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State Grants Help Revitalize, Redesign Local Communities


2018 Design Awards Information


Jamaica El-Space


Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program

A few weeks ago at the AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference, I happened to overhear an observation by a member who had attended this event for the past several years. She looked out at the crowd and stated, “This is certainly a different landscape of individuals than when I first started attending.” I started thinking about her comment, and did a bit of internal reflection myself. I thought about my own experiences, and that now more than ever, there is so much more to being “a great architect.” We have a critical obligation to our profession to mentor, coach, and most importantly lead within and without.

and especially leadership development. We particularly heard about the leadership development gap that can exist during the period of time from college graduation to licensure. There were examples shared of varying degrees of professional opportunities that fostered the experience necessary to successfully manage a project, and additional skill sets to overcome the economic development challenges architects are facing (some examples are highlighted in the articles included in this newsletter). People are a firm’s most valuable asset; it is essential that the time is devoted to train and mentor staff at all levels.

The good news is that while there is still room for continuing development, the latest data from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) reinforces that gender, racial, and ethnic diversity is improving. However, while diversity has strengthened in early career stages, more effort is needed to ensure that it progresses at all levels.

What do you see when you explore the daily responsibilities of running a practice and recognize some of the challenges that we collectively face? We exist in a collaborative environment where internal teams include a variety of generations and character preferences as well as equally diverse external teams that include clients, sub-consultants, contractors and government agencies, amongst others. The common theme for leadership success most importantly resides with emotional intelligence (EQ): self-awareness and awareness of others, recognizing/understanding the impact you have on others, and recognizing the value of other individual’s knowledge in addition to yours. Combine these with technical knowledge and business acumen and you have the ingredients for effective leadership agility that in time will accelerate your practice, encourage others to learn and grow, and quench the thirst of the inheritors of the future of architecture.

“Every person is the architect of their own character. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do, is who you become.” -Author Unknown

At a recent AIA New York State Emerging Professionals Summit, we talked about how emerging professionals are thirsty for knowledge, guidance towards licensure and career growth, opportunities for community outreach,

Kirk Narburgh, AIA 2018 President AIA New York State

>> Front cover photo: Restored Marriott Syracuse Downtown in 2017 >> Edited by Carla Schlist



STATE GRANTS HELP REVITALIZE, REDESIGN LOCAL COMMUNITIES By Roger Marquis | Client Relations and Business Development Director | Spacesmith

“The residents of Middletown can’t wait to have a new city.” -Mayor Joseph DeStefano

>> New and much needed development work is being done in Middletown, NY as a result of winning a $10 million grant through the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Since 2016, the DRI has awarded $10 million to 10 cities, one from each of the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs), as a means to spur economic development for those municipalities and their surrounding areas. A secondary goal which is not readily publicized, is for the DRI to act as a catalyst for private projects and investments. With Middletown as an example, an additional $20 million in private projects were identified and selected in conjunction with the DRIspecific work. The projects proposed for DRI grants and the chance to win $10 million in funding have hinged on valuable input from architects and other experts, as the multi-round application process is rigorous and focused on selecting proposals that offer cost-effective projects delivering the greatest value to their local communities.

From one city to another, the range of projects proposed have included the revitalization, reuse and modernization of historic buildings and public spaces as well as existing cultural, social and recreational assets. Rick Rector, Mayor of Hudson, said, “The DRI program is a fabulous stimulus for continued rehabilitation of our city, especially as it relates to infrastructure. We have proposed a major pedestrian/vehicular traffic circulation and connectivity project, and if this comes to fruition it will greatly aid in safety and accessibility to the waterfront area from the downtown.” The local team in Oneonta plans to renovate a municipal parking garage and add a new transit facility (see center image). And in lakeside Oswego, a multibuilding, mixed-use commercial and residential project is underway to replace existing downtown buildings and activate a currently vacant lot. With $10 million being a considerable amount for New York State’s smaller cities – in addition to potential additional private funding that some DRI recipients have announced – many of the municipalities have focused on maximizing the benefits of their outlays. >> continued on next page

>> Proposed Downtown Marina, City of Geneva, DRI Grant Winner – Round 1


Creative and cost-effective ideas from the state’s architects and allied professionals are critical to the best DRI plans. Experience in constructability, sustainability and urban design best practices are just a few ways that architects can greatly assist in realizing the goals of these growing cities. In speaking with local officials like Mayors DeStefano and Rector, one can sense how meaningful these projects are to local leaders and residents alike. One also hears genuine appreciation for the professionals helping to draft and design the work to be done.

