The latest news on New York architecture.

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What is the Green Plot Ratio?

The green plot ratio, known as GPR, is a powerful metric in urban design and development.

GPR is an architectural metric utilized for assessing and planning the inclusion of greenery in cities and buildings. This metric was devised by Singaporean landscape architect Dr. On Boon. GPR was developed with the intent of optimizing the amount of green space, or plant coverage, in an urban environment.

Using GPR an architect has a quantifiable measure to determine how much greenery should be incorporated to counteract the absorption of heat in the building fabric as well as enhancing the qualities of open space.

How is GPR Calculated?

GPR is a scientific ratio of plant coverage onsite to determine the ideal amount of greenery for creating sustainability in urban design. The ratio is determined based on the biological parameter of the "leaf area index", or LAI, a form of measurement for the total leaf area  per unit of ground area. LAI is calculated by taking a sample of foliage from the plant canopy, measuring the leaf area of the sample, and dividing it by the relevant plot size. The resulting GPR is the average LAI of the greenery on site, and the ratio depends on the type of greenery:

  • Grass: 1:1
  • Bushes/shrubs: 3:1
  • Trees: 6:1

Urban green space helps play a vital role in the sustainable design and biodiversity within cities. Quality urban green space can help improve the quality of city life. Architects can utilize GPR to help maximize your green space potential without sacrificing on the utility or overall vision of the building project.   

Why Use GPR?

Urban sprawl has led to increases in pollution, consumption of energy and resources. As a response to the global climate crisis, increasing the use of greenery in our architectural designs can help drive sustainable development.

The increased use of plants in urban design drives health and well being benefits, affects the quality of the air in our city and can contribute towards decreasing the effect of heat islands.

If you’d like to know more about implementing GPR on an upcoming project, contact Scott Henson Architect. By creating more efficient buildings in NYC with the use of GPR, we are working to help reduce the contribution of carbon emissions in the city.

Published in Blog

After 238 proposals and 14 months of intense speculation, Amazon recently announced the new location for their second North American headquarters in Long Island City, New York.

Why Long Island City?

Long Island City is close in proximity to New York City - offering cultural institutions, international airports, public transit options and many other benefits of a densely populated urban area. Long Island City is a recently redeveloped area along the East River in Queens, New York. It has its own enticements such as residential towers with waterfront views, art galleries including MoMA PS1 and the landscaped riverfront park. The state of New York has offered approximately $1.7 billion in subsidies and incentives to lure Amazon in.

Where in Long Island City will the Headquarters be?

Per agreements between Long Island City and Amazon, the company’s headquarters will be built on a site in the Anable Basin area, north of the Hunters Point high-rise development. The site is a mix of publicly and privately-owned buildings, and is bordered by the East River, 46th Avenue, 44th Road and Vernon Boulevard.

While many of Long Island City’s industrial areas have been replaced with shiny new residential and commercial buildings, there are still pockets of historic architecture such as the Hunter’s Point Historic District - a single-block of 2-story pre-war homes along 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Streets.

Who will be designing the Long Island City Headquarters?

No one knows currently. While making their decision regarding site location, Amazon worked with the Innovation Center's development team to make sure the site listed in the agreement could be developed to meet their requirements. However, Amazon has been silent about whether or not they intend to work with this team moving forward.

The Innovation Center development team Amazon previously worked with includes:

  • TF Cornerstone (developer of several residential towers near the proposed site)
  • Handel Architects (architecture firm known for the design of the September 11th memorial)
  • Nielsen Matthews (a landscape architect with experience designing flood-prone sites)

What are the current plans for the Headquarters?

The current plans call for an initial development of around 4 million square feet of space across multiple buildings, with the potential to expand it to 8 million square feet later on. Amazon anticipates creating as many as 40,000 new jobs for workers in the New York City area over the next 15 years.

Stay tuned for more information on this and other projects being developed around NYC. If you are looking for an architect for your own project - contact uscontact us for more information today.

Published in Miscellaneous

The Knickerbocker Telephone Company Building has been selected as a Finalist in the Architizer A+Awards for the Architecture +Preservation category.

As a Finalist, our work is amongst a handful in the world for that category, and is competing for the two most sought-after awards: The Architizer A+ Jury Award and the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award.

Here is the best part! YOU, the public, chooses who wins the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award. Public voting is open from July 10th to July 20th.

Vote for Scott Henson Architect Here

 Click Here to Vote for Scott Henson Architect!


All Finalists and Special Mentions can be viewed on the finalists page at awards.architizer.com/finalists.

