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Design trends for the foreseeable future.

Design trends for the foreseeable future

New York has magnificent buildings. New York has ugly buildings. Many of our structures need total facelifts. Numerous structures are in need of restoration. The majority of our buildings are energy inefficient as a result of leaking facades and wasteful heating and cooling.

The next two to four years are going to be tough times in the real estate industry. Few new residential structures and even fewer commercial structures will be started in this period. Rents are going to come down. The competition among owners and brokers will be sharper than ever and at times nasty.

This is not to say that New York is going down the tubes; New York is here to stay and will remain viable as a great metropolis - assuming a balance of services are maintained, we are not overtaxed, and we do not lose a large number of companies leaving the city.

What does this mean that the quality of for residential and years will not turn costs. Much of New and 1960's is tired for design and construction? I am hopeful design, which has been steadily improving commercial buildings during the recent backward because of limited construction York's architecture built in the 1950's and the owners of those structures realize that renovations will be imperative if these buildings are to be competitive with better buildings recently completed in the 1980's. Therefore the major trend in design and construction will be renovations. Some lobbies will be totally gutted and rebuilt while other lobbies will become cosmetically enhanced. Those pedestrian structures with their ubiquitous pitted aluminum curtain walls will get stripped like snakes losing their skins, and will be reclad with new energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing facades.

The older masonry buildings of the 1920's and 1930's which still maintain a degree of richness will hopefully be manicured with sensitive restoration, strengthening the positive elements and eliminating sinful alterations which occurred as a result of insensitive surgery. If a building has good bones it shouldn't be radically altered.

Owners today are very aware that tenants possess a much higher sensitivity to image and aesthetics than years past. Energy costs and available power to meet today's equipment demands are also important considerations in negotiations for both lease renewals and new leases.

Each and every renovation will be different. Budgets will vary as will opportunities for aesthetic enrichment. Here are a few examples.

Dakota Realty, Inc. approached us with a small building at 351 West 52nd Street which was a run down loft building with 5,000-square-foot floor areas. The original facade was a hodge-podge of glassblock, aluminum and steel windows. The available construction budget was extremely low. We installed new windows reconfiguring the shape to add visual interest to the facade. Decorative metal bands colored red were added at the sill lines. Small narrow operable casement windows, provide ventilation and window cleaning access. The basic facade was patched and painted a warm beige color.

At 505 Park Avenue, at the corner of 59th Street, a horizontal brick banded structure with a rounded corner was in poor repair. We decided to replace all of the operable hopper windows with new single-light casement units operable for both cleaning and ventilation. Two tones of glass were used to provide visual interest. The brick was patched, pointed, repaired, and cleaned. In this structure we decided to support and reinforce the building's architectural lines. The confusing architecture at the street level and second floor was completely renovated to create a new two story lobby, new storefronts, and a building base compatible with the upper part of the structure.

At 575 Lexington Ave., Koeppel & Koeppel owned the Grolier Building which was frequently referred to as the ugliest building in America. Brokers shied away from this building, and existing tenants were fleeing. The yellow anodized hideous facade was truly an eyesore in the community.

It was decided to completely cover this unsightly facade of poorly proportioned windows and rather ugly spandrel panels with an entirely new curtain wall designed with large frames. The ugly yellow brick on the core facade was repainted a metallic bronze color to match the aluminum. Owners opted to renovate using operable windows for convenient tenant ventilation. All new storefronts and a new lobby were constructed using multi-colored marble. Tenant corridors and an elevator modernization was also included. Upon completion of the renovation, this structure literally overnight became a friendly new neighbor to the community. The hideous yellowish gold was gone, and a richly textured and dignified facade with a medium bronze hue subtly entered the community. Nearby owners and tenants applauded, while potential new tenants began flocking to this prime location.

Since completion of this project, building ownership has leased 75,000 square feet in what is surely to be described as one of New York's worst real estate markets. This project is a prime example of how a hideous structure can be transformed into a new and competitive real estate enterprise. The architectural contribution to the community is self evident. Ugly real estate was transformed into aesthetically pleasing and economically viable real estate.

Stephen Ross, president of The Related Companies, engaged our firm to renovate still another Sylvan Bien building which had a tired and gloomy facade of pitted aluminum and ugly spandrel panels. In this installation we gave the owners alternative designs to select from, and they chose a multi-colored horizontally banded state of the art glass, silicone, and aluminum facade. The new cladding was bolted to the original aluminum vertical mullions and after the building was completely sealed, the old windows were removed from the interior. In this instance, the owners decided to reclad with all fixed glass. A new two-story lobby was constructed by removing a portion of the second floor slab and the dated original luminous ceiling and terrazzo floor was replaced with landscaping and marble. All new bronze metal storefronts and granite clad columns at the street level enhanced renting for all ground level tenants. The lobby design was the only New York recipient of the 1990 Tucker Award.

During the last several years our firm has completed over 40 lobbies for both renovation and new buildings. Budgets varied from small cosmetic details to major redesign. Buildings with tired old lobbies turn off prospective tenants. Thus we will continue to see numerous renovations to lobbies.

Other major renovation projects recently completed by our firm include the complete renovation of the Playboy Club on East 59th Street into the United States Headquarters of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation. 100 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 450 West 33rd Street, 888 Seventh Avenue, 888 Eighth Avenue, and 1633 Broadway were among some of the other completed projects. Williams Real Estate under the guidance of Jerome Cohen engaged us to restore and renovate 57 West 57th Street which is currently under construction. The Anti Defamation League Foundation at 823 United Nations Plaza is also currently under construction. Our newest assignment for Atco Properties & Management will be a total facelift of the Cunard Building at 555 Fifth Avenue.

In conclusion, there are three primary goals which our firm strives for: (1) spend the minimum amount of the owner's funds to achieve maximum image and practicality, (2) when dealing with an ugly structure, cover it up and make a maximum impression, and (3) when dealing with a building which still has richness, make it appear that you were never there; build and strengthen its merits.

During the renovation process, the architect must be ever more responsible in assisting the owner with alternative methods of achieving the image makeover. Because of escalating taxes and dropping rents, owners will have less money to implement needed changes. Those architects who fight to be creative and watch the owner's money will be heros. This goal has always been our firm's basic guideline.

PHOTO : 625 Madison Avenue before renovations.

PHOTO : 625 Madison Avenue after renovations.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Property Improvement Supplement
Author:Scutt, Der
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 16, 1991
Words:1318
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