waiting to be discovered, restored, and reused, including the South Street Seaport, Grand Central Terminal, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

In a career that has spanned over 40 years, he has received three Presidential Design Awards, the nation’s highest design award for public architecture. He joined the Conservancy Board in 1985, served two years as President of the Board, and is now a member of the Conservancy’s Advisory Council. Council Members Lander and Levin received a shared Public Leadership Award for the courage they showed in upholding the City’s Landmarks law and facing down harsh opposition to the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, Brooklyn.

The Banner Building is mentioned in the video with Peg Breen.

Watch video

Congratulations team! We received the Moses Award (The New York Landmarks Conservancy) for the Banner Building, the Conservancy’s highest honors for outstanding preservation efforts. The Awards ceremony will be at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (an Award winner) on Wednesday, April 25, starting at 6:00pm, with a reception starting at around 7:00. Peg Breen, the Conservancy president, will make the presentation with a powerpoint and a few comments about each project.   

Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 Check-in 5:30 Ceremony: 6:00 Reception: 7:00

Where: The New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West

Tickets: Click here to purchase tickets or contact Jenna Smith This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 212.995.5260


About the Awards

The Moses Awards are the Conservancy’s highest honors for outstanding preservation efforts. Named in honor of dedicated New Yorker and noted philanthropist Lucy G. Moses, the Awards recognize the property owners, builders, architects, artisans, and designers who renew the beauty and utility of New York City’s distinctive architecture. The annual Moses Awards celebrate the success of historic preservation and its role in the economic, social, and cultural vitality of the City. Preservation Awards are given to projects that demonstrate excellence in the restoration, preservation, or adaptive use of historic buildings, streetscapes, and landscapes that preserve commercial, residential, institutional, religious, and public buildings. Other possible categories include community groups or organizations that foster neighborhood revitalization.

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The Very Best in Preservation

Recipients of the 2011 National Preservation Awards include individuals and projects epitomizing ...

By Magazine Editors | From Preservation | November/December 2011


Pamela Bates Credit: Matt Teuten

The Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement: Pamela Bates, Lowell's Boat Shop

Pamela Bates grew up landlocked in Longmeadow, Mass. But as the daughter of an accomplished fly-fisherman, "I was always gravitating toward the water," she says. In the 1970s, she and her husband moved to the Massachusetts coast and discovered Lowell's Boat Shop, then a commercial boat-building operation: "I would just go to the boat shop for the joy of purchasing oar locks," she says. 

The country's oldest continuously operating boat shop, Lowell's was founded in 1793 on a stretch of the Merrimack River about 40 miles northeast of Boston. Known for its wooden dories, the shop remained in the Lowell family until 1976, when it was sold. Lowell's changed hands again in 1992, when the Newburyport Maritime Society acquired the property and committed to preserving the boat shop as a working museum. But little more than a decade later, its commitment was imperiled. Unable to support the shop financially, the society was forced to sell. With developers eyeing the prime waterfront location, Bates assembled a coalition (later called the Lowell's Maritime Foundation) which purchased the landmark.

The nonprofit took title in 2007 and has operated Lowell's ever since. Bates serves as the foundation's executive director. In that time, says her colleague Graham McKay, the number of employees grew from zero to three, the shop received grant funding for a new roof and windows, and boat production increased from one boat per year to eight. Lowell's, he says, "has gone from being quiet and unwelcoming to a vibrant and inviting working museum.

For all this work, Pam Bates has not received one penny." Focused on preserving and perpetuating the art and craft of wooden boat building, Lowell's remains "a well-kept secret," Bates says, but she is determined to change that. She hopes to expand existing dock space to accommodate more waterfront programming and start a rowing program for patients recovering from serious illnesses or those with special needs. Because every boat assembled at Lowell's is handcrafted, she has a particular interest in establishing an apprentice program. Bates has dedicated herself to Lowell's for almost a decade but has no plans to retire. "The boat shop has a way of capturing people," she says. "It's a piece of living history … part of my heart."    

