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The latest news on New York architecture.

As progress dictates that we must forge on into the future, the unfortunate tearing down of the old to make room for the new means more buildings are being lost. Adaptive reuse, however, defines progress differently.

To those who may not be familiar with this type of architectural restoration, adaptive reuse takes an existing structure and refines it, breathing new life into a structure that was no longer fit for its surroundings.

Due to the multiple processes required to bridge different types of architecture and design adaptive reuse projects are usually anything but straightforward. From transforming an old church into a restaurant or taking a crumbling mill and creating a mixed-use space, large scale renovations of historic buildings can present several challenges (permits, approvals, etc.). But a developer's avoidance of adaptive reuse closes them off from many of the city's most treasured properties.

When it comes to adaptive reuse our team doesn’t shy away. Rather we follow a set of best practices that mitigates the complexity and planning of the project so that it’s successful.

Finding Common Ground

When it comes to landmarked buildings, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is heavily concerned with a building's exterior and its elements such as facade and windows. Specifics of conformity to original architectural style, as well as some of the interior construction, must meet the LPC’s requirements. Tasked with preserving beauty, the Commission will only work with a developer if they are willing to embrace the structure’s origins. However, if the developer isn't thoughtful and respectful of the requirements and the history of the property, they will most likely find themselves facing multiple obstacles with the commission.

Most importantly, we must show a clear understanding of the property’s story, and the potential of the space inside.

Do Your Research

Due diligence is the key to a successful adaptive reuse project. Having as much documentation and knowledge regarding the existing conditions of the property, including how the property was constructed, will greatly help the developer, architect and contractor. Often original documentation cannot be found or there are important details missing. The Department of Building carries microfilm that will hold clues to drawings, permits, and actions.

Coming armed with as much information as possible leads to less constraints during renovations and having ample documentation helps us to determine what is most feasible and cost-effective.

Having a Technological Advantage

As technology advances within the real estate and construction industry, innovations such as 3D laser scanning has become a staple in the design and construction process. With the use of lasers, millions of data points are captured replicating a digital version of the building's exact size and shape. This technology renders a much more accurate model of the building, allowing stakeholders to fully grasp the buildings state of health.

When it comes to adaptive reuse 3D scans reduce uncertainty for the construction team as we move forward with the project.

Staffing, Scheduling, and Budget

When developers embark on an adaptive-reuse project, it is imperative they have a well-trained staff. These projects present more challenges and complexities requiring a team that can comprehend the responsibilities they will face.

Our knowledgeable staff is vital in the participation of estimating, budgeting, and scheduling. With varying processes and concerns interwoven amongst each other, it is crucial that budget and scheduling are updated regularly through continuous evaluations for the best possible outcome to be achieved.

To learn more about historical restoration, contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

(Image © Alexander Severin)

For over 16 years, the editors of Traditional Building have resolved to give historically influenced architecture its due respect. In naming the award after Andrea Palladio, they commemorate the master teacher and architect whose principles of clarity, simplicity, proportionality, and originality remain relevant today. Each year, the Palladio Awards honor both individual designers and design teams whose work enhances the beauty and humane qualities of the built environment with Andrea Palladio’s principles in mind.

We are honored to announce that Scott Henson Architect + Stephen B. Jacobs Group have been awarded The 2017 Palladio Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse for their collaboration on The Knickerbocker Telephone Company Building! To learn more about the award winning project visit our company page!

Published in Awards

The redevelopment of the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport is a recent example of adaptive reuse in New York City which highlights the endless opportunities for repurposing the region's abandoned commercial spaces.

Beyer Blinder Belle’s recently unveiled restoration and extension proposes 505-room hotel which reuses the shell of architect Earo Saarinen's iconic mid-20th century airport terminal - considered state-of-the-art, even futuristic in its prime. Unfortunately after Trans World Airlines went bankrupt in 2001, the terminal was closed and remained in a state of abandonment for over 15 years. In 2005, the National Park Service added the TWA Flight Center to the National Register of Historic Places, providing the opportunity for a new chapter in the terminal’s life.

Once completed, the new TWA will be the airport's only full-service hotel, and will provide a host of amenities including an observation deck, bars and restaurants, and a museum showcasing Mid-Centuury Design as well as 40,000 square feet of event space.

The TWA Flight Center is scheduled to open in late 2018.

If you would like to restore or repurpose an existing building in the area, contact us to see how we can help.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

New York City is a place with a rich history, a buzzing atmosphere, and commanding architecture.  Natives and travelers alike regularly walk past sites of historic and aesthetic value unaware of the potential that lines the block. Adaptive reuse in New York City is a viable option for those who are looking to place a new function, and get new value from a building or site.  

Adaptive reuse is the practice of refitting existing architecture to meet new needs. This form of urban revitalization is becoming more common due to the practical solutions it provides for many urban centers, but it has a long tradition with New York City.

Infrastructure reflects the growth and change of a population.  New York City has always embodied this principle by adopting new purposes for old buildings, while recognizing the history of the site. The High Line, a park on Manhattan's West Side, started out as an industrial freight line and now functions as a unique, cultural attraction that provides a window to the past.  An old printing press in Brooklyn was recently transformed into a creative work space for freelancers.  Many former industrial production sites across the city now serve as apartments, department stores, and restaurants.  Many of these sites preserve certain unique architectural traits.  This provides a quality that brings together the new function of the site with the existing character.

Adapting a new function for old buildings also cuts out several phases of the design and build process.  One of these is demolition.  This saves the architects and engineers from designing an entirely new building, and saves the client money.  It also creatively challenges the designers to meet the needs of the client, while utilizing the existing structure. 

Adaptive reuse has many benefits which have helped shape the character of New York City for over two centuries.  This practice is becoming more common, and is inspiring creative solutions for the use of old architecture.  To learn more, contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse