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Interior Architecture in Adaptive Reuse

When you think of architecture, city skylines probably come to mind - the exterior appearance of buildings is what people usually associate with an architect's work.  However, there is another side of the field: interior architecture

Not to be confused with interior decorating, interior designers or architects design interior space that is bound by existing structures (walls, beams, doors) and equally restricted by human interaction (how people will use the space).  

Interior architects need a working knowledge of a wide range of subjects:

  • Building code
  • Structural integrity
  • Ergonomics and spatial concepts
  • CAD drawing
  • Design history

Interior architects work not only with home- or building-owners, but also with government agencies and builders.  In other words, interior architecture is design for living/working space in architectural rather than decorative terms. 

There are two types of interior architecture, the initial design/usage plan and adaptive reuse, or the redesign of an existing space to serve a new purpose.  According to Wikipedia:

Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition.

One example of our interior architecture work on an adaptive reuse project is 11 West 20th Street.  Built in 1901 as a store, we have been working on the exterior and interior renovations since 2007.  Our interior work has included renovating the third floor; repairing damaged masonry; and replacing the building’s historic windows with new thermally insulated windows.

If you are in need of interior architecture services, contact us for a consultation.

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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.

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.

Are you considering making physical changes to your property that will change its type of occupancy or use? Or are you in the process of new construction on a building?  In New York, completing this type of construction means you will need an amended certificate of occupancy Certificate of Occupancy.

Scott Henson Architect can file these certificates with the Department of Buildings for NYC building owners, in cases of both renovations and new construction.

In order to get a Certificate of Occupancy, your building must be inspected by the Department of Buildings. The inspector will confirm that everything in the building was constructed in accordance with your architect's approved plans, including:

  • Plumbing 
  • Fire safety (sprinkler system, alarm, fire pump pressure test)
  • Electrical 
  • Elevators 
  • Lobby completion
  • Entrances (correct number for size; no obstructions)

A Department of Buildings inspector will want to confirm that major construction is complete on the job site and that there are no safety hazards in the space, such as obstructions at the entrances or construction that would impede fire safety. According to city government,

No one may legally occupy a building until the Department has issued a Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

When a final Certificate of Occupancy is issued, this confirms that the construction on your building is compliant with all legal guidelines, including the filing of proper paperwork, fees, and approvals, and that any violations have been resolved.

If you need assistance in filing your Certificate of Occupancy, contact us to start the process today.

At Scott Henson Architecture, we can't overemphasize the importance of site safety plan preparation.  More than 20% of workplace fatalities happen in the construction business, according to OSHA, so having a proactive plan to keep your job site safe is not only good business - it can really save lives.

The key components of a typical site safety plan are:

  • New employee and ongoing staff training, including rules for when to use and where to find personal protective equipment.
  • Inspection of the site and all equipment, followed by periodic audits. Electrocutions are the second-highest cause of death in construction, so we take care that our equipment is always in good working order.
  • Accountability, both on the leadership side and on the employee side.

We put in writing, in simple, clear language, the important facts:

WHO is in charge of maintaining the safety of our job site.

WHAT the rules and expectations are.  (For instance, everyone has to use protective eye wear.)

WHEN an accident happens, the process for dealing with it.

WHERE personal protective equipment is kept.

WHY everyone is responsible for safety.

The GC or site manager can't be everywhere at once, and just meeting the minimum legal requirements isn't enough to keep an accident from happening. Every construction project must have a set of standards in place so that anyone on the site can react quickly to a safety situation.  

Interested in innovative solutions for building maintenance and historic preservation?

Contact us to discuss your next project.

What is Architectural Conservation?

Architectural conservation aims to preserve the historical aesthetics and inherent value of an aging structure. Architectural conservation involves a range of techniques, including restoration, rehabilitation and implementation of legal standards that restrict the modification or demolition of historically important buildings.

Architectural conservation seeks to retain original building materials and decorative finishes as much as possible. Properties that suffer significant deterioration may be rehabbed with modern materials in ways that give every appearance of historical authenticity.

Some of Our Conservation Projects

The Knickerbocker Telephone Company building that stands squarely on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan is one example of respectful restoration as done by Scott Henson Architecture. In partnership with General Growth Properties, the Knickerbocker building is currently undergoing a full facade restoration, cornice repair and rooftop redevelopment. When the project is complete, the handsome brownstone will offer upscale office space for Manhattan businesses.