American Brewery

As seen from the back seat of George Holback's family station wagon more than 50 years ago, the American Brewery building in East Baltimore was "a place the Addams family might have lived." The five-story, Victorian-era structure, built in 1887 for the J.F. Wiessner & Sons Brewing Co., "was a big, scary, intimidating building," Holback says. "But I knew it as the building I wanted to work on." Holback got his chance in early 2008, when Humanim, a nonprofit social services agency, chose his architectural firm, Cho Benn Holback + Associates, to design the rehabilitation of the building, which is located in one of Baltimore's poorest neighborhoods, north of the Inner Harbor. A $375,000 loan from the National Trust Loan Fund was used to stabilize the brewery, and the National Trust Community Investment Corporation pitched in $5.4 million in historic and new markets tax credit equity. Holes in the mansard roof, broken windows, and an interior filled with pigeon droppings at least six inches deep were just some of the challenges that work crews had to address during the 16-month, $24 million adaptive use project. Humanim moved into the old brewery in April 2009.

Offices and meeting spaces now fill rooms that once contained conveyor belts and grain chutes, and a new lighting system reveals architectural and industrial details obscured for decades. Last year, the Maryland Historical Trust recognized the success of the rehabilitation with its Project Excellence Award. "You can see this building from all over the city, poking up over Clifton Park," says Holback. "Now knitted into the old industrial relic is the story of a nonprofit trying to bring change to that area."  

Acworth Meetinghouse

For nearly two centuries, a beloved icon known locally as the Church on the Hill towered above the rooftops of Acworth, N.H. When residents noticed in 2005 that the steeple atop Acworth Meetinghouse was leaning, they sprang into action to save the 1821 building. In January 2006, the steeple was removed and lowered onto pylons on the town common. Following recommendations from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and using a grant from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, members of the restoration committee worked with timber-frame preservation specialist Arron Sturgis to complete a project assessment. With grants and private donations forthcoming, they initiated a five-year restoration. Crews repaired water damage in the church basement and stabilized the bell tower from the bottom up, replacing rotten wood and bolstering posts. They also rewired the building, added exterior storm windows, repaired the shutters, and repainted the walls. (The renovated church also has accessible bathrooms and a much-needed kitchen.) In June 2009, the people of Acworth watched as the historic steeple was hoisted back into place. By the time the restoration committee disbanded earlier this year, members had raised more than $330,000 for the nearly $640,000 project. Sturgis calculates that, by relying on local craftspeople, he cut projected costs by as much as 30 percent.

Engaging the community in both grassroots fundraising and restoration earned the project high marks in the eyes of Preservation Awards judges. Kathi Bradt, who worked for the Meetinghouse Restoration Committee, says that the fully restored building is "remarkable … it's like a wedding cake sitting here in the middle of town."  

Downtown Women's Center

The residents of the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles have found a fresh start in their new home on San Pedro Street. And the same can be said of the center's 1926 Gothic Revival structure, which reopened last December after a $26 million restoration. Pica+Sullivan Architects transformed the space into a full-service facility for homeless and low-income women living on Los Angeles' Skid Row. Per their plans, crews repaired the crumbling facade, updated all mechanical systems, and completed seismic work to bring the building up to code. They also created 71 new residential units with private baths and kitchenettes. Each residential floor features common areas, including computer and exercise rooms. There is also a library and a rooftop garden. The ground floor of the LEED Silver-certified building now houses a six-room health clinic, a small pharmacy, offices for a psychiatrist and social workers, and a mammogram room.

Forty local designers donated time and resources to decorate the apartment units and common spaces, creating an environment that CEO Lisa Watson calls a source of pride for the women at the center. And the residents were consulted every step of the way to ensure they had a voice in the creation of their new home. "It's a great example of how good design makes such an impact on our lives," says Site Director Joseph Altepeter, echoing the thoughts of the Awards jurors who recognized the center for its ambitious restoration of a historic building.  

