ARCHITECTURE New York State | Q3 | September '22

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In response to this being National Preparedness Month, the September issue focuses on “Climate Action.” With New York State’s hope to generate 70 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and reduce emissions by 85 percent by 2050, architects and design professionals share articles on projects and processes that are contributing towards achieving these goals.


Contents President’s Letter 4 Executive Vice President’s Letter 5


The Key is Changing Our Process 6


Constructing a Resilient Future for New York State’s Buildings 12


Advancing Clean and Resilient Buildings and Carbon Neutrality Across New York State 16


Design Possibilities of Passive House 20


Check in at the Hotel Marcel: A Net Zero, Ultra-Efficient Retrofit Hotel 26


Finding New Life & Purpose for a Vacant Minor League Baseball Stadium 30


Timber House at 670 Union Street 36


Adapting to Climate Change @ Battery Park City 40


The David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center at Pocantico: Transforming a Historic Orangerie into a Net-Zero Creative Arts Center 44


PRESIDENT’S LETTER Whether you are watching the news on television or scanning your favorite social media channels, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of reports about extreme weather events—from intensely high temperatures, wildfires and droughts, to storms, floods, mudslides, and more. Many believe that climate change and global warming are making heatwaves and severe floods more intense. It’s a domino effect—as temperatures rise, more frequent and intense heat waves occur. Heat waves cause more frequent wildfires and droughts. Rising temperatures result in more water evaporating from lakes, reservoirs, and oceans which leads to more moisture in the air, causing heavier rainfall, floods, and mudslides. For more than 100 years, humanity has emitted greenhouse gases through industrialization, and those gases are causing warming and extreme weather. Emissions will continue to heat up the planet, leading to even more disasters. We, as architects, design professionals, and collective members of the AIA, can help to change that trajectory. It’s worth rereading the AIA statement—“Building on decades of focused commitment, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is committing the majority of its effort and resources toward leading a landmark initiative to take on climate action. We will expand on current projects, some of which have been in existence since 1990—including the Framework for Design Excellence (formerly known as the COTE Top Ten), to provide 10 measures to guide architects and designers to view their projects through a more holistic lens. We will enhance the 2030 Commitment, which prioritizes energy performance and carbon reduction towards carbon neutral buildings—the initiative strengthens and accelerates AIA’s efforts to support the design of sustainable and resilient communities. AIA’s leadership is mobilizing to match the urgency of the challenge. AIA is creating a Climate Action Plan designed to establish actionable steps and provide the tools and resources for architects to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation goals. From advocating for public policy, to supporting renewable energy use in buildings, from reducing carbon emissions through building design and informed product selection, to spurring energy efficient renovations, and designing for natural hazard risk – America’s architects have a leading role to play in humanity’s collective call to climate action. Climate change is real, it is urgent, and architects have the ability to make an immense difference in mitigating and adapting to its impacts. In the coming weeks, AIA will be publishing its Climate Action Plan along with resources to support its implementation and asking all architects and our collaborators to join us in the fight for our future.” In am excited to share this month’s issue that includes valuable information and examples of climate action—from processes, net zero, and carbon neutrality to case studies in coastal communities, passive house, mass timber, and adaptive reuse. I’m proud to represent the many members who are making positive impacts on our communities and hope that you enjoy the variety of approaches and success stories on the pages that follow. Sincerely,

Pasquale Marchese, AIA 2022 President | AIA New York State


EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT’S LETTER I drafted this letter a few weeks ago after watching Vice President Kamala Harris, joined by Robert Shibley, FAIA, Dean of the School of Architecture, at her visit to the University at Buffalo. During her remarks about the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act as it relates to climate change, she acknowledged the work of architects in designing sustainable homes and communities. The Vice President’s talk was directed to an audience of students and faculty. Her message to the students was that it is their responsibility as future architects to address the challenges of climate change, an important message indeed. Driving to work the next morning, I was thinking about how her inspirational talk undoubtedly resonated with the students—to keep their focus on climate change as part of their studies. The impact of climate change has been addressed and acted upon by The American Institute of Architects and you, for quite some time. As early as 2004, AIANYS leadership recognized the need for educating the members via programs presented by Ed Mazria, FAIA and other environmentalists. Their message then, as it is now, addressed climate change and its impact on the work of architects, and how architects themselves are affecting climate change. The comments by the Vice President drive home that this is not something that will go away or something to put off thinking about in the future. The time to act is now. It is critical to our very existence, and architects are at the forefront to help keep our communities safe. All one has to do is access the AIA website on the Blueprint for Better tab to find practical, applicable resources to help architects achieve a “zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, just and equitable built environment.” From the design process to interacting with government officials, the resources are there, available and written in a way that is easily understood and applied. The AIA is now, and has been, on the front line of climate action. AIA architects all over the country have committed to fight climate change and embrace sustainable design. The articles in this publication are just a few of the examples of incredible projects and processes by New York architects that address sustainable design; integrating technologies that deliver carbon neutral buildings and adapting these principles to current work. Also included is an incredible piece that stresses the importance of providing critical data that illustrates exactly what the impact of climate change has on buildings throughout New York State. As I mentioned at the beginning of my letter, I started this a few weeks ago. Long before we knew about the historic weather that has since hit Florida. Throughout the news broadcasts we have been hearing that the ferocity of this storm is due to the impact of climate change. Yesterday, Tim Boyland, AIA and Illya Azaroff, FAIA, State Disaster Co-Coordinators, sent me an email to advise our New York architects, who have completed the disaster assistance program, to be on the alert for a call from AIA National for potential deployment to areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. This awareness and willingness to act are prime examples of architects who are working to protect the planet, and working to shield citizens from the resulting dangers of climate change. From the concept of a building, to potential destruction of a structure, architects are there to help, using their extensive knowledge to safeguard us all. Take care, stay safe and keep doing what you do best—protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public. Sincerely,

Georgi Ann Bailey, CAE, Hon. AIANYS Executive Vice President | AIA New York State


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THE KEY IS CHANGING OUR PROCESS by Jodi Smits Anderson AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Regenerative Practitioner, Managing Principal, Albany Office, EYP, a Page Company

hree things I try to hold clear in my work: • Process is vital; • Our procurement approaches need work, especially in public bid; and • We cannot be cowed by the magnitude of aspirational goals.

Let me set these out for the record, last to first.

LAST | The Climate Law that passed in New York State is a groundbreaking commitment to reducing our GHG emissions levels to 85% percent below 1990 levels in all sectors. This is a place where we can not only mitigate additional climate change, but can improve human health, reduce monthly costs for energy, begin to heal Nature’s systems, and spur innovation for achievement. Yet it seems that many people are waiting, just waiting, for someone to tell them what to do. Each sector, meaning each business, each architecture firm, each transportation planner, each coffee shop, each college, (and on and on), knows their business and what is possible for them to achieve. What is your firm’s potential in achieving transformative work in every project? Define the capabilities you have and start now.


We know what to do. We have known for decades. Energy, water, and material wastes have been significant and visible problems in the design, construction, and facility operations industry for all time. Air quality and connections to nature are more recent revelations. As architects, we are experts in design and process, and can step up with essentialized solutions for each project we are engaged in. These designs must be appropriate to the microclimate, the users, the operations staff, the budget, and the goals of the owner entity. We can bring real and impactful ideas to the table for discussion. Every single time we bring in ideas for how to move toward carbon neutrality, or any other commitments our clients have already made, we will gain their respect and build our lasting relationship with them. We will then certainly create designs that achieve more than what we have managed in the past. And we will all be definitively working toward the goals of the Climate Law. Don’t wait for someone outside of the profession of architecture to tell you what to do! I can guarantee that most policy makers are not also architects, and they do not know our potential or the constraints that we can use to inform even more significant results.

MIDDLE | Our procurement processes do not support the

innovation we seek, and they often create adversarial relationships with the people building our designs. Even if the systems cannot be immediately changed it is important to be aware so that we can foster the needed innovation in other ways.

From the Author’s sketchbook, illustrating that the constraints are valuable information for better work. Use this for the first discussion, about acting now and how policy makers don’t know what architect’s know.

From the Author’s sketchbook, illustrating the needed indirect work, on self, and the reciprocal impacts on larger, nested systems.

The lowest qualified bidder approach and the quick turnaround of construction documents in that process means risking a poorly informed contractor (or many) and often a need for them to makeup for lost dollars because of underbidding to win the work. In focusing on the now, some work-a-rounds can include having good technical reviewers and CMs on your staff to close holes in the documents, using CM at-Risk, Design-Build approaches (preferably Architect-led and Progressive DB), and Integrative Process work where there is a significant team building with the full design team including the owner and potential contactors.

The thing that is likely most restricting is the specification approach of “or equal” which was created to make sure there is not a tendency toward monopolies in material supply and manufacturing. However, if there are already three products out there, this qualifier is not supporting innovation. Government projects should all support innovation to deliberately shift to our lower carbon future. Some ways to innovate even within these limits include defining pilot projects and then sharing success of these and doing as much as possible to use performance-based specifications. What would be worth exploring is performance-based specifications that have three equals and include an industry signal of what is desired in the future, to spur innovation. NYS has done with the GreenNY commodity specifications, and more recently with the Lower-Carbon Concrete specification, for which I led the development team.

“Nature is incredibly diverse, and

we must be diverse in our approaches and solutions. ”

Photo Credit: Times Union.

Another tough facet is the NYS wicks law, which requires multiple contracts on public work over a certain budget. This nearly always adds costs to the project and creates risk of poor communication on the job site, especially about cross-cutting goals such as energy reduction targets, air quality in construction, waste management, and toxic avoidance. Not insurmountable, but important. A CM can certainly help, but this is an added layer of administrative process and cost.

