Thursday, September 21, 2017

Council committee unanimously approves contentious construction safety bill

By Kathryn Brenzel | September 20, 2017 03:40PM
The City Council committee on housing and building on Wednesday unanimously voted in favor of a construction safety bill that will mandate at least 40 hours of safety training for workers.

The latest version of the bill, introduced Tuesday night, requires workers to complete a 40-hour training course by December 2018 — or September 2020, if the Department of Buildings determines that there aren’t enough training facilities available for workers to meet that deadline. By March 2018, workers have to complete the equivalent of OSHA 10, a 10-hour course sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration. Workers will then complete an additional 30 hours of training, and then the DOB will determine an addition 10 to 25 hours. At least eight of those hours will pertain to the dangers of falling workers and objects at construction sites, according to the bill.
The hearing room at 250 Broadway was packed with people, many wearing shirts that said, “Don’t Take Our Jobs Stop 1447.” The phrase is one employed by Putting New Yorkers to Work, a group backed by the Real Estate Board of New York and other organizations. Leading up to the hearing, a few people voiced aggravation over the fact that a new version of the bill was posted Tuesday night and that the committee hearing was scheduled at the last minute.
“We were blindsided,” said Martin Allen, president of People for Political and Economic Empowerment. He said the bill will favor large corporations, since they have the deep pockets to pay for workers to complete the training.
Open shop groups and REBNY have fought against the three different iterations of the bill, which they’ve argued disproportionately favor union contractors and would harm minority workers.
REBNY president John Banks said the latest bill was an improvement but failed to address “basic questions like ensuring there will be sufficient training providers or how workers without an on-going relationship with a contractor will pay for and obtain training.”
“This legislation runs the risk of putting tens of thousands of construction workers on the unemployment line,” he said.
Outside the City Council building, workers passed out flyers urging the passage of the bill. The flyer had a picture of Fernando Venegas, a 19-year-old worker who died at a construction site in Bed-Stuy in 2015.
Council member Robert Cornegy voiced concern about the fast pace of the legislation and the fact that many of the construction deaths over the last several years were minority workers. He urged the City Council to take a close look at how minority workers will be impacted by the legislation. Still, he voted in favor of the bill.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.
Council member Jumaane Williams said the latest version of the legislation reflected concerns from union and nonunion groups. As part of the bill, the City Council will dedicate $5 million to the city and community groups to contribute to the training efforts.
Article courtesy of The Real Deal.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Monday, September 18, 2017

MetLife building gets an electronic face-lift

The former Pan Am Building is swapping neon lights with LEDs

The tower at 200 Park Ave. is getting a face-lift. MetLife is replacing the neon sign that has topped its headquarters since 1993, swapping in LED lights and a new typeface with narrower letters for a more “modern” look.

The former Pan Am Building was the tallest commercial tower in the city when it was completed in 1963, but it was derided by architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable as a “colossal collection of minimums.” The company in 2005 sold the building for $1.7 billion to a joint venture of Tishman Speyer, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Retirement System. But the 59-story tower remains MetLife’s headquarters and is now worth $3 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The new sign comes a year after MetLife dropped Snoopy and the other Peanuts characters it had long used to advertise. While the company repositions its public image, behind the scenes it is sparring with the federal government, which in 2014 deemed it “too big to fail” and thus subject to tighter regulation. The insurer is fighting that designation in court.
For full article, click here

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cornell built a super-high-tech school in New York City that could revolutionize building design — take a look

Nestled between Manhattan and Queens on New York's Roosevelt Island, a new approach to building design has come to life.
Cornell Tech, a two-million-square foot campus aimed at serving students studying computer science, business, and entrepreneurship, is open for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The buildings will remain in construction until approximately 2043, at which point some 2,000 students and hundreds of faculty and staff will live in energy-efficient buildings designed to heat and cool their inhabitants naturally.
Here's what the school is like up close.

The building is the largest energy-efficient dorm in the world. 
The interior walls are covered in tape-sealed "jackets" that prevent outside air from coming in. Each window has triple-pane glass that was assembled in Italy and shipped to New York.
Pipes run around the ceiling, continuously emitting heat or AC into the room. Unlike traditional central heating and AC systems, which shut on and off to adjust the temperature, the pipes keep the inside temperature consistent and adjust in real time to save energy.
For all the images click here

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Here are N.Y.C.'s worst buildings (based on housing code violations)

Recall the proclamation made by 2009's most charismatic N.Y.C. mayoral candidate, Jimmy McMillan. "The rent is too damn high," he declared.

He was right, considering the average New Yorker spends $4,109 monthly for a Manhattan rental, according to a recent report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
What those fancy brokerage firms don't tell you is just how bad some of the buildings are — and where.

Consider the ingenuity of The local startup devised a map of the buildings with the most outstanding HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development) violations.

The non-profit organization helps renters take advantage of the housing codes of New York City and allows its users to take photos of whatever problem they come across in the building and lodge complaints.