The Jury Winners and Popular Choice Winners will be announced on July 30th. In the meantime, help us spread the word!

Published in Awards

What is worth preserving will typically vary from person to person. When something is called historic, it usually means that it is worth the time and effort that is needed to preserve it. The same goes for historic buildings. Building preservation, restoration, and adaptive reuse can potentially revitalize a community and bring new opportunities.

Many older buildings have inherent value, as they are typically built with sturdy and high-quality materials that are hard to find today. A historic building that was once a central part of a neighborhood or a community, such as a church or school, can be preserved or re-adapted for new use. Restoring historic buildings offers us the opportunity to combine all the benefits of contemporary construction with attractive historic features, often of very high architectural and cultural value.

Aside from the aesthetic value that can be found in old buildings, there are various economic advantages to purchasing an older building. Many new business owners tend to prefer setting up shop in an older building because it is shown that buildings with historic value have an economic advantage over their modern counterparts.

A full-service architectural firm has the tools and resources you need to preserve a historic building in your neighborhood. Once a building is gone, the opportunities to preserve, restore and reuse are no longer available. Do not let a historic building in your neighborhood get demolished. Contact us today for more information on what steps you can take to preserve a historic building in your community.

Published in Landmarks Preservation
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Understanding Local Law 84

If you own a large building, then you should already be aware of Local Law 84Local Law 84, also known as the NYC Benchmarking Law. This law holds you responsible for reporting the water and energy consumption of your property.

Starting in 2018, Local Law 84 is expanding to include mid-size buildings that are larger than 25,000 square feet, but less than 50,000 square feet. This means that a whole new range of properties will now be required to comply with Local Law 84. Because of this, it is very important owners of mid-size buildings are able to understand and provide the necessary information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online portal, because a failure to comply will result in a penalty.  

The purpose of this law is not only to help the local authorities understand the consumption of water and energy, but allow for an increased amount of transparency. This is of particular importance because many people, when looking for a place to live, take into consideration the energy efficiency of the building. By collecting this data, the city will be able to provide both landlords and renters with the information they need in order to make more sustainable choices. 

The Process

If you’re a mid-size building owner and you aren't sure how to comply with the new annual benchmarking process, we’re here to help. Below, please find the necessary steps we’ve provided, which will help you understand the necessary forms to complete and how to get your building information registered:

1. Check the Covered Buildings List online for your property every year.

2. Set up an account in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, if you don't already have one.

3. Enter or review the characteristics and uses of your building.

4. Collect every bit of energy and water data from your utilities provider for the entire building.

5. Record your energy and water usage in the Portfolio Manager® account you created in step 2 above.

6. Confirm and enter your BBL and BIN information.

7. Check your data for errors and completeness, and make adjustments as needed.

8. Submit usage data to the City by May 1 of every year through your profile.

This process will help the New York City better plan energy uses in the future. Environmental protection remains a priority in the entire city, the stakeholders of which realize the importance of being as responsible as possible with energy and water. By knowing your energy consumption, you can then work towards making positive changes and reduce the energy used by your building. 

If you own a building, you already know that there are a variety of inspections and laws you need to adhere to on a continuous basis. Local Law 84 is just one of them. But you don't need to panic; instead, simply work with experts that are there to help you navigate through the laws. If you have any questions, or need help in getting started, please contact uscontact us.

Published in Miscellaneous

The Switzerland 2016 Venice Bienale Pavilion, “Incidental Space,” under the direction of Zurich based architect Christian Kerez, is a provocative entry aimed to raise the controversial question of architecture’s role in production and experience. The pavilion’s installation encompasses a grotesque and cloudlike exterior with a gaping and corroded looking interior. The fibre-cement structure has two openings that have visual ambiguity inspired by geological, anatomical, and organic imagery.

With no direct intention for the piece, it is up to participants to define their own experience and determine the significance of the project.

As Kerez describes, "What we were looking for here is openness in terms of meaning; it's not a symbolic space, it is not a referential space, it allows you to initiate a pure encounter with architecture."
The model building began with experimenting with sugar and dust, which led to the final result of a full scale plotted and CNC milled structure. However, the extensive use of 3D modeling software to create the knobby and decrepit forms, did not take precedence over the physical manifestation of the piece. The “return to hand” in this year’s Bienale is a value that has been reinforced by hot ticket participant Peter Zumthor. Primitive in principle and form, “Incidental Space” is a euphoric and stark departure that seeks to challenge and redefine ideas of beauty, production and experience in contemporary practice.

To stay up-to-date on international architecture news, make sure to follow our Facebook page.

