One Does Want a Hint of Color

I like color. And not just regular color, but bold color, bright color, pastel color. I’ve had hair that might be best described as “watermelon eleganza,” my wardrobe’s color palette suggests I’m ready year-round for an Easter egg hunt (with me dressed as the Easter egg), and I was once told that I looked like the interior design from Golden Girls. Kinder words have truly never been spoken, so needless to say I was fainting-chaise-bound for a solid month after that compliment.


As such, I’m always delighted whenever I come across a kindred spirit (aesthetically speaking) for work, so when I encountered this lobby during a site visit a few weeks ago, it quite obviously spoke to me. (“You? Love this lobby? Well color me shocked,” said nobody ever.) My point is that for someone who loves color as much as me, it’s odd to then find myself working with architects, what with their love of black and all. Sure, black is a color, too, but where’s the fun in that?

Seriously, it’s like Nathan Lane said in The Birdcage: “One does want a hint of color.” I’m just not sure what he meant by “hint”…



by Ben Horner


micro - micro - micro - microscopy

Much like studying the rings of a tree, microscopy allows us to learn the history of a building through tiny pant, mortar, plaster, render and coating samples.  The analysis of these samples are used to document alterations to historic buildings, identify historic paint colors, and develop conservation treatments.



The perks of almost flying...

For architects that are regularly on construction sites, closely involved with the implementation of the exterior repairs that we designed, there is a lot of noise, a lot of dust and a lot of stained clothes.

But  then, there is also the "immensity" of this: hanging from scaffolds and trailing roof tops, almost flying, and taking in New York City like a hawk.


-Ana Ribeiro


New York is Weird:


Working in New York is weird. Sometimes during a site visit you see a lion with makeup on a fence, other times you see a contractor trying to dry 100+ year old brick outside with a heater. And then there are the walls built on air. All in the name of preserving this old city. 





by Amanda Mullen


A Cat Sanctuary

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I went to Roosevelt Island because I heard that the abandoned smallpox hospital is currently a cat sanctuary. I did not see one cat! I did however enjoy the beautiful views and a ride on the Tram.   


The Renwick Smallpox Hospital was designed by the architect James Renwick, Jr. Though formally trained as an engineer, he became a self-taught architect by the age of 25.


In 1976, the building was designated a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.




When all of these iterations are collaged together it is hard to notice the small differences, the shifts of spaces, the changes in circulation and the movements of the outside wall. They all look similar, like a repeated idea over and over, but each shift is significant is some way. It moves the design forward or into a new direction, you don’t know exactly where you’re going in each iteration, but it gets you somewhere. Like trial and error, design is a development of iterations, a series of thoughts affecting the next.



-by Alexis Richbart


Highly recommend taking a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard (plus AIA credits people!)

The Navy Yard once employed 70,000 workers, both naval and civilian, building military vessels until 1966. It still operates today as a center for industrial development, and with an added consideration for sustainability (in the design of Building 92, open to the public - a LEED Platinum rated building), in the industries growing there (technology, whiskey distillery, The Grange - the largest rooftop garden in NYC), and engaging with the public to revitalize the idea of industry as a meaningful career path for young adults. 

At the height of its operation, 10,000 women worked at the Navy Yard. Half of those women were welders, the other half worked in administrative positions. Below is a photograph of a group of women leaving the Sand Street exit after their shift (dated from WWII). The woman in the middle is carrying a bottle of milk. Milk was known to dilute the metallic taste welders would get from working. 

Every Friday, all 70,000 workers were paid from the Paymaster’s Building. To alleviate the congestion of that many people filing in to be paid, a trolley car drove around to pay some employees.


Today the building, a distillery, looks like this:





by Alanna Jaworski


Range of View

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As a relative newcomer to the city, I was fascinated by all the things one could see on a day to day basis.  All the people, places and general busy-ness going on in the city provides endless material for observation.  Climbing on to the roof of a building and peering down on the city from above provides one with an even more radical perspective on city life.  Your range of view is wider and what you see increases by 100 fold.  

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Now, what if I lived perched on the parapet of a building since 1977 like this owl?  Imagine what it has seen, and how the city it spends its life observing has changed before its very eyes.


-by Augustus Dane 


Ten Pyramids

Everyone remembered them. Ten angular pyramids, each towering ten feet above the endemic zoning setbacks that define this vertical factory district. Back in 1928, the mechanized Art Deco style contrasted with the soft fur coats manufactured under their guard.


Everyone remembered how they had been ignobly removed in some desperate and impecunious past, their severed stumps cauterized with mastic and sealed with a copper band-aid. They were leaking. It must have been leaks. Six of them had been spared (who knows why?), six halcyon reminders reflecting in the blue glass of cheap hotels. The result is a disappointing farrago; some setbacks with pyramids and some without. It would be easy to replicate the survivors and restore the facade to its original appearance. A wrong would be righted.

But they were never there. Looking closely at Henry Oser’s old, smudgy drawings it is clear that some things have changed, but not the pyramids. He meant to put them on some floors and not others. Was he inspired? Inconsistent? On a budget? There is a reason everyone remembered the pyramids where there are none; they look like they’re missing. Just to be sure, we pried off a copper band-aid. Underneath was glazed terra cotta; it never had another piece on top. 

Everyone wants to remember them. To remember how they were ignobly removed. Had the original drawings been destroyed, the microfiche illegible, or the building records misfiled in a bureaucratic black hole, we would have ‘restored’ the ten ‘missing’ pyramids. We would have congratulated ourselves for a job well done, for completing a building comprised by time. However, thanks to an assiduous archivist and diligent researcher it was hard to convince ourselves that we could put the pyramids back, or rather that we should add new ones where there had never been any. The distinction is important because it defines our intention. In this case, intention transforms the very same materials from historic preservation to historicist imitation. The intention behind design, however, is often invisible. One has to know the story. One has to remember them, the mythical pyramids, to remember how they were ignobly removed, and to remember how they were never there.



-by Adam Kaleb Poole