FIRST | Process is vital and key to our climate actions. I hear time and time again that we need to find the “right” technology solution and scale it, but we don’t teach people how to set goals and identify what will work for their project, or their challenges. Nature is incredibly diverse, and we must be diverse in our approaches and solutions. A lot of money is put into targeted solutions as if they were the only answer, and ubiquitous application will solve all our problems. However, a new plug-in-play solution does not change our behavior. We need to change how people relate to buildings, to each other, and to our world’s natural resources.


Open Hearing from this legislator’s website: Harvey Epstein - Assembly District 74 |Assembly Member Directory | New York State Assembly (ny. gov). This shows the process and openness.

What we need to do is find the process for fully informed and innovative design, and scale that process. The issue of climate is certainly global, but the “solutions” must be specific to the vernacular and materials of the location, the climate and microclimate of the site, and, above all, to the culture of the users and the purpose of the building. The biggest, most impactful aspect of climate adaptation and addressing our climate emergency will be to focus on local in every way possible. “Buy-local” is not purely about from where you buy clothes or food. This is about from how far you truck cladding materials, and if the producer of your flooring is fouling the local aquifer or not, or if your lighting fixtures are caught in the Suez Canal. Once we get into a locally specific mindset in design, we will reduce carbon intensity of the materials in the project, we will control delivery lag better, and we will also begin to see our direct relationship to manufacturing and materials extraction. We will pay attention to labor practices on site and in the production line. We will immediately know that toxins cannot be introduced into our material systems anymore, and that soils, air, and water are valued systems we must protect and clean. And our buildings will be unique and serve the stakeholders and their broader communities better! l

AND AS A BONUS: I have studied as a Regenerative Practitioner, and part of this way of thinking is a very simple concept that is espoused by many successful architects. In concept, zoom out. Stop looking at only to 5’ beyond the walls for where your responsibility ends. As designers of the building, we directly impact the lives of the building user and managers. Yes, we impact the lives of everyone in the community (whatever that definition) where the building is built. We impact the supply chains and the materials manufacturers and the tax revenue for the city. We impact climate with every single choice. If we can remember this awesome weight of responsibility, and do better work, we can mitigate future risk for our planet and most certainly in the shorter term for our firms. It just takes attention, and recognition that the world is changing around us, rapidly. PAGE 8 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

To understand where the AIA stands on climate action, go to https:// Photo Credit: Stilt houses in Ganvie, Benin. Image: Iwan Baan

Jodi is a hiker, knitter, mom, wife, speaker, architect, nature lover, avid board game player, and at the root of it all: a Curious Soul. She has dedicated the past two decades to pursuing what’s possible through sustainability, adaptive reuse, and optimizing energy use, focusing on how the built environment can support the health of our building users, community, and environment. After 15 years of public service work, she appreciates collaboration’s light-handed grace and elegance and respect the vulnerability that comes with posing thought-opening questions. What lessons can we learn from Nature? How can we solve problems together without creating new ones for our community and planet? As a regenerative practitioner, this drives her to do better and inspires her to continue learning. She is honored that she is a part of EYP, a Page company, to guide the Albany Office as its Managing Principal, and her goal is to help members identify their full potential and, in turn, elevate the work to achieve project success.



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CONSTRUCTING A RESILIENT FUTURE FOR NEW YORK STATE’S BUILDINGS by Nicholas Rajkovich, PhD, AIA, State University of New York at Buffalo


ccording to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), New York State is home to more than five million buildings, containing approximately 14 billion square feet of space and collectively valued at more than 2.3 trillion dollars. What is impossible to quantify is this portfolio’s role in the livelihoods of New Yorkers across the state. And yet, virtually all buildings have been designed and built to withstand climate conditions that no longer exist, based on data that looks at historical trends rather than climate projections. Without retrofits and modification, the building stock is not ready for climate change and the severe, dangerous, and extreme weather that will bring a multitude of climate hazards damaging to the built environment—heat waves, heavy precipitation, increased coastal and riverine flooding, and heavier lake effect snow—to name just a few. To prepare, we need to understand the data, details, and demands of climate change impacts on New York State and how it will affect our built environment. By understanding the hazards’ what, when, and where, we can better prepare, plan, and advocate for more resilient buildings. The future of buildings needs to involve mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to changes in the climate, and creating resilient buildings. In the best case, solutions synergistically address all three


“To prepare, we need to understand

the data, details, and demands of climate change impacts on New York State and how it will affect our built environment. ” areas. For example, well-designed, energy efficient buildings have lower associated emissions (mitigation), provide greater comfort and indoor air quality (adaptation), and increase passive survivability (resilience). Long-term investments to help make buildings more climate resilient should be scaled and timed to meet projected hazards over the next century. At the same time, these investments should only apply to buildings that will still be standing and usable when the climate change impacts occur, so determining the feasible useful life of a building given changing climate parameters is becoming increasingly important. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is leading an effort to provide important data and fill in gaps in our understanding of climate impacts

Photo credit: Dena Krichinsky

Buildings in urban and rural areas of New York State are likely to experience the impacts of a changing climate. Photo credit: NYSERDA

on New York State. NYSERDA has convened a diverse group of leaders from all regions of the state; all levels of government, including tribal nations; the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and community advocates; and academia and other research organizations to author a statewide climate impacts assessment. The assessment will document how climate change is affecting and will continue to shape every industry, ecosystem, community, and region of the state. When completed, the document will be a powerful tool for decision makers, including architects, engineers, developers, planners, and others in our industry, to make climate-smart decisions to prepare our buildings for the climate of tomorrow.

the Susquehanna was overtopped by rising flood waters causing $20 million in damages and required a full evacuation, the hospital undertook extensive adaptation and mitigation planning. The final plan included building a 1,365-foot-long concrete T-wall at the 500-year floodplain elevation that surrounded the facility on the east, west, and south side of the property. The project also included 11 automatic floodgates that can be operated electronically and manually, interior drainage and pumping stations, relocation of essential utilities, and the development of an operations and maintenance plan for the new system.

The climate assessment that is underway is drawing on the latest data and modeling to develop a science-based evaluation of observed and projected climate impacts on the state. The final research will provide an accurate, scientific understanding of probable climate change-related impacts, and associated outreach products will be developed to foster informed decisions around climate resiliency, preparedness, and environmental disaster response and recovery. The assessment’s leaders will consider different geographic needs and concerns of underserved communities—including those in urban and rural areas, those on tribal lands, and those disproportionately impacted today and in the future. The Assessment is scheduled for completion by the Spring of 2023, and its findings will be released in languages, formats, and topics that are accessible to and resonate with New York’s decisionmakers, practitioners, and diverse communities across the state.

In September 2011, only a few months after completion of the project, Tropical Storm Lee brought heavy precipitation that overtopped the Susquehanna River’s banks. The flood waters exceeded the previous record of 25 feet, but the hospital was able to remain fully operational for the duration of the flood. While over 2,000 buildings in Binghamton were damaged, the hospital was able to remain open , saving hundreds of lives and millions of dollars.

In addition to defining climate impacts and explaining their threat to the built environment, the assessment will highlight case studies of innovators and communities in New York already working on climate-smart solutions that not only build resiliency but also serve community needs. For example, in Binghamton, Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital is a 197-bed community hospital providing emergency and surgery services, cancer treatment, and outpatient care and is located on the Susquehanna River within the designated 100-year floodplain. To avoid impacts from flooding, such as occurred in 2006 when the earthen berm separating the hospital from

Another example is in Breezy Point, Queens, where after Superstorm Sandy, Illya Azaroff, FAIA, Director of Design, Resilience, and Regenerative Strategies at +LAB Architect PLLC, designed a home to higher standards as a “hurricane strong” home. This building combined the resiliency principles of the national #HurricaneStrong initiative with international passive house standards. The home is designed so that it can be a saferoom in the event of a disaster with hardy materials and a renewable energy system that allows the home to support itself without access to the grid. The structure is lifted 15-feet from the base flood elevation with an additional 3-feet for projected water level rise on a reinforced concrete foundation. Stainless steel dual-action flood vents allow flood water to enter and exit the foundation to prevent structural damage from hydrostatic pressure. While the materials used are strong, they do not look out of place in the community as the use of “relatable materials” was important to have the house blend in with the surrounding context. The new hurricane-strong home was only 9-10 percent


more expensive to build than a typical home, but with energy, maintenance, and insurance savings the upgrades can pay back in 8-10 years. Innovative approaches such as these show not just what is possible but also what is imperative if we are to protect and sustain the state’s building stock. We cannot turn away from the challenge: homes and structures across New York State are facing significant risk from a changing climate. The NYS Climate Impacts Assessment will help provide the data and analysis to help make the best decisions to preserve and stabilize New York’s most vulnerable communities and ensure that our state will be able to adapt to and thrive in the face of a changing climate. l To learn more about the assessment, visit and stay tuned for updates on the assessment Twitter page, @NYSClimate, and on LinkedIn by following NYSERDA.


