The latest news on New York architecture.

An Art Deco masterpiece that has defined the Manhattan skyline for nearly 90 years is going up for sale in 2019. Currently co-owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council and New York property developer, Tishman Speyer, the Chrysler Building is expected to sell for as much as one billion dollars.

The Chrysler Building is the eighth tallest building in New York City standing at 77 floors. At the date of its completion in 1930, this structure was the tallest building in the world with a height of 1,046- feet, including the 197-foot spire. This claim to fame was short lived, however, when the Empire State Building topped out at 1,250-feet 11 months later.

Here are a few facts you might not know about the Chrysler Building:

  • The iconic Chrysler Building is constructed of nearly four million hand-laid bricks
  • 3,862 windows offer city views from the historic structure
  • Nearly 30 tons of steel were used to erect the famous skyscraper
  • The lobby of the Chrysler Building features Moroccan marble walls and floors
  • The eagle gargoyles on the building are replicas of a real Chrysler hood ornament
  • An observation deck on the 71st floor was closed to the public in 1945
  • Renowned LIFE magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White once lived on the 61st floor
  • The spire was installed one day before the infamous 1929 stock market crash
  • The ceiling mural in the lobby is called "Transport and Human Endeavor"
  • The mural was painted by notable New York artist, Edward Trumbull

The last time the Chrysler Building sold it was for more than 800 million dollars. This time around, the Art Deco icon may sell for much more if the right investor can be found. NYC Realty Advisors president, Thomas Birnbaum, calls the building "an absolute trophy" even though it can't compete with amenities offered by more modern buildings in New York.

At Scott Henson Architect we’re delighted to discuss the preservation and restoration of famous landmarks such as this and other amazing Manhattan properties. To know more, contact us.

Published in Press

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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Hire an architect with experience in specifying the right windows for your building.

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Published in Blog

The world of adaptive reuse and historic preservation has found ways to successfully adapt and use historic buildings in modern neighborhoods. Social needs, such as for artist's housing, and needs for adaptive access, so all citizens can use the old buildings, have been successfully met. The old armories, however, have a number of challenges that are unique to their nature as urban fortresses.

The armories were developed initially as the home fort for state militias, with room for storage of ammunition and weapons, room for drilling a company or more of soldiers, storage and living quarters, administrative offices, storage and management of provisions--all of the space needed to house, feed, and equip a fighting unit of soldiers. So the armories are huge, both large in interior space, many an entire block long, and built with the sturdiness of a building designed to protect armament. This massive scale, both in size and in the thickness and weight of the walls and other structural supports, is a challenge when adapting the spaces to other uses.

The armories have mostly been in the ownership of the state, and as they were no longer needed for active military service, the state has ceded ownership over to the city. The city, having responsibility to provide some social services for their people, used the large spaces to provide homeless shelters and other social service needs. The grand scale of the buildings make them useful for a large-scale operation of this type, but neighborhoods have had difficulty when these needed but challenging uses impacted the quality of life in the neighborhood. In addition, there is some thought that the buildings, being designed as they were, should be prepped and available for citizens to use in the event of natural disasters. This potential use, while needed, is very expensive to maintain as space.

Some armories are being studied to evaluate their feasibility to be adapted into mixed income housing. Like many of these projects, competing interests of neighborhood quality of life versus the need for affordable housing makes the conversation challenging.
It will not be easy or cheap to adapt these massive military forts into uses for the modern day, with access for all and the systems that in modern life we need, such as HVAC, fire suppression systems, modern water catchment, sewage and plumbing. But their architecture is unique, and their scale and grandeur cannot be duplicated in modern times. To retain their uniqueness, we need to find suitable connections and interests between competing parties, and meet the challenge of adaptive reuse with innovative thinking.

For more information on adaptive reuse and historic building preservation, please contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

No one wants their building's balcony to collapse. On the other hand, no one wants to spend an insane amount of money to repair or replace their building’s balcony unless it is absolutely necessary.

Balconies are generally made of reinforced concrete. It is always a good idea to regularly check for any rust stains, cracks, spalling and loose railings. These can indicate that you have a balcony issue that needs to be addressed. The best time to check for any of these warning signs is at the end of winter.

With proper yearly maintenance, your concrete balcony can last for decades. Unfortunately, many balconies that improperly maintained will only last for a few years before they need to be fully restored.

Before you make any decisions regarding your balcony, you should consult with an architect. The architect will be able to determine if the balcony has enough stability and if it is structurally sound. If you have noticed a problem that needs to be repaired or maintained, do not hesitate to contact us today for a consultation.

Published in Miscellaneous

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
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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 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