285 Central Park West is a splendid example of turn-of-the-20th-century Beaux Arts residential elegance. Scott Henson Architecture is pleased to have been the architect responsible for the restoration and preservation of this visually stunning structure.

Who We Are

Manhattan is home to countless old buildings of architectural and historical significance, and Henson Architecture is proud to be an integral part of their preservation. Ever sensitive to the architectural significance of conservation projects, Scott Henson seeks always to preserve the context and authentic nature of historical structures for the visual and cultural enjoyment of current and future generations.

When you are ready to know more about architectural conservation and how it positively impacts New York City, please contact us without hesitation.

Urban areas are often overcrowded with an abundance of unused buildings. Buildings boasting exceptional architectural details that once served the community well are cast aside to make way for modern buildings to fit the needs of a rapidly advancing technological society. The redeeming features of these buildings are often overlooked, and contractors sometimes fail to see the potential in an older building. Many historical buildings can be updated and restored for use in a different way-a term referred to as adaptive reuse

Adaptive reuse is a resourceful alternative to demolition. Not to be confused with historic renovation, adaptive reuse brings new meaning to a historic building, whereas a renovation would attempt to preserve the original historic use of the building. Adaptive reuse is a sustainable option because it reduces waste and pollution created from demolition and requires less new materials than a brand new building. 

Buildings most suitable for adaptive reuse usually include schools, churches, political buildings, and industrial buildings. These types of buildings are often good candidates for adaptive reuse because they can no longer accommodate the advances required for that particular industry, but could serve another purpose quite well. For example, an old school that simply cannot accommodate the rapidly growing student body might make a fantastic apartment building or community center. An old church could be transformed into a stunning, unique restaurant. 

Many factors influence the decision to reuse a building. Physical damage to the original building, the location of the site, historical significance of the site, and environmental factors all play a part in deciding whether a building can be successfully adapted for new use. Extensive physical damage or dangerous contamination from asbestos are barriers to adaptive reuse. 

Many cities have exceptional examples of buildings adapted for new purposes. New York City boasts many successful adaptive reuse projects, such as The Refinery, the retail space in the former Manufacturers Hanover Trust building, and the plans to turn the James A. Farley post office into a Penn Station annex. 

The Refinery Hotel, formerly a garment district millinery, is now an upscale hotel located in midtown Manhattan. The neo-gothic facade of this ornate building was originally inspired by classical Greek architecture. Built in 1912, the original millinery building was carefully adapted for use as a hotel, preserving the industrial innards such as Gothic-arched windows and entries adorned with sculptural details. 

Manufacturers Hanover Trust was built in 1954, with the intention of being a modern take on the traditional bank building. The glass structure lent an air of transparency never-before-seen in bank buildings, and even the vault was visible from Fifth Avenue. Located at 510 Fifth Avenue, the building was adapted for use as a retail shopping space. The project effectively preserved the original architectural design of the building while presenting the community with a modern shopping facility. 

The James A. Farley Post Office is located across from Penn Station, and has been the focus of an adaptive reuse project that will greatly impact the city. The post office is projected to become an annex to the bustling Penn Station, creating a grand entry to the station and a much-needed expansion for ticketing, baggage operations and offices. The project has been plodding along slowly since its conception 25 years ago, but as of late has been picking up steam. 

Adaptive reuse is a fitting option for many historical buildings in overcrowded cities. Not only do these projects reduce urban sprawl, but they also conserve resources and breathe new life into communities. Please contact us to learn more about the benefits of adaptive reuse.

New York City's Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), also known as Local Law 11, requires the facades of buildings of six or more stories to be inspected for safety every five years.  The latest inspection period, Cycle 8, started in February 2015 and ends in February 2020. Here's what you need to know:

Who needs to get a FISP inspection?

All New York City buildings that are over six stories must be inspected once every five years.  Check your subcycle with the NYC Department of Buildings to determine when you are due to be inspected.

Who can complete the inspection?

An engineer or architect can conduct a thorough inspection of your building's facade and exterior walls.  This qualified expert will submit a statement to the NYC Department of Buildings that labels your building one of three statuses:

  • SAFE: No action needed
  • UNSAFE: Must be repaired immediately (within 30 days of inspection)
  • SWARMP: Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program - must be repaired before the next inspection

Scott Henson Architect is qualified to perform these inspections; contact us to schedule a FISP inspection now.