>> Renovation of Existing Parking Garage and Proposed Transit Hub, City of Oneonta, DRI Grant Winner – Round 1



• • • • •

• • • • •

Middletown Glen Falls Oswego Geneva Westbury

• • • • •

Oneonta Jamaica Plattsburgh Elmira Jamestown

Hudson Cortland Batavia Hicksville Kingston

• • • • •

Rome The Bronx Watertown Watkins Glen Olean 

As Spacesmith has spoken with people involved in the DRI from various cities and organizations, it has become clear that the vast majority are positive on the program and see it as a very well-organized process. Some wish they could reapply for subsequent rounds of funding. Perhaps the state should look to expand this type of publicprivate program, as all related parties seem to benefit.

>> Proposed Preservation of Historic Building, City of Olean, DRI Grant Winner – Round 2



Submissions Open April 3rd! RESIDENTIAL • Single Family Detached, less than 2,500 square feet • Single Family Detached, 2,500 square feet and over • Multi Family, Multiple Dwellings INSTITUTIONAL COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL • Small Projects, less than 5,000 square feet • Large Projects, greater than 5,000 square feet URBAN PLANNING/DESIGN ADAPTIVE REUSE/HISTORIC PRESERVATION (COMBINED CATEGORY) INTERIORS UNBUILT • Commissioned architectural design work by practicing emerging architects licensed 10 years or less, not yet built • Complete commissioned architectural design work, not yet built or completed by all other architects INTERNATIONAL PRO BONO PROJECTS • A project for which those licensed architect(s) involved received no financial compensation SOLE PRACTITIONER • Projects submitted from firms having only one architects, and no other professional staff.


JAMAICA EL - SPACE By Willy Zambrano, AIA LEED AP | Design Principal / Founder and Daniel Barrenechea, Assoc AIA | Design Principal | Zambrano Architectural Design

“Design for the public realm should be at the forefront of every burgeoning emerging urban environment development.” >> Since the inception of the Long Island Rail Road system in 1836, Jamaica, Queens has been a major transportation hub for the New York City region. While its role has fluctuated over the years, it is in the public metropolitan transportation arena that we find it as relevant today as it was in the late 19th Century. Except for King Rufus Park—home of the King Manor Museum— there has not been any significant urban interventions for the creation of public space in the Downtown Jamaica area. The Jamaica El-Space project envisions a public space by reclaiming an underused parcel of Archer Avenue, between 150th Street and 153rd Street, transforming it into a dedicated pedestrian venue via new public corridors and newly illuminated tunnels, parks, educational institutions and public transportation stations. The site is currently dedicated to NYC’s Department of Transportation employee parking and bus stops for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The proximity of major civic institutions, the CUNY campus of York College, a Mega-Transportation hub and numerous federal buildings make Downtown Jamaica a natural venue for the creation of quality pubic space.

As the largest residential, institutional, commercial and business community in south Queens, Downtown Jamaica has enjoyed substantial emerging development initiatives, and the current demographics and statistical data justify the efforts. Weekly ridership of more than 42,000 commuters at the Jamaica subway station, over 254,000 weekly bus riders, 11,000 average riders of the Air Train system in conjunction to at least 98,000 LIRR users provide an average or 434,000 weekly riders passing through the Jamaica Center hub. The neighborhood has evolved from its origins as rural areas and farmland to include single and multi-family residential developments, institutional, commercial and industrial zones. Downtown Jamaica is currently undergoing a development renaissance that includes a mixeduse development of BRP Companies ‘The Crossing at Jamaica Station’ with anchor retail and residential apartments; numerous hotel developments including Marriot Courtyard, Hilton Garden Inn, Aloft Elements Hotel and Wyndham Garden Hotel, and additional planned developments. In all, projects underway will provide approximately 3,000 new housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail space, and 800 hotel rooms. >> continued on next page