Nicholas B. Rajkovich is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo (UB). His work at UB focuses on the intersection among climate change, energy efficiency, and community development. Nicholas is currently the buildings sector co-chair for the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment, examining how the built environment of the Northeastern U.S. will need to adapt to climate change. He has also supported organizations like the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council as they incorporate resilience into their programs. He is a licensed architect, has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan, a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University.

cove.tool is Helping Architects Offset 33.7 million Tonnes of Carbon information required to set up and report a project to the 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx). Once signatories have agreed to the commitment, they can report their data directly from cove. tool to the DDx to track progress toward their commitment goals by measuring their projects against industry sustainability averages. Inputs include calculating the baseline and predicted Energy Use Intensity (EUI), Lighting Power Density (LPD), Renewable Energy (PV), and Embodied Carbon (kgCO2e). These values demonstrate where a building falls on the performance spectrum for Energy Use and Carbon Reduction. cove.tool, the automated building performance modeling platform, has been making waves in the AEC industry - transforming the typical architectural workflow and democratizing high-performance building design. The company’s robust suite of products empowers users to quickly create multiple iterations of their building in the early stages of their project, enhancing cross-team collaboration between architects, engineers, contractors, and clients through automation and data-driven design. In addition to speed and collaboration, the platform’s ease of use can equip any novice architect to perform carbon studies, analysis for 2D/3D design, and HVAC sizing and selection at any design stage. Sandeep Ahuja and Patrick Chopson founded cove.tool in 2017 after leaving their consulting practice, Pattern r+d, to focus on exploring new ways to help architects, mechanical engineers, and contractors adopt sustainable design practices. With the help of Patrick’s brother, cove.tool co-founder Daniel Chopson, the team created their first version of the software. At that time, architecture firms had few resources available to make their projects competitive while focusing on hitting their performance targets. While many large firms had inhouse analysis teams, many organizations were limited by the number of projects they could take on per year or lacked the necessary consultancy budget. Resultingly, the cove.tool team set its sights on helping firms run analysis in-house to reduce the operating and construction costs of their designs. We see this in the naming of the software, cove.tool, because of its ability to optimize for cost against energy across projects (cost vs. energy, i.e., cove). cove.tool’s mission is to fight climate change by empowering the AEC industry to streamline building performance analysis. With many architecture firms pledging to develop actionable climate strategy via the AIA 2030 Commitment, the company designed the software to generate the minimum amount of

Buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of all carbon emissions, but today, embodied carbon studies are often inaccessible to the average design team. Earlier this year, cove. tool announced the development of a new embodied carbon feature, which will allow architects and engineers to capture the total embodied carbon of their project in the product stage. The tool taps directly into the EC3 database, enabling organizations to investigate building materials and their carbon footprint quickly and easily. It delivers valuable insights for early decision-makers by providing automated estimates of structural quantities. This offers them a holistic look at the project’s carbon profile, comparing embodied carbon with operational carbon to make critical project decisions. The feature is anticipated to launch later this year. Climate change is one of the most significant threats to our quality of life. The observable effects of climate change on the environment, including loss of glacier ice and intense heat waves, have left researchers fearful about the future of our planet. By working towards strategies to lessen the carbon output of the built environment, architects and engineers have the potential to significantly mitigate the effects of climate change. cove.tool CEO Sandeep Ahuja announced at the Collision Conference in Toronto that cove.tool is responsible for helping architects offset 33.7 Million Tonnes of Carbon, which is equivalent to 83,650,327,391 miles driven by an average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle. Today, cove.tool has more than 19,000 users worldwide, all of whom are committed to making sustainability a part of their practice. Many of these firms, who previously relied on consultants, can now perform various complex analyses independently. The product suite makes building performance analysis more accessible, allowing many users to leverage their findings to create sustainability-first buildings without sacrificing the aesthetic of the building.





ew York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly, just, and equitable transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (the Climate Act) puts New York on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040. This includes 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings by 2025. New York is also supporting Governor Hochul’s plan to achieve two million climate-friendly, electrified, or electrification-ready homes by 2030, with a minimum of 1 million electrified homes and up to 1 million electrification-ready homes. More than 800,000 low-to-moderate income houses are expected to receive clean energy upgrades under this plan. This plan is supported by a series of legislative and policy actions that include all new building construction reaches zero-emissions by 2027.

DeKalb Commons, Buildings of Excellence Competition. Rendering by Nightnurse Images courtesy of Magnusson Architecture and Planning.


These policies and goals are supported by New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy to reduce buildings emissions, increase large-scale renewable and transmission projects, and scale up solar and transportation initiatives across the state. At least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. These investments

are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020 and will help New York to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. Buildings account for more than a third of the economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and most of the State’s current building stock was constructed before energy codes were passed and were, therefore, not constructed to be energy efficient. Decarbonized buildings and communities will help improve building resiliency, occupant health and productivity, revitalize communities, and continue the transition to a clean energy economy.

Since the launch in 2019, two rounds of the Competition have awarded over $31 million to over 40 projects across both the market rate and affordable housing communities. The Competition continues to show innovation, replicability, scalability, and the advancing shift to carbon neutrality and resiliency in the New York State building stock. All of Round Two’s awarded projects are proposed as all-electric buildings, including the first “super tall” project. Round Two also included a partnership with The Architectural League of New York to ensure overall design quality was an important criterion in the evaluation of the projects. Five projects were selected to receive the Blue Ribbon for Design Excellence award (https://www.nyserda.

Basilica Hudson Industries, Carbon Neutral Community Economic Development Program (CNCED). Rendering Credit: Pelletier de Fontenay

Zero Place (Top) and Zero Place Rooftop Seating (Bottom), Buildings of Excellence Competition.

Architects, industry experts, and other members of the design community are some of the key influencers in producing designs in a responsible way. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) partnered with AIA for the one-of-a-kind competition, $40 million Buildings of Excellence Competition (the Competition) (https://www.nyserda. to spur the design and innovation of clean, resilient, and carbon neutral multifamily buildings, that protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, all at a predictable cost. Through this effort, architects and developers are working together to advance Governor Hochul’s two-million climate-friendly homes initiative and shape the future of our buildings in this market sector, which represents about 40 percent of projected new building construction in New York (by square footage).

The Competition also continues to evolve to meet market needs and support policy goals. The most recently launched Third Round, will do just that, and build off the successes in Rounds One and Two. More focus has been placed on design quality, resiliency, and providing healthier, safer, and more comfortable living conditions for occupants. Round Three added a new component to the Competition, funding early-stage support for design teams to ensure the most clean, resilient, cost-effective, and occupant focused solutions are integrated into projects from the start. Successful Round Three projects are expected to seamlessly integrate these characteristics. NYSERDA partnered with Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Department of State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) to administer the companion program to the Competition, Carbon Neutral Community Economic Development Program (CNCED) ( All-Programs/Carbon-Neutral-Economic-Development) to fund projects that will accelerate building decarbonization and economic development in Disadvantaged Communities and Downtown Revitalization Initiative districts. The program also funds commercial and mixed-use facilities that will reduce climate change-causing building emissions, improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, and result in jobs that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits to further support the transition to a clean energy economy. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 17

Tower 3, Carbon Neutral Communities for Economic Development Program. Rendering Credit: Newman Design Group.

Since the launch in 2018, three Rounds of CNCED have awarded $40 million to over 35 projects across the agricultural, civic, college and university, education, and office sectors. Funding has gone to projects that are both individual buildings and large community, campus, or portfolio scaled projects. Eight of the 19 projects awarded in the Third Round, are in disadvantaged communities, which is consistent with the goal for clean energy investments to under resourced communities. Round Three featured New York’s first all-electric, carbon neutral maple syrup operation, located in Canandaigua and North America’s first certified passive warehouse, located in Ulster County. CNCED is another program that shows the shift to a clean and carbon neutral building stock across all building types. Almost 50 percent of the projects across all three Rounds of the program have been adaptive reuse of an existing building to carbon natural performance, with many of these projects being historic structures requiring considerations associated with maintaining the building’s character and heritage. Existing buildings that undergo modernization, will inherently have lower embodied carbon than new construction projects. The most recently launched $10 million Fourth Round will continue to build off the successes of the previous three. The awarded projects continue to show the feasibility of applying clean energy technologies to both new and existing buildings across many different building types, industries, and uses. These projects also often serve as the anchor project for surrounding neighborhood redevelopment and stronger community connectivity. Through the AIA 2030 initiative, AIA continues to prioritize greenhouse gas reductions, resiliency, and occupant indoor health and comfort. NYSERDA is excited to continue this partnership, and look to the collective power of the architectural, development, and construction communities to continue to apply their problem-solving skills and expertise to further clean and resilient solutions that provide healthy living and work-spaces for all New Yorkers. NYSERDA remains impressed by the innovation, interest, and participation in these programs. The awarded projects continue to show that, with leadership and creativity, we can bring affordable, beautiful, clean, and resilient buildings to scale. l PAGE 18 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

Frederic Church Center, Carbon Neutral Communities for Economic Development Program. Rendering Credit: Architecture Research Office/Nelson Byrd Woltz.

Susanne is NYSERDA’s Vice President of Clean and Resilient Buildings leading the Authority’s work on building decarbonization, advancing programs and policies to deliver a carbon-neutral building stock. Prior to joining NYSERDA in April 2022, she served as Regulatory Director for Energy Policy at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Climate & Sustainability and Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. While there, she was responsible for the City’s energy policy and regulatory affairs at the local, state, and federal levels, and directed the City’s policies and programs designed to adapt regional infrastructure systems to climate change and the City’s efforts to transition to 100 percent clean electricity by 2040. She led the City’s long-term energy planning efforts, which centered on decarbonization while prioritizing a just and affordable energy transition for all New Yorkers. Susanne also led the City’s efforts to ensure climate resiliency was integrated into utility and bulk power system planning and oversaw the development of the NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines. She led the NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which works to identify climate risks and coordinate adaptation strategies and was a chapter author for the fourth National Climate Assessment. She was previously the Chief of Resilience and Sustainability for the Engineering Department at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Susanne is highly regarded in the clean energy and resilience space. She holds a Bachelor of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Susanne is on the faculty of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Professional Studies.