What happens if you skip the inspection?

Penalties range from $250 per month for filing your FISP report late to $1,000 per month for failing to file at all.

Schedule Your Inspection Now with Scott Henson Architect

 

Since 2009, New York City Local Law 84 has mandated that owners of large building measure and report energy and water use. Known as "Benchmarking" the law is one of four that comprise the New York City Greener, Greater Building Plan (GGBP) enacted to reduce energy use, increase energy efficiency and promote clean energy 30 percent by 2030. The law's primary purpose is to standardize that process for capturing and reporting on the data needed to measure its success in achieving these and other goals set forth in the unprecedented citywide green initiative, PlaNYC .

The GGBP Targets Large Buildings

The GGBP suite of laws, including LL 84, specifically target the largest New York City buildings. The law doesn't exempt any property types. Large buildings constitute half of the City's built square footage and 45 percent of citywide energy use and produce about 75 percent of New York City’s green house gas (GHG) emissions come from energy used in buildings.

According to the site metered.nyc, LL84 applies to, "all private buildings larger than 50,000 square feet (about a 50-unit apartment building) and all properties with two or more buildings that combined are larger than 100,000 square feet, with a small threshold for city-owned properties."

You can find a listing of buildings that fall under the jurisdiction of the GGBP and LL84 at Covered Building List.

Annual Reporting Is Required

An annual report for the previous year's energy and water consumption must be submitted to a free online benchmarking tool by May 1st. Building owners who fail to complete submission on subsequent deadline dates (Aug. 1, Nov. 1 and Feb. 1) will incur additional penalties of $500 per quarter up to a maximum of $2,000.

The Submission Process

In New York City building owners or their hired consultants log into Portfolio Manager, enter defining characteristics for a building, and provide data from a calendar year’s worth of energy bills. The tool, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, applies calculations and algorithms to the data to generate information about a building's energy use per square foot, carbon emissions , and for some, a 1-to-100 score that can be used to compare it against similar buildings across the nation.

Submission instructions for owners is provided on the How to Comply page at NYC.gov or you can enlist the help of Scott Henson Architect to manage your energy use reporting and compliance. We can also provide consulting and expertise on improving energy results, year-over-year.

For more information about our LL84 usage reporting services, reach out to us.

Many may wonder why anyone would choose historic building preservation over building something brand new. Historic building restoration provides many benefits to a community and preserves a link to the past. Preserving historic buildings can also prevent urban sprawl in many communities, as restoring existing buildings may eliminate the need to build something new.

Preservation is also an eco-friendly option. It eliminates the need for demolition and the vast amount of resources necessary for building something new from the ground up. Demolition can also release harmful toxins from older building materials into the air and soil, while renovation can be done in a safer manner to reduce exposure to these toxins. Overall, renovation reduces garbage, preserves resources, and saves money.

Historic buildings add warmth, charm, and appeal that cannot be found in more modern, stark architecture. Cities and towns with a surplus of modern buildings lose the ties to history that define the community and make it unique. Historic buildings have details, materials, and craftsmanship that cannot be found in modern architecture. Preserving these buildings not only provides a community with a link to their past, but also teaches new generations of builders about techniques used in the past that they may apply to their work today.

Restoring historic buildings can provide a much-needed face-lift to a deteriorating neighborhood, and sometimes attract investors. Tax incentives and grants can drastically cut the costs of restoration, and in many cases, investors can make a decent amount of money. Tourists LOVE historic buildings, and restoring buildings to their original splendor can create a hot spot for visitors-this means a business boom for the entire community. Depending on the function of the building, restoration can also mean new jobs for community members.

Sometimes old buildings sit for decades without being touched or used for anything at all. They become an eyesore without any function. Yet many cities face problems of overcrowded classrooms or lack of housing. Restoring these buildings solves two problems at once-it turns an eyesore into a magnificent structure, and provides a functional use to the community as well. Many historic buildings have been renovated for functional use as schools, libraries, housing units, or a site for community events.

Historical building preservation beautifies communities, attracts tourists, creates more business, and offers functional solutions to community needs. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about preserving and renovating historic buildings.