Seashore Farmers' Lodge 

The Seashore Farmers' Lodge on the tiny barrier island of Sol Legare, S.C., was erected in 1915 to serve freedmen and their families who could not secure loans or insurance policies at white-run banks and firms in the segregated South. "This was our community center, this was our church, it was our school, it was our funeral home," local resident Ernest L. Parks says. "It was everything." The site has a distinguished history. The famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first official black unit to fight in the Civil War, camped there before the Battle of Sol Legare and the assault on Fort Wagner (made famous in the film Glory) in 1863. The building was constructed by residents who collected contributions toward the cost of materials. But by the 1960s, limited funds, tropical storms, and the northern migration of many African Americans had nearly doomed the structure. After residents built a new community center down the road in the 1970s, the lodge was left abandoned for almost 30 years. In 2005, Parks returned to his hometown after years away and joined Bill "Cubby" Wilder, a former town councilman, in trying to save the deteriorating lodge. At Wilder's urging, the Town of James Island (which had authority over Sol Legare) offered $55,000 to jump-start restoration work in 2006.

The lodge's appearance on the A&E program Flip This House, and a 2007 listing on the National Register of Historic Places, attracted additional volunteer attention and funding. Starting in March 2009, workers shored up the side of the building; removed, cleaned, and replaced pine siding; hand-dug continuous footers where the lodge's original palm trunk foundation had rotted; and replaced a hurricane-damaged balcony. Members of the Concerned Citizens of Sol Legare Foundation's Ad Hoc Committee and other volunteers collected furniture and heirlooms to display inside.

Innovative educational programming is one reason the project was recognized by Preservation Awards judges. Initial estimates to rescue the lodge neared $400,000. Yet when the lodge reopened in April, total costs were less than $140,000. "There's nothing like this," says Corie Hipp, the project's marketing coordinator. "Nothing like this anywhere."

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Gramercy Neighborhood Associates Inc.

Annual GNA Meeting and Celebration of Gramercy January 26, 2011 Annual Celebration of Gramercy event will be held on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 6:30pm at the Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park. O. Aldon James, current President of The National Arts Club on Gramercy Park, will be our guest speaker. 

Annual Gramercy building restoration award will be announced in addition to the winners of our Annual Photography Contest at the event.

Celebration of Gramercy GNA photo contest winner!

Go to GNA

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GNA Award of Excellence

GNA Award of Excellence was presented to 38 Gramercy and Scott Henson at Brotherhood Synagogue on January 26, 2011.  

Dear Awards Committee, I am writing this letter to support the nomination of Scott Henson Architect for the restoration of 38 Gramercy Park North. In support of this project, I would like to highlight the opportunity the restoration project has taken to engage the design of the building with the historic character of the streetscape and neighborhood, and the positive effect the restoration of this once deteriorating building has had on the community. Under the guidance of Scott Henson Architect, the design for the altered facade addressed not only the historic aesthetic but accommodated the modern adaption of itsuse. As a result, Scott Henson Architect has found a balance between merging historic authenticity with modern practicalities. This effort was recognized at our annual "Celebration of Gramercy" held at Brotherhood Synagogue where an Award of Excellence was presented to 38 Gramercy and Scott Henson. Sincerely, Alan Krevis President Gramercy Neighborhood Associateds Inc.



Go to GNA Go to 38 Gramercy

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2011 AIA Tri State Design Award Winner!

We are proud to announce our project “648 Broadway, New York, New York” was selected for a 2011 AIA Tri-State Design Award for Historic Preservation.

Go to AIA Tri-State Design Award

We are proud to announce our project "648 Broadway, New York, New York" was selected for a 2011 AIA New York State Design Award for Historic Preservation. We will be recognized during the President's Dinner and Design Awards Presentation on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at the Tri-State Convention in Atlantic City, NJ.  


2011 AIANYS Design Award Jury Meetsda jury

The 2011 AIANYS Design Award jury met June 8-9 at the 74 State Hotel in Albany to review the Design Award portfolios and choose the recipients. The Design Awards will be presented during the convention at the AIANYS Dinner and Design Awards Presentation on Wednesday, September 21 at Bally's. The names of all of the Design Award recipients are below. We would like to thank all of the jury members for their time and hard work.      Pictured (left to right): Robert Shibley, FAIA, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo; Robert M. Noblett, AIA, Partner, Benisch Arkitekten, Boston, MA; Michael Ryan, AIA, Michael Ryan Architects, Loveladies, NJ; Elizabeth Egbert, President & CEO, Staten Island Museum, Staten Island, NY (Public Member) and David Mark Riz, AIA, Principal, KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia, PA (Jury Chair).