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DESIGN POSSIBILITIES OF PASSIVE HOUSE by Michael Ingui, AIA, Partner, Baxt Ingui Architects


eyond the performance benefits of Passive House building, one of the most exciting aspects for architects is opening up new design possibilities. Each of the five Principles of Passive House comes with its own unique co-benefits for homeowners and opens up a new opportunity for designers.

to a smart membrane, or, in some cases, A-C plywood, with the A-quality side facing the interior. From here, installing windows without thermal bridges and sealing those windows to the smart membrane or equal is essential.

AIRTIGHTNESS The first principle of Passive House is airtightness – building a well-sealed building that does not lose heat or air conditioning through cracks and holes in walls, doors, and windows. For homeowners, this is felt through reduced draftiness and unwanted moisture, fewer bugs, and less dust entering the home through cracks and crevices. For architects, an airtight building without drafts frees you from the need for radiators along exterior walls and for blanketing exterior windows with heating or cooling. In combination with proper shading, this unlocks the possibility for exciting spaces and large expanses of glass. The airtight strategy begins in the cellar with heavy-mill plastic vapor barrier that is continuous below the slab. This, along with rigid insulation, creates a warm and dry cellar. The plastic vapor barrier has a continuous seam along all four sides to the liquid-applied vapor-open product applied on the party walls from cellar to roof. At both the front and rear walls, and at the roof, the liquid-applied product is connected continuously


Large windows and a double height-space with a bridge connecting the front living space to the rear deck are made possible through our airtightness strategy. Photo Credit: Peter Peirce

HIGH PERFORMANCE WINDOWS AND DOORS WITH PROPER SOLAR MANAGEMENT Well-installed, triple-pane windows are one of the keys to achieving Passive House airtightness goals. Standard windows allow air leakage and drafts. High quality windows allow for large expanses of glass without fear that entire rooms will become unusable in the winter or dead of the summer. To ensure that the sun doesn’t overly heat spaces, proper solar management can maximize utility of every space in a house all day long. You can achieve this through decorative exterior shading, plantings, and siting the house properly.

Air sealed and framed party wall.

Passive-Certified and Passive-quality windows are a game-changer for homeowners because they create warm, safe, and quiet indoor environments. They are also highly customizable, and can free the designer to recreate historic windows, design intricate glass systems, and increase daylighting.

BALANCED VENTILATION WITH HEAT RECOVERY Because Passive Houses are as airtight as possible, developing a ventilation strategy to fit each client’s exact needs ensures that they leave with the most comfortable home possible. The second principle of Passive House is balanced ventilation with heat recovery, which clients experience as feeling comfortable throughout the entire home. A successful airtightness strategy lowers heating and cooling loads enough to significantly reduce ventilation and other mechanicals significantly and can be placed in the center of the home. Often, Passive Houses in New York City do not need heating, except for a few days of the year. This enables a small VRF HVAC unit to provide heating and cooling for the entire home. With a successful airtightness strategy, you also get to choose where your fresh air comes from. We often elect to use an ERV to provide filtered, fresh air, 24/7. What this doesn’t account for is the need for a ventilation strategy. In our homes, that often means still providing a bit of exhaust at the kitchen range and, where needed, make up air for that exhaust. This creates a healthy, fresh interior space our passive house clients find hard to describe. Effective Passive House ventilation creates clean spaces while minimizing bulky design elements like excessive grilles and vents.

Our ventilation strategy allowed us to create a wide open kitchen with minimal ductwork and a full gas range in this Carroll Gardens Passive Plus House. Photo Credit: John Muggenborg

A showstopping feature of this Brooklyn Heights Passive House is a massive 5-plane skylight above the attic-level home gym. The unique feature required meticulous strategizing to ensure that the space didn’t overheat at peak hours of the day without reducing the height of the sloped ceiling. Photo Credit: Peter Peirce

THERMAL BRIDGE-FREE DESIGN Thermal bridges are a primary cause of unwanted heat loss in brutal New York winters. A common thermal bridge in New York City townhouses occurs when a joist runs along tight to the outside wall without outbound insulation. This configuration will radiate the cold 3 to 4 or even 5 feet into a space through the finished floor and ceiling. In such a home, radiators are often working hard to heat construction materials along with the interior air in a house. By simply installing insulation between the first joist and the outside wall, even if this requires blocking, a thermal break is created. This reduces the need for heating to warm up any of the building’s materials. This, combined with high-quality windows and an airtightness strategy significantly reduces the amount of insulation necessary to thermally regulate a house. Ensuring that your engineers and designers eliminate them preconstruction can create a warm, stable temperature throughout the entire perimeter of a home. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 21

This frees designers to mix materials that would typically pose risks of creating uneven patches of cold and heat throughout a space and preventing utilization of the entire space. Cleverly designed thermal breaks can ensure warm walls and floors from window to wall, without heavy reliance on costly features like radiant heating.

A roof deck with a furnished penthouse provides indoor-outdoor living in NYC. Continuous insulation and a cleverly designed solar canopy ensure that the indoor area stays temperate, even in the middle of the summer. Photo Credit: John Muggenborg


In this Carroll Gardens townhouse, a rear façade made almost entirely of glass and steel contains cleverly designed thermal breaks to keep the cold out. Photo Credit: John Muggenborg

Once you’ve created a successful airtightness strategy, reduced your thermal bridges, and installed Passive-quality windows and doors, there are a number of ways to provide continuous insulation, both interior and exterior. An essential step is working with your passive house consultant to run your design through PHPP, WUFI or a similar program ensures that you are properly insulated, that your wall details are vapor-open, and that you’ve located your dewpoint. For many of our projects, we install four inches of rigid insulation outboard of the roof joists, and still blow in cellulose dense pack insulation between the joists. This combination puts the dew point in the right location, while rigid insulation on the exterior stops most of the heat from making its way to the building materials in the first place. Our practice has found Passive House Consultants to be an invaluable tool to successful projects because they take the guess work out of insulation and thermal breaking decisions. There are very few other things that can minimize risk in this way. Continuous insulation creates a strong, low-energy building envelope throughout the entire house. This helps keeps buildings comfortable, even with large expanses of glass that would typically lower air temperature in upper spaces, such as attics and penthouses. All of this combines to create highly customizable spaces from cellar to roof. One of the significant benefits of having fewer mechanicals is being able to use the roof area for more exciting spaces. In New York City, these spaces are valuable and quite welcome. In fact, many neighbors who have seen the lack of mechanicals on the roofs of Passive House buildings we’ve created, have chosen Passive House retrofits to reclaim that space.

A careful insulation strategy allowed us to unlock views of Manhattan in an attic-level home office. We added a wall of northwest-facing glazing and pulled back the walls to add a small roof deck in this Carroll Gardens Passive Plus House. Photo Credit: Adam Kane Macchia. PAGE 22 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

Small Passive House mechanical systems, rooftop insulation, and clever ventilation strategies allowed this Brooklyn Heights Passive House to have space for an outdoor kitchen complete with multiple seating areas and even a full range. l

Design possibilities don’t end at the roof, though – in this cellar, Passive House strategies allowed us to include a home gym, kept cold, with an adjacent steam room for post-workout unwinding. Photo Credit: John Muggenborg

Oct. 14 | Oct. 21 | Oct. 28 Join this virtual five-part legal series covering issues affecting the architectural and design professions. Prominent attorneys from the three states will be featured in each program discussing contract management, licensing and ethics, human resource management, insurance issues and what potential trends are coming that may affect you. You can register for individual sessions or the entire series (AIA CES credits pending).*

Photo Credit: Peter Peirce

Friday, October 14 (two sessions) 10:00-11:30am | The Architect's Guide to Contract Administration 1:00-2:30pm | Architectural Ethics

A partner at Baxt Ingui Architects since 2000, Michael believes in creative collaborations and allows his artistic process to inform his designs, blending art and architecture to award winning spaces and groundbreaking businesses. Michael is also co-founder of BIA Interiors (2016), an integrated and forward-thinking interiors firm within Baxt Ingui. A leader in High performance buildings, Michael is also the founder of the Passive House Accelerator (2019); and co-founder of Source 2050 (2021).

Friday, October 21 (two sessions) 10:00-11:30am | Managing Human Resources Risk in the Post Pandemic Office 1:00-2:30pm | Professional Liability Insurance Policy-What Architects Should Know Friday, October 28 10:00-11:30am | Insurance Trends Roundtable: We've We Been and Where We're Going Buy the Full Bundle and Save! Full Registration for AIA Members is $195.

For information on additional pricing tiers and to register, click here. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 23

HOW TO DESIGN FOR AIR QUALITY We spend the majority of our time indoors. Find out why designing with the air quality of your home in mind can help impact your overall health and well-being.


When we spend time outdoors, we tend to forget how much fresh air is affecting us in positive ways. But what happens to us when we’re spending most of our time indoors? How can that affect our overall mood and health? To understand the science behind indoor air quality, we interviewed Eric Sun (Senior Manager and Air and Thermal Comfort Concept Lead, Standard Development) from the International WELL Building Institute. “Do you ever feel drowsy and lethargic in a packed meeting room? That could be because there’s too much carbon dioxide from people breathing and not enough oxygen to keep people alert and active. Carbon dioxide is actually dangerous at very high levels. Buildings without sufficient ventilation can lead to elevated carbon dioxide levels that cause fatigue, tiredness, headaches, dizziness and disorientation. It’s important to keep a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to keep people healthy and productive,” Sun said.


isn’t enough fresh outside air to dilute build-up and can be exacerbated by elevated heat and humidity,” Sun said. As a homeowner, there are ways to help combat VOCs. Regular cleanings and controlling moisture can help keep biological contaminants like mold, dust, dust mites and other pests at bay. “Places with high industrial activities and stagnant still air can cause a build-up of particulate pollution outdoors, which can find its way inside. Wildfires have also been increasing globally, and can generate smoke with unhealthy levels of PM2.5 pollution. Indoor sources of PM2.5 include cooking, burning candles, and low-quality vacuums without HEPA filters,” Sun said.

