The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Breathing Life Back Into Your Historic Building Envelope

    Breathing Life Back Into Your Historic Building Envelope

    New York City's Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), formally known as Local Law 11, requires the facades of buildings of six or more stories to be inspected for safety 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 This measure was a replacement for Local Law 10, originally enacted in the late 1990’s, which required inspections of only the front side of buildings. The latest inspection period, Cycle 8, started in February 2015 and ends in February 2020.


    When restoring a building, one of the first steps is giving the building an assessment of its current condition. The structure should be examined, which includes the roof, foundation, walls, gutters, windows and interior leaks. 

    Buildings in New York City typically have membrane roofing made of synthetic rubber, modified bitumen or thermoplastic. With flat roofs, it’s important to note any ponding water and other signs of damage. If the roof is slate, it’s important to look for damaged and missing material.

    As for the exterior walls, unsafe conditions include items such as loose or cracked bricks, cracked windows, missing mortar, improperly secured air conditioners, and any other conditions which may be dangerous to pedestrians below. Unsafe conditions must be dealt with immediately which involves installing a sidewalk shed within a 30-day period. Then an amended report must be filed confirming the repairs required. Extensions of up to 90 days may be granted if necessary.


    The SHA team is a full-service architectural firm. Our goal is to ensure that your building is both functional and beautiful, and we pay special attention to the historic details of the building exterior. In order to complete accurate repairs, we utilize the original materials or replicate them to achieve the appearance of the original design.

    Another option for exterior building restoration is adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse projects maintain the historic envelope while updating the interior. Updating the existing interior rather than the construction of a new structure saves money and time. This option is also a means of preserving the history, identity and charm of a city. Adaptive reuse of buildings is also eco-friendly, as fewer building materials are being utilized. 

    If you find yourself in need of exterior building restoration or adaptive reuse design projects, contact Scott Henson Architect, located in New York City. Our approach is innovative, sustainable and respectful in order to preserve the integrity of historic structures.

  • 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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