2011 AIANYS Design Award Recipients      AIANYS is pleased to announce the 2011 Design Award recipients. They will all be recognized during the President's Dinner and Design Awards Presentation on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at Bally's in Atlantic City, NJ. There are three levels of awards: Award of Excellence, Award of Merit and Citation for Design. A "Best in New York State" Award has also been awarded. The recipient of that award will be revealed at the Design Awards Presentation.      The design categories are: Adaptive Reuse; Commercial/Industrial, Large Projects and Small Projects; Historic Preservation; Institutional; Interiors; International; Residential, Large Projects and Small Projects; Unbuilt and Urban Planning/Design. A four-color Design Awards book featuring photos, narratives and jury comments of all of the award-winning projects will be sent out to all AIANYS members in the Fall after the convention.      Congratulations to all of the recipients! ADAPTIVE REUSE Awards of Merit: El Museo Del Barrio, New York, New York, Gruzen Samton Architects, LLP, New York, New York Orchestra of St. Luke's DiMenna Center, New York, New York, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, New York, New York Wyckoff Exchange, Brooklyn, New York, Andre Kikoski Architect, PLLC, New York, New York Citation for Design: East Hampton Town Hall, East Hampton, New York, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, New York, New York COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL-LARGE PROJECTS  Awards of Merit: The Bridge, Bridgehampton, New York, Roger Ferris + Partners, Westport, Connecticut Comcast Center, Philadelphia, Pensylvania, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP New York, New York, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Inc., Houston, Texas, Associate Architect Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Brooklyn, New York, Ennead Architects, New York, New York, Design Architect, Greeley-Hansen, New York, New York, Architects/Engineers of Record, Hazen & Sawyer, New York, New York, Architects/Engineers of Record, Malcolm Pirnie, White Plains, New York, Architects/Engineers of Record COMMERCIAl/INDUSTRIAL-SMALL PROJECTS  Award of Excellence: Marc Jacobs Flagship Building, Tokyo, Japan, Jaklitsch/ Gardner Architects PC, New York, New York, Creative Designers International Tokyo, Japan, Architect of Record-Building Shell, D. Brain Co., LTD, Tokyo, Japan, Architect of Record-Interiors HISTORIC PRESERVATION Award of Excellence: Thomas Edison National Historical Park, West Orange, New Jersey, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, New York, New York Citations for Design: 648 Broadway, New York, New York, Scott Henson Architect LLC, New York, New York New York Public Library, Exterior Restoration, New York, New York, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., New York, New York INSTITUTIONAL Award of Excellence: Cornell Plantations Welcome Center, Ithaca, New York, Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, Toronto, Canada Awards of Merit: New York City Fire Department, Bronx, New York, Ennead Architects, New York, New York The Stephen Sondheim Theatre, New York, New York, Cook + Fox Architects, LLP New York, New York, Adamson Associates Architects, New York, New York, Executive Architect Citations for Design: Union County Juvenile Detention Center, Linden, New Jersey, Ricci Greene Associates, New York, New York United States Land Port of Entry, Calais, Maine, Robert Siegel Architects, New York, New York    INTERIORS Award of Excellence: Inverted Warehouse/Townhouse, New York, New York, Dean/Wolf Architects, New York, New York Award of Merit: Grey Group, New York, New York, STUDIOS Architecture, New York, New York Citation for Design: Infinity Chapel, New York, New York, Hanrahan Meyers Architects, LLP, New York, New York INTERNATIONAL Award of Excellence: Taichung InfoBox, Taichung, Taiwan, Stan Allen Architect Brooklyn, New York, W.B. Huang Architects & Planners, Taichung City, Taiwan, Associate Architect RESIDENTIAL-LARGE PROJECTS Award of Merit: The Schermerhorn, Common Ground Community, Brooklyn, New York, Ennead Architects, New York, New York Citation for Design: William Beaver House, New York, New York, Tsao & McKown Architects, New York, New York, Design Architect, SLCE Architects, New York, New York, Architect of Record RESIDENTIAL-SMALL PROJECTS Award of Merit: House for "Locavore" Farmers, Geyserville, California, Cooper Joseph Studio, New York, New York, Richardson Architects, Mill Valley, California, Associate Architect UNBUILT Citations for Design: Bike Hanger, (location unavailable), Jeeyong An, AIA, Manifesto Architecture PC, New York, New York St. Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn, New York, Geoff Lynch, AIA, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, New York, New York URBAN PLANNING DESIGN Award of Excellence: SandRidge Commons, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Rogers Marvel Architects, New York, New York Award of Merit: Zipper Park Bench System,New York, New York, WXY architecture + urban design, New York, New York Citation for Design: MTA Flood Mitigation, Queens, New York, Rogers Marvel Architects, New York, New York, Di Domenico + Partners, Long Island City, New York