MORE WAYS TO HELP IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY One of the easiest ways—and least expensive—is regular ventilation. As Sun said, “It has a huge impact on indoor air quality and it costs nothing. Opening windows 3 to 4 times a day for 30 minutes can help limit build-up of indoor pollutants.

Thermal comfort is the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment and is assessed by subjective evaluation. In other words, it’s the most comfortable temperature amongst everyone in a home or building.

Sometimes, the right combination of open doorways and windows can create a draft and ventilate even faster. If outdoor air quality is perpetually bad, you may want to limit ventilation on those bad outdoor air days. Definitely crack open windows and turn on range hoods/exhausts when cooking.”

“Thermal comfort greatly influences our experiences in the places where we live and work and it impacts individual levels of motivation, alertness, focus and mood. Unfortunately, perception varies amongst individuals and what is comfortable to some may be steamy for others.

He then states that upgrading your furnace filter to a higher efficiency one—MERV13 or higher—can help keep dust and pollen levels low in a home. Standalone air purifiers are even more efficient at cleaning the air.

We’ve also found that many heating/cooling systems in homes are not properly balanced. Air may not be properly sent to the right places. If you find your bedroom to be much colder than a common area, consider hiring a technician to test and balance your home,” Sun said.

VOCS AND THEIR IMPACT TO HOMEOWNERS VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are chemicals normally found in the air as gases. “There are thousands of VOCs—some are harmless, but others are EPA classified carcinogens. Many harmful VOCs are used in renovation materials (paints, varnishes, sealants), furnishings (particleboard, foam), cleaners, fuels, and pesticides. Some occur naturally and can be emitted from fruits and foods. These compounds can build up to unhealthy levels when there

Look at the CADR rating and technical specifications to make sure they’re adequately sized for the rooms they’ll be in. Filters work more efficiently in enclosed spaces, so keep interior doorways and windows closed when possible so they work faster. Cleaning on a regular basis also has an impact on air quality, especially with pets in the home. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Air quality and circulation are important factors for current homeowners who may be looking to purchase a new home as well. According to “Designing for Happiness at Home” a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Marvin, 95 percent of homeowners agree air circulation is an important factor they consider when buying a home. And with more time added inside with working from home, it’s more important than ever to have a space that’s safe and healthy for your whole family.



CHECK IN AT THE HOTEL MARCEL: A NET ZERO, ULTRA-EFFICIENT RETROFIT HOTEL by Kate Doherty, Building Systems Consultant at Steven Winter Associates


limate action and more aggressive climate goals are being implemented across the US. In the Northeast especially, many states are “greening” grids and setting strict carbon reduction goals. How we design and operate new and existing buildings takes a front row seat in the discussion of emissions reductions. Originally designed in 1988 by architect Marcel Breuer, the now Hotel Marcel sets a prime example for sustainable design and reconstruction in the hospitality industry and beyond. In addition to electrifying and working towards Net Zero operation in its first year servicing guests, Hotel Marcel is pending Passive House and LEED BD+C Hospitality Platinum certifications. After being left vacant for years, this building has become proof that the wellplanned and efficient re-design of buildings will help states reach their emission reduction goals.

Original window head detail by Marcel Breuer

Hotel Marcel was originally owned and operated by Armstrong Rubber Company as an office building from 1970 to 1988. In 1988, Pirelli Tire Company took ownership of the office building until 2003, and while it was left vacant, it was added to the CT state register of historic places. Following Pirelli, the adjacent IKEA utilized the site for parking from 2003 until the property was sold to architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker in 2020. Bruce Becker of Becker + Becker could see the potential for an adaptive, sustainable reuse of this office building located just off I-95 in New Haven, CT. In his words, “We hope this building can have a presence beyond its four walls and it can


SWA’s first walk through on-site.

Left: Beginning stages of KLAR window installation. Right: SWA pre-drywall insulation inspection with view of adjacent IKEA.

requirements to achieve certification. Since Hotel Marcel is a historic retrofit project, there were a few unique challenges in design. The team could not alter the pre-cast concrete exterior in any way, so an interior, low-VOC closed cell spray foam was chosen for the insulation.

Shading analysis done by SWA to account for passive shading on each window by its surrounding pre-cast concrete panel.

be an example for the hotel industry. I think if you can recycle buildings and put the beautiful ones to reuse, that’s the greenest thing you can do.” The Becker + Becker team had big goals to redesign this building into a beautiful, Net Zero hotel. They rallied the wider team of designers, engineers, and consultants in the early stages of design, and were ready to take on this historic retrofit in Summer of 2020. The project goals included achieving Net Zero certification with 100% of the building’s energy use being offset by renewables, meeting the program criteria for Passive House EnerPHit and LEED BD+C Hospitality Platinum certifications, and total electrification—including the commercial kitchen! Steven Winter Associates’ (SWA) main objective in the industry is to improve the built environment through a wide range of consulting services. SWA was responsible for Enclosure consulting, Sustainability consulting, Passive House design and construction support, and Accessibility consulting for Hotel Marcel. SWA’s teams worked with Bruce Becker to design a comfortable, resilient, and highly efficient hotel. Passive House is key in reducing building emissions and integrating renewable energy into the building stock. Hotel Marcel followed the retrofit track of Passive House certification known as EnerPHit. Passive House is a performance-based standard that has stringent airtightness and overall energy demand

Additionally, the upgraded windows needed to have the same appearance from the exterior as the originals, so Becker + Becker worked with KLAR windows to choose a high-performing product with low-profile framing to match. SWA’s enclosures utilized Breuer’s original details and drawings to adapt the design and properly bridge the continuous air barrier at every window connection using Aerolon Tape and Aerogel products in addition to an air and vapor barrier tape. Marcel Breuer was ahead of his time. The geometry of the building façade and the inset of the windows provides passive window shading that helps keep the cooling demand on the building low. In addition to high performance windows and an airtight, well-insulated envelope, efficient mechanical systems were essential to keeping this project within the Passive House thresholds. The Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) system with heat recovery and the centralized heat pump domestic hot water system on Hotel Marcel helped drive the building’s energy loads down from the start. Becker + Becker worked with a kitchen designer to make sure that the equipment schedule could support a menu that would not sacrifice any crowd favorites. The hotel’s all-electric, commercial kitchen boasts the ability to use a Type 1- Recirculation hood system since there is no gas combustion. This system does not require ventilation to the exterior, reducing loads associated with the heating, cooling and ventilation systems. And as a bonus—without open flames, the facility stays cooler, and the staff are healthier and more comfortable! Onsite photovoltaic systems on the roof and parking carports will offset 100% of the building’s energy use. The system is integrated with the grid and Hotel Marcel will have the ability to utilize its own onsite battery storage in the event of a power outage or emergency event. Resilience is an extremely important factor in new construction as well as retrofit upgrades. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 27

Rooftop PV system.

Recirculation hood system in the all-electric kitchen.

And what is even better than using renewable energy on a project? Not needing as much renewable generation to offset the building energy in the first place! When Passive House drives heating and cooling loads down with an airtight building and highly efficient mechanical systems, less renewable energy production is needed to bring the building into Net Zero territory. A win for achieving certifications as well as lowering operational costs. Evolving local and state climate legislation, the need for more resilient buildings, and the overwhelming urge for builders and developers to do better for the future of building stock are all factors that prompt the adoption of green building technologies and sustainable design. SWA encourages other design professionals to get their teams of experts involved in the project as early as possible and to not be afraid to set big goals! Hotel Marcel is proof that there are benefits to upgrading existing buildings, and designing high-performing buildings. The guests at the hotel enjoy a comfortable, quiet, and healthy stay, while renewables offset the buildings energy use and the owner benefits from lower operational costs. Building good buildings has its challenges and takes a whole team dedicated to making a positive change in industry standards, but the environmental and economical payoffs are worth it. l


Solar canopy array that in addition to roof PV systems, will offset 100% of the building’s energy use, allowing the building to achieve Net Zero.

Kate provides project assistance to the Passive House team at Steven Winter Associates (SWA). She conducts feasibility studies for new clients and conducts energy modeling and 3D building modeling for a range of building types pursuing Passive House certification. For Passive House International (PHI) projects utilizing SWA’s certifier scope, Kate acts as the financial manager and manages documentation and project timelines while supporting the accredited certifier with model reviews and client interactions. Additionally, Kate provides support for clients throughout their design and certification processes and coordinates construction submittals internally for streamlined redistribution to project teams. Her experience at SWA, with a wide range of project types including historical retrofits, multifamily, and commercial use buildings, allows her to be more effective in supporting the team.

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he UN Climate roadmap outlines a 12% reduction in CO2 by 2030, warming the planet by only 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of the 2.7 degrees that we are now on track to hit by the end of this century. With 40% of global resources going to the built environment, controlling embodied carbon and operational reductions are paramount for the future of architecture and its impact on our planet. Completely replacing our existing infrastructure with new sustainable buildings would take a hundred years which we don’t have. Since we are now literally out of time, alternate approaches are required. One of a few strategies that are beneficial in resolving this dilemma is the employment of adaptive reuse as a design approach repurposing existing infrastructure. Sustainability in design is more affected by material selection than the spatial organization of a project. Whether using renewable mass timber or an ultralight membrane for enclosure, daylighting and acoustics, the materials we choose are a key element of environmental consciousness. Limiting new materials by adaptively reusing as many existing ones as possible is a design challenge that allows for creative and sustainable solutions, reinterpreting our existing building stock to minimize embodied carbon and provide us with new hybrid facilities. The Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater is a case study of such a design process.

