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The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Things to Consider When Replacing Windows in New York City

    Things to Consider When Replacing Windows in New York City

    When replacing windows on construction projects in New York City, it is important to choose the right type of window and a qualified installer to do the work. There are several important things that need to be considered when choosing the proper window replacement, including whether your building is within a historic district, whether you’re concerned with acoustical or thermal performance, or whether the window is being installed as a retrofit or brick-to-brick.

    Which Materials to Use

    There are many materials that you can use for your windows, and they all have pros and cons. For example, steel windows are great for aesthetic purposes. However, they are also more expensive than other options.
    Wood windows are great for older buildings within historic districts that must conform to a specific style, but they also require a lot of maintenance. If you are not within the boundaries of a historic district, aluminum is both an inexpensive and low-maintenance option.

    Brick-to-brick vs. Retrofit Installation

    A “brick to brick” installation involves removing the complete frame, casing, jambs, brick mold, and trim. This type of installation is more expensive as the entire window is removed from the opening and any deteriorated material is cleaned out entirely. The new window with complete frame is installed, leveled and mechanically secured into place.

    Brick to brick installation is a good option if you desire thermal and acoustical performance. This allows for windows to be insulated thoroughly around the new frame, guaranteeing a tight seal. Additionally, this option allows for better sight lines and is the preferred option for historic buildings.

    A “retrofit” installation means that a replacement window is installed into the existing frame. The sash is removed from the frame and all materials around the frame remains intact. The new sash is then secured into the existing frame. Retrofit installations can be a much more cost efficient option, as the labor required is significantly less than when the installers aren’t replacing the entire frame. A major disadvantage with retrofit windows is that it is difficult to know what’s behind the existing frame, which means you’d be unable to address any thermal or acoustical bridges, or structural issues. You’d also have noticeably reduced sight lines because you are essentially installing a window inside a window, which is aesthetically less attractive.

    Insulated Glass

    Insulated windows are generally better for energy efficiency, as they trap air between the panes. Insulated windows are typically filled with argon or krypton gas, which makes the air denser, reducing the chance for energy to escape. You can also get glass that that has a coating designed to block UV rays and heat from the sun, thus keeping your home cooler in the summer and saving energy.

    For standard double insulated windows, you can expect about 90% of a building’s energy to be retained. A triple insulated window will hold about 97% of your building’s energy inside.
    Triple insulated windows excel at reducing condensation, and for cold winter months, this is an immense benefit. A higher indoor relative humidity helps regulate the temperature inside your home during the chillier months.

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  • NYC Tax Photos Online Provide Insight in Architectural Development

    NYC Tax Photos Online Provide Insight in Architectural Development

    For the historic building enthusiast, New York City offers timeless architecture and a sense of nostalgia. The preservation of these historical buildings provides a small glimpse of what New York City looked like in the early 20th century.

    Starting in 1939, a group of photographers spread themselves throughout all five boroughs to undertake a project organized by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the New York City Department of Taxation. The original goal was to utilize these photos to appraise property value. These organizations had no idea just how valuable these photos would become in development today.

    Until recently, the ability to view these 1940s tax photos was an expensive and lengthy process.  In order to remedy this issue, the New York City Department of Records & Information Services has released a compilation of historic photos of the city to the public, available for online use. There are now 720,000 digitized images of every existing building in New York City between 1939 and 1941 for any user to view online. To peruse the photo gallery, click here.

    While these photos give us a snapshot of what city life looked like back in the day, they prove most useful in preserving historic architectural details. Even in the subsequent tax photos taken in the 1980s, we start to see alterations in the building fabric as many historic details are removed and replaced with cheaper interventions. Before completing any renovation, we must consider the historic details that make a building special.

    Scott Henson Architect prides itself in the preservation of historic New York City buildings. Our design aesthetic focuses on innovation combined with the preservation of historic detail and the SHA team values our clients’ goals and visions. Please set up a consultation and contact us today.

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