William Menking reports for The Architect's NewspaperBrooklyn Dominates 2014 Municipal Art Society MASterworks Awards.



For over 120 years, the Municipal Art Society has been an important organization in New York City’s efforts to promote a more livable environment and preserve the best of its past. It’s successful preservation campaigns and advocacy for better architecture—whether its advocacy to rebuild a better Penn Station or TKTK—are well known. Now the organization has announced its annual MASterworks Awards, and of the nine buildings selected this year as honorees, six are in Brooklyn, confirming that borough’s continuing upgrading evolution.



The Weeksville Heritage Center (Caples Jefferson Architects) has won the top honor, “Best New Building,” while “Best Restoration” goes to the Englehardt Addition, Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory(Scott Henson Architect). The “Best Neighborhood Catalyst” award will be given to the BRIC Arts Media House & Urban Glass (LEESER Architecture), and “Best New Urban Amenity” will go to LeFrak Center at Lakeside (Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects). Brooklyn Bridge Park (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates) will be recognized as “Best Urban Landscape.”



Additionally, this year’s MASterworks also recognized two new design categories. “Best Adaptive Reuse” will be awarded to The Queens Museum (Grimshaw Architects) and the NYC DDC Zerega Avenue Emergency Medical Services Building (Smith-Miller Hawkinson Architects) will take home the award for “Best New Infrastructure.”



Finally, “Best Green Design Initiative” honors will be given to Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 216 (WORKac) and P.S. 261 School and Community Playground (SiteWorks Landscape Architecture). The MASterworks Awards, recognize projects completed in the preceding year that exemplify excellence in architecture and urban design and make a significant contribution to New York’s built environment.  

PROJECT Bleecker+Bond Building, New York, NY
ARCHITECT Scott Henson Architect, LLC, New York, NY; Scott Henson, principal

By Eve M. Kahn

Victorian cast-iron façades were the first curtain walls, maximizing natural light and column-free interior space. When poorly maintained, they can become unstable sieves. Scott Henson, the head of a five-person preservation architecture firm in New York City, Scott Henson Architect, LLC, spent part of the past four years overseeing the disassembly and reconstruction of a ten-story sieve.

The cast-iron 1890s front of 648 Broadway, in Manhattan's trendy NoHo neighborhood, has been brought back from the brink of crumbling to watertight and structurally secure status. The longtime owners originally hired Henson just to inspect the façade after a chunk of cast iron fell, but the assignment grew into a $1.2 million overhaul. Tenants can now gaze across NoHo's higgledy-piggledy water towers through noise-blocking double-paned windows framed by metal rosettes, wreaths, dentils, balusters, and volutes. (Much of the intricate ornamentation is new, made by Robinson Iron in Alexander City, AL, and CCR Sheet Metal in Brooklyn, NY.)

Henson was drawn to the commission partly because so many innovative Belle Epoque buildings survive nearby, including Louis Sullivan's leafy Bayard Building and McKim, Mead & White's Romanesque-arched Cable Building. "The historic and current development of the NoHo district is built upon progressive architectural experimentation," he says. The original name of 648 Broadway was the Banner Building, after its millionaire developer, Peter Banner. A wholesale clothing merchant, he also put up commercial and residential structures, including luxury apartment blocks on Central Park West.