Top: New covered outdoor music facility. Bottom: Existing abandoned minor league baseball stadium. PAGE 30 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

In 2017, the leaving the city with an empty facility and little prospect of reuse. A local developer, Howard Saffan in association with Live Nation and the City of Bridgeport, decided

to develop the empty ball field into a covered outdoor music facility for an underserved music performance market between the large cities of Boston and New York. FTL Design Engineering Studio was invited to join the project which included an in-house construction firm and a local architect, Mingolello and Associates. Our first sense was that the stadium was in relatively good shape having been built in the 90’s and that our goal should be to preserve as much as possible of the existing facility while augmenting it with a dramatic new enclosure. This required the design team to become forensic designers and engineers, examining the structure and foundations to determine where the strong points were located, where additional loads could be added and where new points could be created that would not interfere with the existing building. In addition, the existing tall bleachers required for sport sightlines would now have to be covered to become integrated into the existing stadium. One couldn’t span the old ball field with most materials such as concrete or glass, but lightweight tensile approaches were not only possible, but desirable with their minimal weight on the existing structures.

Lightweight tensile approaches were not only possible, but desirable with their minimal weight on the existing structures.

FTL developed four different design approaches and in discussions with the owner, decided that a frame structure made the most sense. Inserting this frame at the perimeter of the old ball field and locating the stage at second base gave the orchestra and bleacher seating the ability to accommodate the required 5,700 seats. The frame structure was in effect two different structures conjoined along a trussed gantry walkway circling 80 feet above grade. The first structure covering the ball field became a tensegrity roof with spans of one hundred and fifty feet using 7 ‘flying masts’ to give sufficient curvature for a membrane roof. The second structure integrated this central tensile structure with the existing stadium using framed steel trusses with a tensioned membrane acting as a skirt, flexible enough to incorporate the shorter lengths where needed and longer ones where it was appropriate. The skirt was then supported in the open areas with piers and tetrahedrons to keep the perimeter open on the sides for exiting. In addition, an iconic entry wayfinding element was developed to draw spectators through ticketing and screening into the performance facility. Using a structural membrane contains several advantages but also carries some challenges. The same fabric has to perform simultaneously in many different ways: structurally framed for

Roof Interior.

curvature to resist uplift and downward pressures, luminous to allow for volumetric lighting of the facility from the outside and inside and acoustically shaped to not create trapped sound pockets in the overall form. We specified a luminous PTFE coated glass fabric which is non-combustible (eliminating sprinklers) with a lifespan in excess of 30 years. The areas where the flying masts join the fabric, we specified ETFE foil skins to bring in more light. Between the two structures we employed a black mesh fabric for passive cooling. In addition large fans were located in the central space to circulate air in the summer months. This unique roof became a draw to both the audience and musicians. As Mr. Saffan describes it, “artists are blown away by the beauty of our venue, due in large part to our iconic roof.”


New seating was developed for the orchestra as well as the raised seating of the old stadium. The stage house was a simple truss frame with metal cladding which mimicked the curve of the fabric roof. Attached to the backstage was a substantial back of house which was new construction including loading docks, storage, dressing rooms, green rooms, lounge areas, offices and even an outdoor/indoor dining area for the musical ‘talent’. As a music venue it is considered a ‘boutique’ amphitheater with about 6,000 seats but because of its configuration, the interior space feels intimate. The exterior form which sits between Interstate I 95 and the Amtrak / Metro North rail lines has become an iconic element on the Bridgeport waterfront, many concerts are sold out and the facility provides a community service hosting graduations and special events when concerts are not booked. It is a new facility incorporating the ballpark tradition and amending it to reenergize downtown Bridgeport. As Howard Saffan aptly put it, “The finished product completely exceeds our expectations. The artistic element to the roof structure is just incredible. The venue serves as a beacon of development to the City of Bridgeport, representing the renaissance of the City. The majestic roof overlooking Interstate 95 lets all 1 million travelers per week know they are in Bridgeport Connecticut.” In essence, the adaptive reuse process created a complete architectural transformation of an abandoned facility which formerly charged $11 a seat to become a new state-of-the-art music venue able to charge $100 a seat. Reusing the existing PAGE 32 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

infrastructure, foundations, seating tiers and adding a new enclosure, the upgraded facility brings value to the community, an increased tax base for the City and even attracts a company like Hartford Healthcare to become its sponsor. This recipe can be used in many urban and suburban areas as a sustainable renewal process to invigorate old infrastructure. l Nic is the Founder and Principal of FTL Design Engineering Studio in New York, and former Chair of the Lightweight Structures Association. He has spent over 40 years pioneering lightweight technologies and teaching innovative construction and design principles. Prior to founding FTL, he was a designer for the Pritzker Prize Winner Frei Otto in Germany, known for the German Olympic Stadium. Nic’s firm explores lightness as a visual, physical and sustainable approach and has received numerous design awards including the Carlos Moseley Pavilion for the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, the Rosa Parks Transit Center in Detroit and the Sun Valley Pavilion in Idaho. He has designed exhibitions on solar energy for the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and has been featured in publications including an Architectural Monograph titled, FTL: Softness, Movement, Light and his new book, Mass to Membrane published by ORO Editions.


Stainless steel:

- Extremely efficient reflector of solar energy - Offsets global warming and the heat island effect - Substantially reduces insulation requirements

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The choice is simple. metal made better



Habitat for Humanity and Build with Strength (BWS) have partnered on a nationwide project to build 50 concrete homes in 50 states in 5 years.


Supported by the National Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), this initiative brings resilient and sustainable concrete housing to exemplary community members and their families who will have a place to call home for years to come. The construction of these houses would not be possible without our volunteers, partners, and Insulated Concrete Form


(ICF) construction. ICFs have quickly become the material of choice for residential and Multi-family construction due to their efficiency, strength, affordability, and sustainable properties.

Build with Strength is proud to partner with the NY Construction Materials Association in the construction of Habitat for Humanity ICF homes in NYS. See contacts below for more info.


NYS CONTACTS: Doug O'Neill (716) 801-6546

Eileen Renaud (518) 783-0909


Want to learn more about ICFs and their role in our Habitat for Humanity efforts? Visit



TIMBER HOUSE AT 670 UNION STREET by Eric Liftin, AIA, Owner & Principal, MESH Architectures


e have been seeing a lot about mass timber around the world these days. It may seem counter-intuitive to some to “go back” to making buildings — often large ones — out of wood. But these are not your grandparent’s wooden buildings. They are sophisticated, beautiful, buildable, and make a ton of ecological sense. As an architect and some-time real estate developer, I set out to build a mass timber building here at home, in Brooklyn. Timber House is the first mass-timber condominium in New York City, and there are just a few other modern mass-timber buildings of any kind. The primary reason for their scarcity has been city agencies’ opposition. It was incredibly difficult to win DOB approval. That should change as the new building codes take effect this November. We are reminded that changing traditions and conventions is always difficult. But we must change in response to the climate crisis.

Section perspective


The six-story, fourteen-unit building comprises glue-laminated timber columns, beams, and floorplates. (Technically it’s a hybrid structure: the core and lot-line walls are concrete block, per FDNY requirements.) Old-school heavy timber was hewn from old-growth hardwood trees. Today’s mass timber, by contrast, is fabricated from standard dimensional lumber, such as 2x8s, milled from fast-growing pine and fir trees. (You will hear mention of mass timber’s variants: CLT, GLT, DLT, and NLT. There are important differences between these, mainly in how the boards are fastened together, but they are all mass timber).


are unloaded and installed immediately. It’s like assembling a giant piece of Ikea furniture. By contrast, setting up, executing, and cleaning up a concrete pour is a mess. 5.

Top: Several floors constructed. Bottom: Drilling panel.

Mass timber is a sustainable and desirable alternative to steel or concrete for multiple reasons: 1.

It is renewable. Responsibly harvested trees are quickly replenished. Some folks imagine a countryside denuded for its lumber, but the truth is that northern temperate forestry is running a surplus. We can handle a lot more construction lumber demand with sustainable practices.


It sequesters carbon. CO2 that the trees ingest becomes cellulose fiber, which becomes part of a building for many decades to come. The natural life of a forest is roughly carbon neutral, with young trees growing and old trees dying and decomposing. Harvesting and planting sequester carbon from the atmosphere.


Mass timber requires less energy to produce. The embodied energy in steel or concrete is intense, as both of these materials require high-energy metamorphoses. Mass timber does require processing and transportation, but this carbon footprint is much smaller. When a building reaches the end of its life, mass timber is easier to disassemble and dispose of responsibly than concrete, which is generally crushed for (inferior) aggregate.


Mass timber is much cleaner on site and generates less waste. The components show up on a flat-bed truck. They

Mass timber is beautiful. Neuroscientific research has suggested that surrounding oneself with the nonrepeating, fractal patterns of natural materials engages the mind, both stimulating and calming it. We simply feel better in a room of natural wood than a white box. Of course it is always better to build with beautiful materials that inspire the building’s occupants. But beyond this obvious appeal, building beautiful structure saves material: ceilings, columns, and beams remain exposed structure, rather than getting clad in framing and drywall, for example.