>> Archer Avenue-After View-Jamaica el-Space


No significant public use project has been developed in the Downtown Jamaica area since the late 80’s, where the E and J subway lines added the Archer Avenue terminal, linking LIRR riders and Queens bus lines. Eventually, the renovation of the LIRR Jamaica Terminal and the Air Train JFK Terminal, as Port Authority developments, cemented the region as a major metropolitan transportation nexus, linking subways, buses, trains and planes into the closest thing resembling a seamless network for commuters. However, this transportation hub has not transformed its users and riders into visitors to the area, promoted the emergence entertainment venues, or created new spaces for the public realm. While many theories attempt to explain why such a central transportation arena failed to transform itself into a prominent public venue, our study focuses on what is possible to create, based on existing conditions and creative use of available components. The Jamaica ElSpace Initiative is a vision for the possible scenario of such a public space. A design guideline that can address this current need of urban living and gathering space, beyond the mere transportation necessities. If implemented, its inception could become the seed required to inject into

>> 151st Street- Before

future developments the gravitas required to convince Downtown Jamaica stakeholders that the public space is more than a glorified amenity, it is a public right. Spaces for public use and gathering are extensions of our private dwelling into the shared public experience, open to all; necessary for a healthy and well-rounded urban experience. If considering the current and future commercial developments targeted for the downtown area, the natural next step for transforming ‘Jamaica the Transit Hub’ into ‘Jamaica as Public Destination’ should be the inclusion of destinations and venues for the public use. The Jamaica El-Space plan aims, in the jargon of real state, to create “location” within its site. Surrounded by institutional buildings, parking spaces, elevated train tracks, high concrete walls and pedestrian and vehicular tunnels, the new public space rises among this hostile infrastructure to create a memorable network of public spaces that will provide identity to the transforming surrounding neighborhood. This, in turn, will create added value in an area known for parking lots, vehicular traffic, and concrete walls that inhibit pedestrian activity. By extending the limited paved and pedestrian areas to the >> 151st Street- After


>> continued on next page

>> Towards Archer Avenue and New Public Park

edges of Archer Avenue, a new public room is created. While this new area will exist over subway tunnels and platforms, limiting expanding grassy areas, the use of masonry paved areas, elevated landscaped plinths and planters in combination with new seating areas, strategic lighting, architectural follies, Supergraphics, illuminated digital billboards and wayfinding systems will activate this park into a flexible venue. Long Island Railroad concrete walls will become art murals, inviting local artist to assist in establishing a seasonal arts program to transform these omnipresent walls into art galleries. The space itself will be friendly to food trucks and street vendors, while allowing green markets to occupy these spaces on pre-arranged days of the week, to add healthy natural alternatives to existing fast food venues. While this design intervention could become a transforming force in the district, we see the opportunity to go beyond. Three cross streets, linking Archer Avenue and Jamaica Avenue (the prominent commercial corridor in the area) can become major public corridors, extending this new public park into Jamaica Avenue and King Rufus Park. 150th and 153rd Streets are already prominent public corridors that can be enhanced to connect new park and existing park. Our study proposes the direct and central axis connection of Jamaica El-Space with Rufus King Park via the unused 151st Street. In its current use, this street has been relegated to convenience parking spaces for the NYPD and the Queens County Family Court. Reclaiming this corridor to transform it into a covered, vehicle free, public gallery, will create a retail friendly public arcade with enough flexible seating areas, gathering spaces, public performance zones, all under the umbrella of a new glass roof and public gantries, reminiscent of the

transportation spirit of the place. These architectural amenities will become structures dedicated for lighting positions, speakers and wayfinding graphics. This new corridor will be a flexible, transforming venue, ready to become space for impromptu street concerts and performances, fashion catwalk for local designers and fashion galleries, but most of all, a space for the public use. Architecturally, all components and built follies will share the common language of the industrial transportation infrastructure: metal towers, gantries, bridges and signage will become graphic signage icons, performance prosceniums, community announcement signage and commercial branding opportunities. Billboards will become double sided digital screens, able to display featured and commercial content to the casual pedestrian and to the LIRR rider, as they arrive to the Jamaica Station. The use of infrastructure components such as, concrete tubes, ductile iron pipes, gabions and shipping containers will contribute to a common feature language and economy of building materials, simply by providing new uses to common construction materials and components. Design for the public realm should be at the forefront of every burgeoning emerging urban environment development. All stakeholders, from the public to the private will benefit from the creation of a Master Plan that provides guidelines for the creation of public spaces. Downtown Jamaica is in the unique position of harnessing all its existing public infrastructure and services, combining them with present and future developments, and creating unique solutions to the maladies of most urban scenarios. >> continued on next page