Whether it's rats, mold or cockroaches, has it reported. The app, funded by the Robin Hood Foundation and the Fast Forward Accelerator (an accelerator for tech nonprofits), is essentially a way to pool together evidence of just how shoddy your living situation is.

It also allows users the opportunity to communicate with landlords directly via texts, emails, and letters of complaint. The reports and case histories are also automatically logged and sent to city and state agencies. That way, in case the problems ever amount to a court case, the lawyer or advocate can pull documents from the app's system.

The app first became available to all New York City residents last November with a network of over a dozen community partners and organizers. For a ranked data set of the buildings and their violations, see the chart below.

For the full list, click here

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Safest Building In New York City

During an emergency, it’s imperative that 911 dispatchers swiftly answer calls. So when New York City’s emergency command center in one of the World Trade Center buildings collapsed as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, lawmakers assessed how they could make the system more resilient in the face of disaster. Enter the Public Safety Answering Center II, the city’s newest emergency call center and what’s perhaps the strongest and safest building in all five New York City boroughs.
Completed in summer 2016 and designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the call center was engineered to be virtually impenetrable. Located in the Bronx, it’s in a far-flung part of the city far away from terrorism targets. The structure is meant to be bulletproof, blast-proof, toxic gas-proof (aka air-tight), tamper-proof, and flood-proof. It has enough water, generator power, and food on hand for the 400 or so people who work there to be self-sufficient for at least three days. But on the outside, you could never tell that it’s essentially a fortress. If the apocalypse comes, this is where you’d want to hole up.
Through a series of slick design moves, the architects managed to disguise the defensive details that make the PSAC II one of the most resilient buildings in the city. A grass-covered berm surrounding the building is actually an anti-ram device. Security to enter the building is located in a glass pavilion separated from the main structure by blast doors–heavy duty doors that resist explosions. In a similar vein, the loading dock is also separate from the building. The concrete walls are 14 inches thick and the few windows that the building has are six inches thick, which makes it harder for explosives or bullets to penetrate the facade. All of the electrical and ventilation machinery is located on higher floors so that flooding won’t knock the systems out. But the outside is rendered in a pleated aluminum skin–almost like a shimmering sculpture.
“It evolved out of an idea of camouflage,” says architect Gary Haney, who borrowed security techniques he used in designing embassies, courthouses, and data centers. “All of this came together in an effective design technique that also disguises the size and blankness of the building.”
Because the building’s employees work 12-hour shifts and can’t leave during their breaks, the architects tried to make the interior as comfortable as possible. There’s warm wood, natural light, lounge space, and even a living wall–designed by SOM’s Center for Architecture Science & Ecology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute–that purifies air. The call center itself is one large open space that looks a lot like a Wall Street trading floor, Haney tells me. (The building is so secure that SOM wasn’t able to release photographs of the call center or share precise details about how the interior is organized.) The other floors include a cafeteria, gym, offices, a training center, and conference rooms.
While no detail was overlooked in making sure the PSAC II could operate through every type of large-scale emergency, it’s not emblematic of most 911 call centers. The state of emergency call centers across the country is precarious, as they are largely underfunded, understaffed, and their location tracking technology isn’t up to date.
In the 2000s, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to improve New York’s outdated emergency call system with a $1.3 billion improvement plan. It ballooned to $2.2 billion and was 10 years late as a result of mismanagement according to a report from the city’s Department of Investigation. The price tag for the building? A whopping $880 million–about the same price as the Mets’ baseball stadium.
“I don’t know if it’s cost-effective for everybody, but certainly given the level of attention paid from the city’s government, the city feels this was worth it to them relative to their vulnerability,” Haney says. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Sleeping Giant Of New York's Lab Market Could Be About To Wake Up

Across most sectors of commercial real estate in New York City, be it offices, apartments and condos, retail spaces or hotels, landlords are grappling with a citywide supply influx, one that is pushing down asking prices and pushing up concessions. Yet, there is one sector that is 100% occupied, commands high rents and has startlingly low supply. NYU Langone Health An NYU Langone Health laboratory facility In New York City, finding a place for a research laboratory is not like finding a needle in a haystack.

The city has about 1.7M SF of life science lab space, a tiny chunk of its 450M SF office supply. Those labs are 100% occupied, according to Transwestern, and the active pipeline is thin. "This has historically has been one of the most supply-constrained markets in New York City," Transwestern Research Manager Danny Mangru said. "New York City possesses all the necessary pieces for the life science industry. 

All it's missing is the supply." An asset class with 100% occupancy that lends itself to high rent and high-paying jobs may seem like a no-brainer for a developer to build. But there are just two developments in Manhattan that include labs in the plans: Alexandria Real Estate's Alexandria Center for Life Science campus along FDR Drive and Taconic Investment Partners and Silverstein Properties' conversion of the Movie Lab building at 619 West 54th St. to the Hudson Research Center, which will bring 150K SF of labs to the market. 

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