What does the mass-timber construction site look like? Mostly like a cleaner steel building site, with carpenters instead of iron workers, or somewhat like a precast concrete building site. Another benefit is that the entire process of mass timber production can be domestic, from growing the trees to milling and forming the members to construction. So mass timber construction is also sustainable in terms of domestic employment and economy. The U.S. is behind Europe in building with mass timber, despite our wealth of forest land that can be responsibly cultivated and harvested. New York City has just this year legalized CLT, the most popular and advanced form of mass timber. The time to encourage building this way is now. When it comes to building, decisions made today will affect the surrounding environment for decades to come. Having been through the process, I can report that, absent the regulatory hurdles, it is just not that difficult. The pre-engineering required to mill the members in advance to fit properly and accommodate penetrations such as ducts is the trickiest part. And this is becoming easier as we become used to digitally modeling our buildings in accurate detail. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 37

Finished spaces. Photo Credit: Matthew Williams

In Timber House the sustainable attitude carries throughout the building. Passive-house-level performance is achieved with generous insulation, air sealing, triple-glazed windows, and energy-recovering ventilation. There is no combustion anywhere in the building. New York City recently passed a “gas ban” that we hope will hasten the sunset of burning fossil fuels in our buildings, despite that bill’s exceptions. Heating is by high-efficiency heat pumps, and cooking is via miraculous induction. Parking spaces in back feature electric charging stations. Solar panels generate electricity on the roof. All of these features are straightforward and affordable to implement today. It is critical to keep burning fossil fuels out of our buildings. Even if electricity today is mostly generated by gas (depending on where you live!), in the very near future electricity will be much more sustainably generated, which again argues that we act now to advance our approaches to construction because such choices will resonate for decades. l


MESH Architectures ( was founded in New York City by Eric Liftin in 1997 as an innovative architectural practice spanning the physical and virtual realms. MESH has designed a wide range of projects, large and small, residential and commercial. The firm believes in integrating the design of built spaces and digital experiences and has designed many websites, sometimes integrating them into architecture. Innovation and sustainability are integral to MESH’s design approach. Over the years MESH has experimented with new technologies such as translucent composites, LED lighting, and most recently, mass timber. In addition to a new mass timber building, the firm recently finished a rammed-earth school in Nepal. MESH embraces sustainable building, promoting passive-house construction. Liftin teaches environmental sustainability at Columbia University. For technological innovation, sustainable practices, and excellence in historic preservation, MESH has received awards from a range of organizations, including the Architectural League, the Cambridge Historical Society, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Interiors Magazine.

PRESERVING TRADITION A BEAUTIFUL RAILING IN A SACRED SETTING The Traditional Railing System is a favorite among architects and designers. Julius Blum’s extensive catalog includes mouldings, matching fittings, posts, spindles, bases, and decorative ornaments. Since 1910, Julius Blum & Co. Inc. continues to provide the highest quality ornamental metal components to the architectural trades.




ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE @ BATTERY PARK CITY by Varun Kohli AIA, LEED AP, Assistant Vice President – Planning & Design, Battery Park City Authority


ackground: The interrelationship between the natural and built environment has come full circle: from a time when architecture was designed to protect us from the weather, in-sync with the natural environment; to a point where the built environment detached itself from its adjacent natural environments, while relying fully on technology of building conditioning systems; to the current urgency of protection from impacts of climate change. We are now racing to re-adapt our built environment to the impacts of changing climate to avoid catastrophic destruction to our urban centers - especially our coastal cities and communities. Battery Park City (BPC), a 92-acre, mixed-use neighborhood on Manhattan’s lower west side, is one of many such coastal communities around the world facing the impact of climate change induced coastal storms and tidal flooding combined with extreme precipitation. While BPC was impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, it escaped the most severe damage from the storm. This will not hold true with the projected future sea level rise (SLR) and frequent severe storms. BPC is preparing for the inevitable future, and in alignment with other Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency projects planned and executed by the City of New York, is designing and building to protect against a 100 year storm in the 2050s. Using data inputs for coastal stillwater elevation from FEMA, recommended SLR rates from the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), and other sources, a coastal model was developed to provide


the design team with design flood elevations (DFEs) that will protect against impact of future storms. BPC consists of over a mile and a half of coastal waterfront with beloved urban parks, plazas, and esplanades that host a variety of public programming and passive uses. It is challenging, to say the least, to disrupt these urban spaces, install flood barrier systems (FBS), and continue to retain the character and quality of these spaces. This challenge, however, can be looked upon as an opportunity to ‘reset’ and re-think the relationship of the built-environment with the natural environment and to realign how we live, work, and play in a post-pandemic world. At BPC, a multi-solution approach has been applied to adapt to and continue to mitigate climate change, while creating healthy livable spaces for their occupants. Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has divided the resiliency work into three separate projects (Fig. 1) including 1) BPC Ball Fields Resiliency, 2) South Battery Park City Resiliency (SBPCR) and 3) North-West Battery Park City Resiliency (NWBPCR) projects. The BPC Ball Fields Resiliency project has been completed as an interim protective measure until the other two permanent barrier systems are in place. As of now, SBPCR has been designed and is slated to begin construction this fall. The larger NWBPCR will be designed and built using the Progressive Design Build (PDB) delivery method, for which the design-build team has been selected.

Fig. 1 – Battery Park City’s three separate resiliency projects

SOUTH BATTERY PARK COASTAL RESILIENCY (SBPCR) PROJECT: The SBPCR project boundary encompasses the northern side of Museum of Jewish Heritage and extends south to include Wagner Park, and Pier A Plaza and east across northern portions of The Battery. It should be noted that the boundaries of resiliency projects are typically defined by the extent of the FBS alignment and termination at high-ground or tie-backs, as defined by the DFEs. The same is the case with SBPCR. The project site, while sprinkled with lush lawn and gardens, a waterfront esplanade, plazas, and shaded streetscapes, contains a key urban oasis that is central to the design of the project - Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park. The existing Wagner Park consists of two expansive lawns with views out to the harbor, intimate garden spaces to the north and south of the lawns, allées of trees that provide shade to pedestrians to the east, and a pavilion structure that hosts a restaurant space, the park’s maintenance space, and public restrooms. One of the guiding design principles has been to retain the key characteristics of the park, the pavilion and Pier A Plaza, while adhering to sustainable design and construction practices. The project design team has adhered to these guidelines, and the process itself has gone through years-long public engagement, largely through the local community board and elected officials, to incorporate suggestions from the public and culminating in a design that not only retains the character of Wagner Park, but is sure to enhance its experiential quality—all while creating protection against a 100-year storm in the 2050s.

Fig. 2 – Existing site plan with proposed flood barrier system alignment shown in blue

The FBS itself takes on various forms as it traverses through the project. In Wagner Park, the FBS is a buried wall under the raised park to keep it concealed, while it is exposed at locations north and south of the park. In order to bury the FBS, the park has been raised approximately 10 feet from its current elevation, creating a new terrain and design problem to solve. At exposed locations, the wall is carefully detailed and designed to respond to its physical context. As an example, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage exterior, the top of FBS is kept transparent to ensure views from the building are not obstructed. At Pier A, it is adorned with Pearl Grey granite to break down the scale of the wall. SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 41

Fig. 3 – S-BPCR Site Plan

While the new Wagner Park brings back the lawn and gardens, it is now substantially higher and requires terrain negotiations using ramps to the west and sloped allees to the east, to provide access to the elevated park. The design has incorporated pathways that adhere to universal access guidelines. The new Pavilion, designed by Thomas Phifer & Partners, is a curvilinear warm colored concrete structure with organic arches and vaults that welcome visitors to circulate underneath and through them. The form of the building retains the ‘gateway’ element of the existing pavilion, opening up to the lawn and magnificent views of the New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty beyond. The structure consists of two wings, the south, accommodating a new restaurant space and the other to the north with flexible community space; with both containing public restrooms at park grade. While similar in footprint and scale to the existing structure, the new pavilion also takes advantage of the grade differential to provide new storage and kitchen spaces with back-of-house access from Battery Place. The new building has negotiated grade differential elegantly, aligned itself with the contextual quality, and provided spaces that meet the need of the community and operations teams. The project never lost sight of sustainability throughout the design process, integrating strategies and technologies to deliver a carbon-neutral building. The pavilion is targeting ‘Zero-Carbon’ certification by International Living Futures Institute (ILFI). The building is electrified and does not have any combustion on site, including for heating, cooling or cooking. This is done to take advantage of a clean electric grid in the future and eliminate carbon emissions. Until then, BPCA is committed to offset all carbon emissions attributable to the building. Embodied carbon in materials is being calculated, disclosed, and mitigated through carbon offsets. It is estimated that the project will reduce embodied carbon by about 35% as compared to similar buildings. In addition, a below-grade cistern will collect stormwater to be re-used for irrigation throughout the neighborhood’s 36 acres of public parkland, In addition to the building certification, the project is projected to get WEDG (Watefront Edge Design Guidelines)


Fig. 4 (top) – Bird’s eye view of proposed elevated Wagner Park with Pavilion. Fig. 5 (Bottom) – Vista of the New York harbor and Statue of Liberty from the Pavilion.

certification by the waterfront alliance. As the project starts construction in the last quarter of 2022, various sustainable construction strategies, such as waste diversion from landfill, have also been put in place. As we prepare a vibrant urban gem in New York City to face the impact of climate change, we continue to design and build sustainably, we continue to enhance the public realm, we continue to adapt to the way we use these spaces, and we continue to harmonize our relationship to the natural environment. At Battery Park City, we will re-establish our relationship to the water’s edge and secure our future. l

DESIGN TEAM ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DESIGN LEAD | AECOM NYC Landscape Studio ENGINEERING | AECOM (Structural, Marine, Coastal Modeling, Permitting) LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT OF RECORD | Siteworks CIVIL ENGINEERING | Magnusson Klemencic Associates ARCHITECTURE (PAVILION) | Thomas Phifer and Partners SUSTAINABILITY | Atelier Ten

At Battery Park City Authority, Varun leads strategic design, planning, and sustainability efforts for the 92 acre development in Lower Manhattan, with a focus on urban resiliency and de-carbonization of existing and new buildings. Prior to joining Battery Park City Authority, Varun led the sustainability team at Buro Happold to draft Battery Park City’s Sustainability Plan and Green Guidelines. For over a decade, he has worked on integrating environmental analytics with design in firms including HOK and SOM as well as his own practice, Merge Studio in New York.