MAY 1, 2018



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COMPONENTS USED IN THIS PROJECT Lighting Strategy Current existing street lighting on Archer Avenue does not offer an inviting environment. Several blocks of Archer Avenue are dedicated to MTA bus stations, subway entries and LIRR and the Air Train to JFK Airport. The improvement of street illumination for ambience, task and feature lighting such as, light posts, light bollards, strategic artistic lighting and billboards can have a transforming effect for the urban street life. These basic features in combination to temporary lighting installations, retail storefront lighting display and pedestrian/vehicle tunnel illumination strategies will contribute not only to an enhanced urban environment, but to added sense of safety of the neighborhood.

Activating Public Spaces Our design strategy proposes reclaiming existing spaces currently dedicated to vehicular use and parking for pedestrian’s use including new and extended paved areas, friendly street crossing and intersections, street furniture, environmental graphics, wayfinding systems and artistic installations. Archer Avenue will become a reinvigorated public space for the community, its users and the more than 400,000 weekly commuters passing by Downtown Jamaica.

Creating Visual Events Created in 1985, MTA Arts & Design, formerly Arts for Transit and Urban Design houses several groundbreaking art installations as a result of this program. Since 1982, New York City’s Percent for Art law requires that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects is spent on public artwork. The inclusion of public art and site-specific amenities with the rich history of Jamaica as a transportation hub, buses, trains and subway cars can be transformed into artistic interventions at pedestrian level, street walls and rooftops. These commissioned artworks can become visual events, if strategically paired with the participation of the private sector, as branding opportunities, sharing the financial burden of artworks from City and State. Pedestrian Corridors Walkable spaces where public amenities such as seating, good lighting and greenery provide a pleasant walk. Storefront shops and commerce will add destinations and extended hours use to these amenities.


Bicycle Connections Making it easier for cyclists to travel and reach their destinations by providing them with the security and space. Connecting Jamaica to the Queens Boulevard bike paths and to Flushing. Possibly creating the ability to, for the first time, connect biking from Jamaica to Midtown Manhattan in thirty minutes via the Queens Borough Bridge.

Ungated Parks Rufus King Park is the prominent green area of Downtown Jamaica. But currently, it is a gated park that while open to the public, provides the impression of being a restricted private park. Our design proposes to remove gates and reimagine Rufus King Park as inviting venue, open to public use where pedestrians could rest, take a lunch break and interact with the environment, thus reclaiming parks for the community and visitors.

Tunnel as Light Interventions Eliminating dark tunnels and alleys to enhance pedestrian safety and experience. Create an inviting connect underneath the underpass. Then experience can be flexible and transforming with current available lighting technology, in addition to revenue opportunities for branding.




>> The Hotel Syracuse, designed by George B. Post & Sons and opened in 1924, had been vacant for a number of years when it came to my attention in 2010. Like most local residents, I had fond memories of this Grand Lady and was concerned to learn of its deteriorated condition. With the assistance of the City of Syracuse, which took the property via an action related to back taxes, our investment group, Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Company, LLC, acquired the hotel and proceeded with the renovation planning. An investment of close to $70 million enabled my team to restore it to its former glory. Essential to the success of the project were the federal and state historic preservation tax credit programs, without which the project would not have been financially feasible. Owners of historic commercial properties would be well advised to consider this valuable method of supporting restoration projects with supplemental funds by taking

advantage of these two tax credit programs. The federal program is administered by the National Park Service together with the Internal Revenue Service. The State of New York administers the other tax credit program, through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The federal program amounts to tax credits equivalent to 20% of the renovation construction costs of an historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is covered in detail on the National Park Service website. The essentials of this program include an application in three parts. Parts 1 and 2 must be completed and approved prior to the start of construction. The key to the success of this process involves the consultations with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service with respect to the proposed scopes of work that are written into the Part 2. Part 3 is submitted after the completion of the project. >> continued on next page

>> Former Sears warehouse conversion using tax credit programs and renovated into mixed use now called ‘538 EBW’.


