Bamboo Scaffold in Hong Kong

Almost all of the tall and ultra-modern skyscrapers (whether it is a shopping mall or fancy hotels) in Hong Kong are built with bamboo scaffolds! Despite the modern materials they use to build the buildings in the metropolitan area of Hong Kong, the most basic and ancient way of scaffolding is still used.  


Bamboo scaffolding has been used since the building of Great Wall of China. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, making it a sustainable resource in the construction industry. Bamboo has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a specific tensile strength that even rivals steel!


—By Febe Chong


Pause for Winter


The seasons change,

Every year,

Right before our eyes.

Colors morph week to week,

And still the end comes as a surprise.

The work begins,

With subtle progress week to week.

And just as the seasons change,

Every year.

The construction pauses for the winter.


1056 Fifth Avenue, where we are replacing terrace railings at this landmarked building. It has quite the spectacular view and I have been documenting the foliage alongside the progress since July.

-Eri Semerzakis


Weird cats of Queens

Perhaps you have found yourself walking near the corner of 69th Street along Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens, or were stuck in slow moving traffic there; glanced over to the West away from the cemeteries, and found yourself looking at a series of Tim-Burtonish carved cats atop a stone faced car repair shop. Well congratulations - you have just remarked the Frank T. Lang Building. Built in 1904 by the eponymous Mr. Lang a German immigrant stone mason as a show-piece and house his mausoleum and monument fabrication work shops and business offices right in the heart of the cemetery belt, it operated as such until 1946. Subsequently it housed a number of knitting mills and auto-repair shops. I encourage you to take a trip to the Middle Village end (AKA the cool end !) of the M train, a very nice ride on an elevated track, step out of the Metropolitan Avenue Station, turn right and stroll on a few blocks. (There’s an Arby’s at a strip mall across the way if you get hungry and a taxidermy shop on the next block if you need a last minute present too).


This handsome building is faced with what appears seam faced granite AKA Plymouth Granite, quarried in South Weymouth Massachusetts; also the birth place, quarry if you will, of CTA Partner Mr. Dan Allen. Small world.

by Frank Scanlon


It's about visualization not glamour

A quick internet search defines Architect as “a person who designs buildings” or more vaguely, and perhaps more appropriately, as “a person who is responsible for inventing or realizing a particular idea or project.” More often our work is less about designing from scratch and more about realizing an idea within the confines of what already is… and it is not always as glamorous as one might expect. For example, an architect can enter into this musty, old crawl space and still be able to visualize, plan, and realize a new private elevator for a luxury apartment above, built into an existing shaft that was cut off, altered, and abandoned long ago. 


by Emily Barr

20th Century Worship

Many ancient stained glass windows contain an image of the host church in them.  This window at St. Paul’s in the Village of Flatbush is no exception.  There's St. Paul's but in this case accompanied by an airplane and many recognizable Brooklyn buildings dating this beauty from the middle of the 20th Century.

by Dan Allen


Scalable, Efficient - Retrofit Solutions Under Development

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently awarded the first six Energiesprong-style retrofits. This announcement comes as an exciting new development to last year’s article in Passive House Buildings about NY State’s planned implementation of the burgeoning retrofit style that aims to create standardized, scalable, deep energy-efficient retrofit solutions.

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Mismatched Wallpaper Mystery

At 211 Warren Street in Hudson New York we are finally under construction on our first Passive House. 


Uncovered during demolition we found these boards supporting the center of the house. They are covered with mismatched wallpaper, possibly dating to the early 1800s. Is it possible that these boards were taken from another house to build this one?


-by Craig Tooman