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The latest news on New York architecture.

NYC Department of Buildings law requires that all big buildings (6 stories and higher) must have their facades professionally inspected every five years. This law was formerly known as Local Law 11 and was renamed as Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP). The current filing window for Cycle 8 has closed as of February 2019. The upcoming five year Cycle 9 will begin in February 2020 and closes in February 2024.

Background on FISP

Originally named Local Law 10, the law was enacted in the early 1980s by then-Mayor Ed Koch after several people were tragically injured. The first person was a Barnard College student who was struck by a piece of falling terra cotta in 1979 and died on West 115th Street. In 1982, a 28-year-old lawyer was struck by a piece of falling masonry as she was walking in downtown Brooklyn. On her way to court that morning, she had returned to her office to retrieve her umbrella.

Local Law 10 was reformed in 1997 after several incidents of collapse and falling masonry throughout NYC. While there were no immediate fatalities, the collapses catapulted Local Law 10 requirements to the public’s attention. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for the original law to be revised and renamed as the updated Local Law 11 in 1998.

Does My Building Need a Facade Inspection?

Any NYC building owner with a six-story or taller building must comply with the law. If you have not had your façade inspected by February 2019, your fines will start to add up. The fines begin at $250 per month for a late filing and can reach $1,000 per year for not filing at all.

Who Can Perform FISP in Compliance with NYC Law?

Scott Henson Architect specializes in exterior building inspections to ensure your building is in compliance with FISP. Our team of licensed architects has performed thousands of routine inspections and can help ensure that your building is ready to be inspected in upcoming Cycle 9. The exterior inspection requires a close, critical examination and must be completed by a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). Your professional inspector must be a NYS licensed engineer or architect. We can perform the inspection and report to the NYC Department of Buildings your building conditions determining that it falls into one of the three following categories: SAFE, UNSAFE or SWARMP.

  • SAFE buildings require no repairs.
  • UNSAFE buildings require immediate repairs within 30 days. Building owners are responsible for providing sidewalk shields or similar protections for the public.
  • SWARMP (Safe With A Repair and Maintenance Program) conditions vary by building, your FISP facade inspector can provide detailed information describing exactly what needs to be repaired.

Preserving New York City architecture is our passion at Scott Henson Architect. Keep up with the latest updates in NYC building regulations on our website. If you need to schedule your upcoming Cycle 9 FISP inspection, contact us and we’ll ensure your building is in compliance with NYC laws.

Published in Restoration

The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) published a study detailing how the designation of historic districts in the city has affected home prices. The IBO found that prices for homes in historic districts have been consistently higher than those outside historic districts. In the report's introduction, the IBO evaluates the relationship between historic districts and the correlation of higher property values.

Aesthetic Guarantees

Potential drivers of higher home prices in historic districts are the guarantee that neighboring homes will remain largely unchanged as the exteriors are protected and federal tax benefits can also be utilized to rehabilitate the historic homes to incentivize homeowners to maintain their properties. In other areas, a buyer could purchase a valuable home only to see other houses on the block torn down or dramatically altered later, changing the look and feel of the neighborhood and theoretically depressing the value of any remaining homes.

In a historic district, all homes are held to similar requirements and drastic changes to the neighborhood are less of a threat. While the IBO mentions that some homeowners fear the loss of property rights that occur in a historic district, their report shows that those restrictions don't negatively impact home values.

Tax Benefits

In many cases, federal tax benefits exist for the purchasing or rehabilitation of homes in historic districts. This incentive not only makes historic districts more attractive to buyers but may also increase the value of the property for resale. These tax benefits should be partially capitalized into the price of the historic property.

Neighborhood Quality

The aesthetic and charm of a historic neighborhood gives buyers a sense of quality, something that might be lacking in neighborhoods with mixed housing. Districts that are important to a community's history are more likely to be preserved and may represent a specific style or styles of architecture making it more attractive to some buyers. 

The report's conclusion notes that while the findings support a correlation between home prices and inclusion in a historic district, "there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that districting itself causes higher prices". However, there are some compelling reasons to believe that homes in historic districts will maintain value despite the restrictions that property owners in those district face. Based on this study, properties in historic districts have increased in price at a higher rate than properties not included in historic districts, therefore property value is more likely to appreciate in a historic district.

For information on the preservation and restoration of historic homes in New York, contact Scott Henson Architect.

Published in Landmarks Preservation

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.contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

The nature of a full-service architectural firm is that the firm makes it their purpose to serve and guide every client from the start of the architectural process to the final conclusion of the construction.

Within each phase of the architectural design process, including schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding, and contract administration, certain goals will need to be met in order to reach project completion. The innovative process takes place between the client and the architect, including the builders, engineers, and anyone else who has a part to play in the project being a success.

In order for this to be a dynamic process, there should be open communication and open feedback between all team members. There should also be technical and design experts who can contribute to the success of the project. In many ways, the role of an architect can be compared to a conductor because the architect is the one who ensures everything is in place in order to create a masterpiece.

As a full-service architectural firm, we are here to represent you in the process of design and construction:

  • We will help you make the right decisions and address any problems that may arise.
  • We will make routine inspections and be on site to observe the construction and design progress.
  • We will also answer any questions you or the contractor may have before, during, and after construction.

We want you to be able to navigate through the process of design and construction as easily as possible, and we believe that our full-service architectural firm has what it takes to repair, preserve, and restore your building.

Contact Scott Henson Architect for more information.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

Scott Henson Architect LLC is an award-winning architecture firmarchitecture firm with a diverse portfolio of work in and around New York City, and has developed a specialty in the repair, preservation, and restoration of buildings.

We are creative problem solvers dedicated to a hands-on approach that brings a passion for craftsmanship into all phases of our projects. We assist our clients in diagnosing and remedying the myriad of issues that can plague new and historic buildings alike. Through traditional construction methods and new construction technologies, we find solutions to immediate and long-term concerns of building maintenance and preservation. We work closely with our clients to investigate building conditions and to develop strategic, economically responsible recommendations for the repair of their buildings, and then implement the design and construction in an open, transparent line of communication.

Our approach to architecture is sensitive to the history of existing structures while pragmatic about their present needs to ensure that these buildings remain active contributors to our urban fabric. We approach each project, large or small, with the same level of care. Beginning with a careful investigation of the conditions unique to each project, we integrate our client’s budgetary, programmatic and aesthetic goals to design the optimal solution for each of our projects. Stone, brick and mortar, terra-cotta, wood, cast-iron, steel, sheet metal, waterproofing and roofing systems, windows, and vaults are few of the components we have in-depth knowledge and experience in specifying, detailing, and fabricating.

We view the re-purposing, rehabilitation, and restoration of existing buildings as one of the most effective tools for the sustainable stewardship of our environmental resources, including those resources that have already been expended in their construction.

We have extensive experience in the assessment, design and detailing of building exteriors including preparation of comprehensive conditions reports, construction documents and repair specifications, full and phased construction cost estimates, city agency filing, and contract procurement and administration.
Our firm is primarily functional in Manhattan, which has a healthy combination of architectural landmarks and new buildings that make up its skyline. We also have several projects in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

All things considered, this full-service architecture firm is an exceptional choice for your next building project.

Contact us here to get started.

Published in Restoration