Established in 1968, The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority is a New York State Public Benefit Corporation charged with developing and maintaining a well-balanced, 92-acre community of commercial, residential, retail and open space, including 36 acres of public parks, on Manhattan’s Lower West Side. Through execution of its first-ever strategic plan, BPCA works daily toward being an inclusive community, a safe and climate resilient place, and a vibrant public space, all while demonstrating leadership for the future with a team dedicated to improving service and project delivery. For more info visit:





F Photo Courtesy of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund

XCollaborative Architects recently completed the rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the Orangerie at Pocantico Center, the historic Rockefeller estate located in Tarrytown, New York. The project transforms the former Beaux-Arts style greenhouse on a National Trust Historic Site into an exemplary Net-Zero performing visual art center. The David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center will be open to the public and, provides visitors with a glimpse inside the artistic process, offering performances and exhibits; residencies for visual, performing, and literary artists; and other cultural events. Building on the mission of the Pocantico Center, the new center aligns with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s (RBF’s) commitment to a more just and sustainable world.

HISTORY AND TRANSFORMATION Built in 1908 and designed by architect William Welles Bosworth, the Orangerie was originally conceived as a winter greenhouse capable of sustaining orange trees imported from Europe. The building is modeled after the 17th century Orangerie at the Palace of Versailles in the fashion of other French greenhouses of the time. The monumental scale pavilion is a two-hundred-foot-long symmetrical volume with a twentysix-foot-high ceiling, ten monumental scale arched windows, six skylights, and has doors scaled for the transport of orange trees in carts. Interior steel columns supported the wood roof and masonry structure over a gravel floor without a slab. The PAGE 44 | SEPTEMBER ‘22

building sat largely dormant since the 1930s and had fallen into disrepair. In 1979, Nelson Rockefeller bequeathed the Orangerie to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2019, RBF announced plans to transform the building into a public arts venue with the goal of expanding their Culpeper summer performance program to be year-round and incorporate the visual arts. FXCollaborative’s transformative sustainable design for the new center was informed by the history and original use of the building, its new role as a home for people and the arts, and RBF’s deep concern for the environment. The design reuses as much of the existing structure as possible, expands in an essential and timeless manner consistent with the building’s ethos, establishes new connections to the landscape beyond, and provides flexibility for a variety of arts programming while being deeply sustainable. LEED v4 BD+C Platinum and LEED Zero – Net Zero Energy certifications are anticipated for the project.

PROGRAM AND MATERIALS For simultaneous art programs to occupy the space, the long volume of the Orangerie is subdivided into performance and rehearsal, gathering, gallery, and studio spaces, each of which have their own programmatic requirements. Clerestory glazing above partitions allow the continuous wood ceiling plane and

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

architectural steel grid to run overhead throughout the different spaces, keeping the sense of the original volume intact. In the center of each partition large, glazed sliding doors provide access and views down the main axis, preserving the character of the space. The new architectural steel grid is supported by the existing steel columns and follows the rhythm of the existing structure, accommodating the different infrastructure and lighting needs in each space in one consistent unifying move. Acoustic treatment above the ceiling provides specific tuning for each space. An essential palette of durable healthy materials provides surfaces appropriate for both the production and viewing of art. Drywall backed with FSC certified plywood lines the gallery and studio for flexible art installations and above acoustic drywall absorbs ambient noise. A sprung wood floor designates performance and rehearsal areas from visual arts spaces, which have a durable concrete topping. Flooring is installed over a new insulated reinforced structural slab, which ties the exterior wall to the interior column grid. Concrete with forty to sixty percent fly ash was used throughout. The team prioritized materials with low embodied carbon disclosures, such as those with optimized Environmental Product Declaration certificates, and healthy ingredients certifications SEPTEMBER ‘22 | PAGE 45

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

like the Healthy Product Declaration, Declare, and Cradle to Cradle and reviewed to ensure they supported occupant comfort and health and material transparency. Materials with low emissions were selected for the health and well-being of occupants. Air quality monitoring took place throughout and after construction. This included Co2 monitoring and air quality testing before occupancy.

ACHIEVING NET ZERO To achieve the goal of Net-Zero energy, the design team reduced energy loads and optimized energy production. Preserving masonry walls was non-negotiable in order to limit the embodied carbon of the rehabilitation and to comply with landmark requirements of the historic building. The envelope required a full rehabilitation on the exterior and an entirely new interior liner on all six sides to meet energy efficiency goals and programmatic needs.


The team used energy modelling to test the effectiveness of various envelope improvements. The largest benefit comes from the addition of insulation and smart vapor retarder on the interior side of the terracotta block wall. The team replicated the existing monumental arched single glazed divided lite windows, which were in disrepair, in FSC certified Sapele Mahogany with simulated divided lites to increase thermal insulation and maintain operability for occupant comfort. After repairing the wood roof structure, the team added mineral wool insulation into the joist cavities on the interior, followed by a smart vapor retarder. At the exterior side, they built up poly-iso insulation board and new roofing. Laylights were added beneath the historic pyramidal skylights for increased performance. The addition of a new minimal vestibule with bird-friendly glazing enhanced thermal control and protected natural species. Together, these envelope enhancements increased the energy efficiency while maintaining the historic character of the façade. The space is equipped with new all-electric MEP systems including high efficiency variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems and dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) with energy recovery. The efficient design, achieving more than 50% reduction compared to LEED v4 baseline, helps the project reduce the operational energy, operational carbon, and eventually – greenhouse gas emissions. New mechanical equipment is in an expansion of the existing below grade cellar, preserving the proportions and hierarchy of the exterior and allowing for under slab air delivery that maintains the open and light filled interior volume. The building is powered entirely by an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels on the south side of the building, which generate more power than the building uses.

EXPANSION AND CONNECTION TO THE SITE The south facade was originally a blank wall shielding the estate from a trainline that ran adjacent to the building. To support the arts program housed in the main volume of the

Orangerie, a smaller new pavilion is positioned closely to the south façade on top of a newly established plinth. Above the pavilion, a one hundred sixty-foot-long trellis stretches across the southern exposure embracing the landscape beyond while shading the outdoor terrace space below. A new forty-footwide proscenium opening with insulated operable pivot doors animates the terrace, allowing for outdoor performances and connection to nature. Circulation from the north entry vestibule is extended through the support pavilion establishing access and views south to the landscape. The expansion is a composition of elements that respect the rhythm and proportion of the Orangerie. No longer a “back,” the expansion makes inspiring connections to the natural setting, putting the sustainable energy and site features on display for artists and visitors alike. The project is rooted in resiliency, and its impact on the existing site has been minimized through various strategies. The PV array is uniquely positioned above a raingarden that captures one hundred percent of run off from the site, managing storm water and facilitating habitat restoration. Supporting the con-

scious use of water, native plantings that do not require permanent irrigation were used throughout the area and around the PVs. Integrating two sustainable functions into one area saves space while softening the view of the PVs allowing them to be a celebrated part of the landscape, pathways circumnavigate the building and PV landscape for visitors to experience these features.

CONCLUSION The energy performance of the building will be carefully tracked after construction to verify the design operates as intended – Net Zero energy. Further, the design team will pursue LEED Zero Energy certification to formalize the achievement after a year of operation and data collection. The design illustrates that deep sustainable design is very compatible with adaptive reuse and the energy demands of performing arts programs while maintaining a strong relationship to the exterior landscape. As described by Senior Partner Sylvia Smith, the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center is a “laboratory for creative production and a model for sustainable transformation.” l

Brandon Massey, AIA, LEED GA, is a Senior Associate at FXCollaborative, a New York City-based architecture, interiors, and planning design firm. Working on a diverse range of project types, Brandon collaborates with design teams, consultants, and clients to craft projects from initial ideas to construction. In early project phases, he produces design packages and competition entries instrumental in helping institutions and developers see their projects’ full potential. Brandon holds a B.Arch from Rhode Island School of Design and serves as a mentor to high school students through the ACE Mentor Program. Jais Kwon, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, is an Associate at FXCollaborative, a New York City-based architecture, interiors, and planning design firm. As a Sustainable Design Specialist, Jais works with design teams to incorporate sustainable design elements and ideas into projects. Understanding the importance of environmentally conscious building, Jais joins the design team early in the design process to achieve a high standard of building performance. Using sophisticated environmental modeling and analysis tools, paired with new and innovative building techniques, she creates optimized design scenarios across scales and typologies. Jais holds a M.S. in Environmental Building Design from University of Pennsylvania and a B.Arch from Chung-Ang University in Korea. She is an active member of the AIANY Committee on the Environment and the Urban Green Council’s Emerging Professionals Committee.


SEPTEMBER ‘22 ARCHITECTURE NEW YORK STATE is a quarterly publication developed by AIA New York State, 50 State Street, Albany, NY 12207

For questions, comments and editorial content ideas, contact Robin Styles-Lopez, Director of Communications at or 518.449.3334.