Towards 80×50: Row House Retrofit

The story of New York City’s first Passive House reveals the innate economic and environmental opportunities that can be realized through elegant design. Tighthouse is a distinct example of the benefits of Passive House Certification. Passive House, originally a German design philosophy, focuses on the construction of an extremely insulated and airtight structure that retains cooling in summer and heating in winter. Ultimately, a Passive House uses upwards of 75% less energy than a traditional building, while adding little or no cost premium to the construction process. As New York strives to meet its ambitious 80 x 50 carbon reduction goals, Tighthouse is worth a closer look. Continue reading “Towards 80×50: Row House Retrofit”

Historic Buildings and Districts at Risk

On Earth Day 2015 (04.22.15), the AIANY Historic Buildings and Design for Risk and Reconstruction (DfRR) Committees co-hosted “Historic Buildings and Districts at Risk,” focused on landmarks and districts within designated zones of risk in New York City. The event, moderated by DfRR Co-chair Illya Azaroff, AIA, was a panel presentation and discussion about newly-introduced regulations and policies that influence city’s extensive assortment of historic structures. As a coastal city, New York is increasingly susceptible to a range of water-based extreme weather events, epitomized by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. New York’s landmark districts, and landmarks in particular, embody the city’s unique architectural, aesthetic, and cultural heritage. As humanity continues to alter the Earth’s natural balances, many of these unique historical and cultural neighborhoods and structures are at increased risk of extreme weather events. The threat of intensified coastal weather creates a new set of challenges for New York’s landmarks, and requires a delicate balance between contemporary resilient design strategies and traditional preservation methodologies. As the panel revealed, New York is employing a cooperative interagency strategy to both preserve its landmarks and adapt to the challenges of our changing climate. Continue reading “Historic Buildings and Districts at Risk”

Energy Efficiency’s Human Dimension

People are the key to energy-efficient buildings. As revealed in the 07.16.14 “Shifting Behavior” event, organized by the AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE), a truly energy-efficient building actively engages its occupants. North Americans now spend 90% or more of their time indoors, and much of the remaining travelling between buildings. The built environment is thus crucial to limiting humanity’s negative environmental impact, but also presents a number of economic opportunities.

Energy conservation can benefit a building’s bottom line through reduced energy expenditure and promote an ethic of environmental conservation through reduced demand for fossil fuels. The technologies and passive design strategies employed in certification systems, such as Passive House, have brought energy-efficient structures into the mainstream at prices that rival conventional construction; however, people will always be instrumental in a building’s success. Some estimates suggest that occupant behavior can influence energy usage by as much as 30 to 50% of overall consumption. As a result, strategies that encourage occupant-driven energy conservation are among the best tools designers have in ensuring buildings and communities remain productive, sustainable, and resilient. Continue reading “Energy Efficiency’s Human Dimension”

The Queensway – A Bright Path to New York’s Future

On 7.17.14, the Center for Architecture opened its doors to the “QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm” exhibition. The installation’s opening and symposium two days later, organized by AIANY’s Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), reaffirms the significant opportunity a 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railway presents for both Queens and the City of New York. ENYA, which hosts a biennial design ideas competition focused on elevating the public realm, is in full support of the collective efforts of the Friends of The QueensWay community organization and the Trust for Public Land in the development of the QueensWay linear park. Through the adaptive reuse of an extant railway, the QueensWay is poised to become a catalyst for economic growth, environmental stewardship, and community development within Central Queens. ENYA’s Queensway Connection: Elevating the Public Realm Competition further substantiates this opportunity to transform a blighted, disused structure into a civic amenity and an iconic park. Continue reading “The Queensway – A Bright Path to New York’s Future”

Extreme Weather, Recovery and New York’s Future

On 6.11.14 the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) hosted Daniel Zarrilli, PE, to update the design community on New York’s progress in becoming a more resilient city. Zarrilli, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and acting director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, leads the city’s efforts to confront the realities of extreme weather events intensified by climate change. Through strategies such as strengthening coastal protections, upgrading buildings, improving infrastructure, and encouraging the design of safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, Zarrilli and his departments have helped shape a New York increasingly capable of addressing future environmental events. Zarrilli, who has served under both the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations, plays a key role in crafting innovative strategies for some of New York’s most challenging issues. His twin responsibilities place him at the center of New York’s sustainability and resiliency agendas, blending the two into a single approach to combat future extreme weather events. Two key themes emerged: the costs of inactivity provide a direct economic impetus for acting against the impacts of extreme weather, and a blended approach of design strategies that combines multiple layers of defense is required to ensure New York’s future success. Continue reading “Extreme Weather, Recovery and New York’s Future”

