Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The immigrant architects who built New York City

How immigrants shaped the city’s buildings and streetscape

Monday, February 26, 2018

Why SOM’s modernist Union Carbide building is worth saving

Renovation is always a better use of resources than demolition and replacement.


Friday, February 23, 2018

How bright are smart buildings?

While landlords like Rudin are implementing the tech, only about 20 percent of NYC office properties are built to sustain it.
By Konrad Putzier | February 22, 2018 02:50PM
Every time a tenant enters or exits a Rudin Management-owned property, the building notices. A sensor in a turnstile near the entrance sends a signal to the property’s operating system, dubbed Nantum. The system can sense sudden shifts in occupancy and quickly adjust its heating and air-conditioning depending on the season.

Rudin launched the independent tech startup Prescriptive Data — Nantum’s creator — in June 2016. The Manhattan-based company supplies Rudin’s buildings as well as properties owned by six other landlords with its technology. (A representative for Rudin declined to name the other landlords.)

The startup seems to be at the forefront of the smart building revolution underway in commercial real estate, including rental apartments.
For the full article, click here. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Somerville’s tallest building has started welcoming its first residents - Boston

Move-ins have started at Somerville’s tallest building: The 236-foot, 20-story Montaje in Assembly Row.

Developer Federal Realty commenced leasing those 447 apartments, including 26 penthouses, last summer; and also recently wrapped the building’s shared public spaces. Photos of those spaces are herein.
What’s more, the wider Assembly Row has added several retailers recently, including a Smoke Shop BBQ (currently under construction) and a Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store. And, in March, the 122-unit Alloy condo will open.
For the full story and pictures click here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

East Chelsea, Manhattan: Once Industrial, Now Residential

When Sally Greenspan moved into a converted notions factory on West 20th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues 35 years ago, the area was industrial, she recalled, with few shops, restaurants or other residential amenities.

“It was like the Wild West,” said Ms. Greenspan, 71, a retired marketing executive who came from the Upper East Side with her husband, Michael, a biochemist who wanted a quicker commute to his job in New Jersey.
The area, which is often called East Chelsea — it extends from West 14th to West 30th Streets and from Sixth Avenue to Ninth Avenue, where West Chelsea begins — started becoming residential about 20 years ago. But change has been more rapid, she said, in the past several years: “We’ve seen an enormous number of young families move in. It’s been an explosion.”
Older buildings have been converted to apartments, and the remaining open spaces — many of them former parking lots — have been filled in with new construction. “It’s now a destination area,” she said, “with hot restaurants and hot bars.”
For the full article, click here

Monday, February 12, 2018

City wants to cut down supertalls

Agencies look to stop builders from using stilts to jack up heights—and prices

The de Blasio administration is taking aim at developers’ practice of stacking luxury condos atop multistory hollow spaces to achieve greater heights and more lucrative sales.
Marisa Lago, chairwoman of the City Planning Commission, said at a town hall meeting last month that her office is working to change how it treats such large voids, which do not count against a building's density limit. Limiting their size could shrink the height of future towers.
“The notion that there are empty spaces for the sole purpose of making the building taller for the views at the top is not what was intended” by the zoning code, she said. “We are already working under the mayor’s direction with the Department of Buildings to see how we can make sure that the intent of the rules is followed.”
For the full article, click here

Friday, February 9, 2018

Flights of Fancy and Function


Mariele Marki lives on the fifth floor of House 39, a new rental building on East 39th Street in Manhattan that is awash in indulgent amenities. The apartment building also has a perfectly nice elevator that stops on all 36 floors. But after walking her dog, Ms. Marki, a marketing consultant who is 26, often takes the stairs to her apartment — starting with the sculptural staircase that spirals up the double-height lobby to the second floor, where she can grab a coffee from the lounge before continuing up on the fire stairs.

“Every little bit helps keep you a little more fit,” she said. Hammams and wine cellars top many amenity lists for new developments, but staircases? In upscale buildings that go all out to pamper residents, a feature that requires exertion might seem counterintuitive. But over a century and a half after the modern elevator was invented, many developers, architects and designers are bringing staircases to the fore, to add drama, evoke a bygone era, and activate common areas — or activate residents themselves.

And developers are going to considerable lengths to do so. House 39’s spiral, for instance, is 17½-feet tall, and the Canadian company that manufactured it had to trench the floor of its factory to accommodate the height. Rockwell Group, designer of the building’s interiors, took inspiration for the form from House 39’s curved glass facade, and specified a curved glass balustrade. David Rockwell, the firm’s founder — and a self-avowed “stair fan” — is particularly enamored of the staircase’s mirror-polished bronze underside, which reflects movement and contributes to what he described as the lobby’s dynamism. 

