BEST PRACTICES IN MANAGING EXTERIOR
The Landmarks Conservancy is a private not-for-profit organization
devoted to promoting the preservation and restoration of historic buildings
and historic districts in our city. The resources of the Conservancy include
information on engineers and architects skilled in restoration and contractors
adept at carrying out this delicate work. An invaluable resource for owners
of buildings in historic districts and all others interested in the finest
of restoration and maintenance for their buildings, the Conservancy administers
revolving loan funds and can provide advice and technical assistance on
restoration questions and the requirements of New York City Landmark law.
The Conservancy can be reached by calling (212) 995-5260.
Since the spring of 1999, CNYC and the Landmarks Conservancy have joined
to present a series of seminars for cooperatives and condominiums on building
restoration and preservation. Alex Herrera, Director of Technical Services
at the Conservancy, is the inspiration behind the series and the moderator
of these informative seminars.
On Wednesday, September 20th, Mr. Herrera led a presentation entitled
Best Practices in Managing Your Exterior Restoration Project. Architect
Osvaldo Bertollini, of the firm of Ross & Bertolini, and Carl Culbreth,
principal of the restoration contracting firm, Preserv, provided insightful
guidelines for successful restoration, with slides clearly illustrating
what can be encountered along the way. The essence of their message is
that unlike cars or people, buildings, with proper maintenance and system
upgrades, can live on and on.
An architect himself, Alex Herrera suggested that all buildings should
have plans for ongoing maintenance of the building envelope that include
attention to preserving decorative features. He noted that many buildings
today have suffered long years of neglect and therefore require major
restoration. This is where the major problems arise. But excellent architects
and contractors can resolve these problems. Many innovative materials
and procedures can help make the restoration a success.
Contractor Carl Culbreth described materials that can inexpensively reproduce
architectural features lost to wind and weather. Many of these structural
substitutes are much lighter in weight and easier to maintain than the
originals, and skilled contractors can ensure that they appear identical
to the original elements. His slide presentation was convincing and impressive.
The speakers stressed the importance of understanding what the issues
are and clearly communicating to building residents what disruption is
likely to occur. Generous allowance must be made for the unpredictability
factor, since most problems are behind walls. Noting that buildings often
object to recommendations of multiple probes prior to construction, the
speakers pointed out that this careful preparation can help architects
zero in on the hidden problems and enable them to better predict the full
scope of work likely to be necessary. Nevertheless, Mr. Culbreth suggested
that contracts include unit prices on items (e.g., lintels) which may
or may not need replacement as work progresses.
Boards were advised to take a hands-on approach to the complexities of
building restoration, hiring knowledgeable professionals to guide them,
but also being sure to understand the professional's recommendations so
that when the unforeseen occurs, the appropriate board committee will
understand the problem and the suggested solution. Chief among these professionals
is the architect, the board's bridge and translator to the understanding
of their building and to the other professionals who will help keep it
in peak condition.
THE ROLE OF AN ARCHITECT
Osvaldo Bertolini provided a wonderful outline of the difference between
engineers and architects, a question raised regularly by CNYC members.
Engineers are specialists while architects are generalists. The architect
is oriented to a team approach, frequently bringing to the project additional
resources such as consultants, engineers, historians and manufacturers
of special materials to help resolve problems most efficiently.
Architects present the big picture, explained Mr. Bertolini. they offer
an organized approach to the building categorizing the work to be done
into required repairs, long-term maintenance and esthetic options. The
available budget and the will of the client will dictate how much of the
recommended work will be done.
Your architect can provide quality control before, during and after the
construction process. Architects can help you by overseeing the bidding
process, scheduling site visits to check on the work, providing periodic
progress reports, and authorizing change orders and payments. The architect
will help with the selection and review of materials and will interface
with government agencies on your behalf, securing appropriate permits
and completing all requisite filings. Working with your building over
time, your architect develops a familiarity with its issues and becomes
an increasingly valuable advisor, "a second set of eyes watching over
Alex Herrera continues to help CNYC members understand building restoration
issues. At CNYC's 20th Annual Housing Conference on November 12th, he
will present a session on Living with Landmarking. For details, click