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Road to Resilience

On 5.20.14 the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) hosted Samuel Carter, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Associate Director for Resilience. Carter, who is also currently co-leading the Design and Politics studio at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, presented a wealth of information regarding the Foundation’s involvement in shaping and guiding the emerging paradigm of resilient design. Since its inception the Rockefeller Foundation has played a fundamental role in funding and supporting influential urban theorists. Jane Jacobs, unquestionably one of the 20th century’s most significant urban voices, wrote the 1961 The Death and Life of Great American Cities after being awarded a grant to examine the qualities of a successful city. The Foundation’s work continues to shape the field of contemporary urban design, particularly through a variety of resilience-based initiatives. Continue reading “The Rockefeller Foundation and the Road to Resilience”

Henk Ovink: A Dutch Resiliency Perspective

On Earth Day, 4.22.14, AIANY and the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) hosted Henk Ovink, former Acting Director-General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs for the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and current senior advisor to U.S. Housing and Urban Design Secretary Shaun Donovan, Hon. AIANY. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Ovink emerged as a central figure in shaping the future of the entire region affected by the storm by leading the HUD Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce. As a nation, the Netherlands has formally addressed issues of flood prevention and protection for more than 900 years. Through Water Boards, a system of regional water authorities introduced in the 13th century, formerly separated communities have worked together to address regionalized environmental issues associated with water management. Today, nearly 300 Water Boards actively continue their ancestors’ work by crafting collaborative strategies for water management and extreme weather adaptation throughout the Netherlands. While “resilient” design strategies have become increasingly significant in the wake of Sandy, Ovink has leveraged his experience to introduce a new era of holistic and collaborative responses to extreme water events intensified by climate change. Continue reading “Henk Ovink: A Dutch Resiliency Perspective”

New York City’s Waterfront: Three Case Studies in Contemporary Resilient Design

New York has always been a city that celebrates its waterfront. But, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Yorkers, particularly those who reside along the city’s 520 miles of coastline, have become acutely aware of the impacts of rising water levels and storm surges. According to the most recent FEMA maps, more than 400,000 New Yorkers currently live within the 100-year floodplain. Furthermore, the Bloomberg Administration’s 2013 Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) projects that by 2050 an additional 400,000 New Yorkers will live within flood-susceptible areas. Sandy’s toll, 43 lives lost and $19.5 billion in damages according to the SIRR, is a morbid reminder of the outcome of such events. In post-Sandy New York, waterfront development presents a distinct opportunity to illustrate effective resilient design techniques that elegantly respond to the challenges the city will face in the future. Continue reading “New York City’s Waterfront: Three Case Studies in Contemporary Resilient Design”

New York City Resiliency: Explorations of an Emerging Design Paradigm

On 10.21.14, an interdisciplinary panel representing both the public and private sectors within the design community met to discuss the significance of resiliency in contemporary planning and design. Co-sponsored by the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction (DfRR) and the AIANY Marketing and Communications Committees, “The 21st-Century Practice: Marketing Resiliency Planning and Design” ambitiously attempted to define an ethos which has quickly become one of New York’s central design and planning considerations. The panelists approached the concept of resiliency from a distinctly multidisciplinary focus. Focusing particularly on a New York point perspective, moderator John Fontillas, AIA, LEED AP, a partner at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, sought to explore the concept of resiliency in the context of “the art of the possible.” Continue reading “New York City Resiliency: Explorations of an Emerging Design Paradigm”

Multidisciplinary Design and Ecology as Drivers of Resilient Urban Infrastructure

In a presentation on 01.10.14, organized by the AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Susannah Drake, ASLA, AIA, founding principal of dlandstudio architecture + landscape, explored the resiliency of NYC’s infrastructure. As both a registered architect and a landscape architect, Drake’s work is particularly concerned with “urban ecological” infrastructure and, more generally, with achieving a fruitful balance between the urban and the natural. dlandstudio takes an integrated approach where collaboration amongst a variety of disciplines, from architecture to landscape architecture, ecology, scientific research, sculpture, planning, and engineering, is a vital component of design. Multidisciplinarity serves as the focal point of Drake’s design philosophy and is evident throughout dlandstudio’s contemporary project portfolio. Drake and her colleagues seek to redefine the divisions between buildings, infrastructure, and ecology to realize a holistic urban ecosystem of related parts. Such an approach is particularly relevant today, when a city’s resiliency and its ability to adapt to changing conditions on a variety of social, economic, and environmental scales is of paramount importance. Drake’s presentation addressed two areas of concern for the contemporary urban environment: stormwater management and greenspace optimization, both of which are crucial in enabling cities to adapt to the impacts of global climate change and respond to the effects of increasingly extreme weather events. Continue reading “Multidisciplinary Design and Ecology as Drivers of Resilient Urban Infrastructure”