Winston Fisher, a partner in Fisher Brothers, the building’s developer, said the cost for the set of the steps — about $1 million — was worth it. “We wanted something cool and artistic and stylish and memorable,” he said.

For the full #NYTimes article click here. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

NY’s public building costs are the most expensive in the world

New York’s public building costs are the most expensive in the world partly because taxpayers are subsidizing skyrocketing pension and health care costs for the construction industry, according to a study released on Monday.

State and local governments paid double the 17 percent inflation rate to cover “prevailing wage” costs for union construction workers on public works projects from 2007 to 2017, said the report by the Empire Center for Public Policy.
A lot of those funds covered fringe benefits, which zoomed even for laborers — the building trades’ lowest- paid workers — from $22.74 to $40.60 an hour.
By comparison, wages for those same workers jumped from $34.89 to only $41.50 an hour.
In New York, fringe benefit costs now account for 41 percent of prevailing wage compensation, double the 20 percent for all private construction workers, the study said, citing U.S. Labor Department data.
“The law effectively provides a taxpayer bailout of under-funded union pension and retiree health care plans,” said Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon.
“The law drives up building construction costs by at least 13 to 25 percent….the actual payments for fringe benefits alone have translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in added taxpayer cost.”
For the full story, click here

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How to earn an A for your building

Make the grade energy-efficiency without breaking the bank

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Building Materials Of The Future Are . . . Old Buildings

Every year, more than 530 million tons of construction and demolition waste like timber, concrete, and asphalt end up in landfills in the U.S.–about double the amount of waste picked up by garbage trucks every year from homes, businesses, and institutions. But what if all of the material used in buildings and other structures could be recycled into a new type of construction material?
That’s what the Cleveland-based architecture firm Redhouse Studio is trying to do. The firm, led by architect Christopher Maurer, has developed a biological process to turn wood scraps and other kinds of construction waste like sheathing, flooring, and organic insulation into a new, brick-like building material.
Maurer wants to use the waste materials from the thousands of homes in Cleveland that have been demolished over the last decade or so as a source to create this new biomaterial. Now, the firm has launched a Kickstarter to transform an old shipping container into a mobile lab called the Biocycler, which Maurer and his team can drive to these demolished homes and begin the process of turning their waste into materials to build new walls.
If the project is funded, Maurer hopes to use the lab to build an agricultural building for the nonprofit Refugee Response, which puts refugees in the Cleveland area to work on an urban farm.
The biological process entails using the binding properties of the organisms that create mushrooms, called mycelium. Once the waste is combined with the mycelium, it is put into brick-shaped forms, where it stews for days or weeks, depending on how much mycelium is added. When bound together into biomaterial, the material has the consistency of rigid insulation. Then the team compacts them to make them sturdy enough to be used as a structural material.
The building for Refugee Response will act as a proof of concept, as Maurer hopes to eventually be able to help people in disaster-stricken areas using the technique. An added bonus? When allowed to grow, the mycelium will flower and mushrooms will sprout, creating a source of food that could also be helpful for humanitarian reasons.
Maurer has experimented with mycelium for years–and he isn’t alone, as startups and architects alike are also focusing on the stuff. He admits that it is a somewhat magical process: After turning an organic material like wood chips into sawdust and pasteurizing it to remove any organisms, a small amount of mycelium is added. Without any other life to challenge it, the mycelium grows like crazy. It secretes enzymes that dissolve the cellulose in the wood and replaces the cellulose with its own organisms, which are full of chitin–a material found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans and shells that happens to be the strongest natural polymer that exists. “The composite of the woody and polymetric mass is great building material–strong and rigid but also flexible, based on how much you compact it,” Maurer says.
For the full article, click here

Friday, February 2, 2018

Former Globe building envisioned as ‘innovation park’ with food hall, co-working space

Part of the old Boston Globe building is set to get a dramatic upgrade as a swanky food hall and hangout space, the centerpiece of an overhaul of the newspaper’s former headquarters in Dorchester into a hub of creative and tech offices.

That’s the vision the development firm Nordblom shared when it filed detailed plans Tuesday to redevelop the massive complex on Morrissey Boulevard. The company wants to repurpose the nearly 700,000-square-foot building as a “multi-tenant innovation park,” aimed at companies that want to be close to the core of the city but don’t want to pay downtown rents.
Ultimately, the developer envisions a mix of companies big and small, and thousands of jobs, in a building that has sat empty since the Globe moved downtown last year.
Read more here