A number of other important renovation projects in downtown Syracuse, completed or underway, have utilized these tax credit programs, including the stage expansion of the Landmark Theater, the conversion of the old Sears warehouse at 538 Erie Boulevard West (apartments and office space), the restoration and addition at 900 E. Fayette St. (apartments and retail), and the renovations to the State Tower Building (retail, office and residential). All told, about $150 million investment in downtown buildings inclusive of the Hotel Syracuse is launching a wave of revitalization. With the assistance of New York City-based MLG Architects, led by Mario LaGuardia, we completed the overall master planning and code compliance strategy for the project. MLG then proceeded to oversee the renovation of all of the non-historic spaces, including a conference center wing meeting the requirements of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), an eleventh floor bridal suite and fitness center. Most importantly, they directed the gut rehabilitation of all of the guest room floors, transforming 590 existing, undersized guest rooms into 265 spacious, four-star guest rooms and suites with contemporary finishes and modern amenities. Complementing MLG’s scope, Holmes • King • Kallquist & Associates, Architects, based in Syracuse, was engaged to provide architectural services relating to all of the historic components of the building’s restoration. This included establishing the overall preservation strategy, and the restoration of the exterior and all historic interior spaces. In addition, they coordinated the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Certification and all aspects of zoning compliance. Exterior restoration included parapet reconstruction; patching, replacement and cleaning of brick masonry, decorative cast stone and terra cotta components; restoration and recreation of historic window systems; replication of ground floor storefront systems, historic marquees and signage; and the replacement of all roofing systems.

>> Renovated Chimes Building in Syracuse

The interior restoration included all historic spaces on the ground floor, lobby, mezzanine, guest room floor corridors, and the tenth floor ballroom level. Historic elevator cab interiors, main reception desk, original millwork, decorative cast plaster and polychromatic painted wall and ceiling finishes, and numerous other original architectural components were recreated. In addition, Holmes • King • Kallquist was responsible for the design of all of the new restaurants and bars included in the historic interior spaces. >> continued on next page

“While our Hotel Syracuse restoration project was underway there was a ripple effect with the renovation of buildings in the surrounding downtown neighborhood…” HISTORIC PRESERVATION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM


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Please contact Robin Styles-Lopez at rstyles-lopez@aianys.org if you’re interested in submitting an article 2018 | VOLUME ONE

The renovated Hotel Syracuse reopened as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown with a gala celebration in June of 2016, featuring events throughout the restored hotel. Since opening, the Community has demonstrated its enthusiasm with incredible support by its attendance at regularly scheduled events. The County of Onondaga designated the hotel as the Headquarters Hotel for Convention Center, adding what had been the missing link to their convention and tourism operations. Touring groups, dinners, conferences, weddings and other celebrations have since flowed through the doors of this grand hotel in the heart of our city, confirming our collective investment and intuition that this was the right choice and the right project for the community. Since the hotel has opened, we have seen a wave of new investment in the surrounding blocks. Renovation projects have appeared throughout the hotel’s immediate neighborhood, reflecting a revitalization that the city had not seen in decades. Directly across E. Onondaga Street, the former Hilton Hotel tower is now being reimagined as a 120-room extended-stay Hyatt Hotel. And the former skybridge, connecting the two hotels since the 1980’s, has been demolished, resulting in the restoration of the Hotel’s original entrance. We have seen renovation projects across Salina Street from the Hyatt at 472 S. Salina with an investment of $10 million for 51 new apartments and retail space on the ground floor which opened in 2017. That project is the renovation of the ‘Empire Building’ with an additional 23 apartments soon to be completed and is also using the state and federal tax credit programs. Also within the last two years the complete renovation of the Chimes Building at 500 S. Salina Street has new apartments on the upper floors which feed the new demand for downtown residential units. While our Hotel Syracuse restoration project was underway there was a ripple effect with the renovation of buildings in the surrounding downtown neighborhood which demonstrates the efficacy of these tax credit programs and the value of these investments in revitalizing our cities. The Hotel Syracuse project is a prime example of both of these.

>> Restored Marriott Syracuse Downtown in 2017, aka Hotel Syracuse HISTORIC PRESERVATION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM




Profile for American Institute of Architects New York State

AIANYS Quarterly: Economic Development (Issue 2018: Vol. 1)  

AIANYS Quarterly: Economic Development (Issue 2018: Vol. 1)  

Profile for aianys