For the first phase of 648 Broadway, he hired Cleverdon & Putzel, prolific architects of everything from Harlem row houses to a crematory in nearby Queens. Tenants, mostly clothing manufacturers and sellers, filled Cleverdon & Putzel's eight floors soon after the Banner Building opened around 1892. Six years later, Banner brought in Robert T. Lyons (the architect of several Banner apartment buildings) to add a two-story penthouse. Lyons echoed Cleverdon & Putzel's arched windows and Classical vocabulary, and the top two floors serve as a lacy six-bay capital for the four-bay plainer base and shaft. Banner was prominent enough that his daughter Rosalie married a Bloomingdale department store heir (and that couple's son married a Rothschild baroness).

But the developer apparently overextended himself. By 1906, 648 Broadway was embroiled in his bankruptcy proceedings. The current owner's family acquired it in the 1940s, and its tenant roster has evolved over the decades from handbag makers to a jazz club to designers, theater and film professionals and other creative types. The building is now loftily called Bleecker+Bond (after the adjacent side streets). Henson and the contracting team (Soho Restoration, Brooklyn, NY; subcontractor: MJE Contracting, Corona, NY) ended up removing unfortunate 20th-century accretions. Underneath a 1970s aluminum storefront, they found fluted pilasters, reliefs of lions' heads and an 1890s advertising plaque for the Cornell brothers' Manhattan iron foundry.

Leaky window air conditioners had fostered decay in the wood sash and helped corrode the wrought-iron bolts that held together the cast iron. Lyons' sheet-metal upper floors were severely deteriorated, pocked with dents and punctures. The façade had to be literally taken apart. "Cast-iron construction is a complex assembly, a very heavy, unwieldy, brittle puzzle that demands meticulous care," says Henson. Soho Restoration dismantled the façade and patched the salvageable iron with epoxy from Belzona of Glen Cove, NY. Robinson Iron and CCR fabricated and installed new elements. The fasteners are now stainless steel, and the joints are soldered. J. Scott Howell, Robinson's general manager, is a veteran of such replication projects, and reports that New York's 19th-century foundries supplied an astonishing variety of compatible patterns that clients could mix and match. "Everybody wanted something a little special about their particular location," he says.

Viles Contracting Corp. of Newark, NJ, used Cathedral Stone mortars to repair the eroded brownstone trim at the former Banner Building. JPadin of Newark installed Spanish cedar-framed, insulated-glass windows in double-hung and pivoting formats. New HVAC was woven throughout the ten floors, with mechanical equipment hoisted onto the roof, all while the offices remained occupied. Coal storage spaces on the ground floor, still full of container-loads of coal, were cleared out to adapt into a fire stair egress leading to a back alley. Henson and project subcontractor Julio Mejia recently toured a reporter through the building, starting at its foundations on granite blocks and brick ziggurats.

In a basement cavity, a brick vault arches over the adjacent subway tunnel. (A train rattled ominously through, just in time for the tour.) A petaled leaded-glass transom illuminates the lobby's white marble walls. An ADA-compliant steel ramp, fitted snugly over a basement lateral beam, now leads to the ground floor's deli. Floral and ribbon motifs recur there in the pressed-metal ceiling, exposed column capitals and penny round tile floors. On the shaft for the venerable Otis freight elevator, Eastlake florals and stripes are incised on each floor's door latches. Iron asters and scrollwork trail down the back stair's railing. Construction debris from the 1890s still lurk in a strange windowless half-floor between the Cleverdon & Putzel base and Lyons' addition. Henson has developed a kind of sub-specialty in such dusty crannies and daring vintage architectural materials around New York City.

In recent years he has secured the envelopes of everything from Flemish Revival stepped parapets to Colonial Revival limestone corner quoins, copper mansards, Beaux-Arts gilded domes, 1930s skylights, 1960s concrete balconies and 1980s curtain walls. Clients keep coming in with unique building conditions compromised by weather, time and gravity, or building components in some unexplained state of duress. "Those are the kinds of challenges I love," he says, "and that are important to me for my work as a preservation architect."  TB