Published in Events
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When Sidewalks Attack

Winter is over but it's effects are still taking a toll on our sidewalks. Due to New YorkNew York winters, the chemicals and salt used to clear the snow from the streets damage the sidewalks. While it is necessary to clear the snow, the wear and tear of winter can do a number on our sidewalks.

You've seen them - uneven and cracked sidewalks. You may have even felt them by getting your heel caught in a crack or tripping over buckled concrete. When sidewalks attack, it's time to consider sidewalk replacement.

In order to fix your unsightly sidewalk, you should engage a professional firm that is experienced with the New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules and the repair and replacement of sidewalks and vaults.  

A sidewalk replacement project can involve:

  • Designing and specifying structural and paving details
  • Filing and obtaining necessary city agency permits
  • Contractor bidding and negotiation
  • Construction management

In addition to the basics listed above, many businesses and homeowners find that beautification is an important reason to engage a sidewalk replacement expert. 

By adding well-conceived paving plans that takes into consideration the types of materials that can best withstand traffic, you can improve the aesthetics of your building.  

A more attractive external appearance improves the sense of arrival for a visitor or customer, resulting in better foot traffic for a business.  Likewise, an appealing sidewalk-scape will contribute to the long-term value of your property.   

Scott Henson Architect specializes in sidewalk replacement, paving plans, and street tree designs. Contact us to start the conversation about using aesthetics to improve the value of your property.

Published in Restoration

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
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Foundation Reconstruction and Repairs

Time and construction often take their toll on buildings. Older buildings often cannot handle modern construction or elements and need to be repaired or reinforced. Vault and foundation reconstruction is a procedure that has the potential to be very costly. Some buildings require to be reinforced rather than be totally reconstructed, but this is not always the case. Many reasons surround the need for foundation reconstruction and many solutions exist to aid in this reconstruction.

Why a Foundation Needs Repair or Reconstruction

There is a multitude of reasons as to why a building needs routine repairs and reinforcements. A bulged or cracked wall is an indication that the very foundation of a building is not very solid. Professionals are able to detect the means necessary to repair or reinforce these cracks. However, if a problem cannot be addressed without excavating a wall or foundation, reinforcement is out the window and the need for the entire reconstruction of the foundation is in.

Of course, it is far more costly to reconstruct a foundation than it would be to repair or reinforce it. This often deters people from allowing the reconstruction to be done. It is important to note that an entire building can crumble if the foundation is not stable or properly built to support it. A one-time cost is surely better than a long-term or permanent problem.

Pilasters are common tools for repairing a building's foundation. Pilasters are typically preventative measures to take against a foundation cracking further. They add stability to a foundation that does not have a lot of damage.

Steel I and U-beams are used on foundations with minor damage as a result of movement. They are like pilasters and they add stability to a foundation. They also assist in preventing further damage.

Foundation anchors are used in more serious circumstances. These tools anchor a damaged wall to surrounding soil. This, of course, prevents movement and further damage from taking place.

To conclude, vault and foundation reconstruction or repairs are necessary for all buildings. Historic buildings especially need constant maintenance to ensure that common damage does not have the potential to become a more serious problem.

For more information on vault and foundation reconstruction, please contact us today.

Published in Restoration

When you hear the term interior design, what comes to mind? If you think that interior design is all about decor, you're only half right. Here are a few things you need to know about the art of NYC building interior design:NYC building interior design:

Some architects are interior designers, but not all interior designers are architects

Architects and interior designers are well-trained professionals, and both must be licensed to work in the state of New York. Each is an integral part of any new home project. Their jobs coordinate, but do not entirely overlap.

Architects are responsible for program planning. Architects put together floor plans and room adjacencies. It is the architect who facilitates the 'flow' between rooms. It is also the architect who analyzes the environment of the site. An architect ensures code compliance and coordinates team members to manage the integration of technical structural systems such as electricity and plumbing.

Interior designers coordinate with architects to plan indoor spaces. An interior designer may help to select building materials and colors to be incorporated in the architect's elevations. Flooring finishes, cabinetry, door styles, task lighting and fireplaces may be selected by the interior designer.

If the person for whom a structure is being designed has specific furniture in mind, the interior designer will collaborate with the architect to design room layout and facilitate traffic patterns.

When you choose Scott Henson Architect to be your design firm, you enjoy the ease of working with one company that manages every aspect of architecture and interior design. We specialize in creating structures that are beautiful, sound and highly functional.

If you'd like to know more about building interior design in New York City, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Published in Miscellaneous
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