Thoughts on the Restoration of Notre Dame

After last week’s tragic fire at Notre Dame, the conversation quickly turned to questions about restoring the famous cathedral. As a prominent member of the historic preservation community and CTA’s preservation specialist, our very own Daniel Allen was asked to weigh in on this important conversation, and we have collected his interviews here.

From New York One:

And Inside Edition:

An interview on KNX InDepth (the segment begins at the 26:50 mark):

And another with KCBS in San Francisco:


Grand Central Park

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One of the best-known works of architecture in New York City is Grand Central Terminal. Most New Yorkers and many tourists have marveled at it more than once, but did you know it left a mark on the Bronx as well? More specifically in Van Cortlandt Park! 

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When deciding what materials to use, much thought was given to what would stand the test of time and weather. Nineteen stone samples were placed in Van Cortlandt Park in 1905 to test how well the different materials would hold up to the elements.

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The stones are located off one of the back paths in the park, and are being slowly reclaimed by nature.

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-by Monica Barraclough

The Spite Building

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Ever wonder why there is a small notch in the Herald Square Macy’s building? When Macy’s announced their plans to build the worlds largest store in the early 1900s, the small corner building was snapped up for an astronomical sum of money. Referred to as the “Million Dollar Corner”, the purchaser was suspected to have been working on behalf of a rival department store company, who at the time had the world’s largest store. Macy’s shrugged it off and proceeded to build around the little building, hence the notch you see today. 

-by Katie Ipcar


Beauty To Take You Anywhere

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Sometimes beauty hides in the most unrecognizable places: like in an underground station, where hundreds of people speed walk at rush hour every day, barely even making eye-contact. 

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The new design of the walls at the 28th Street 6 subway station brought a breath of fresh air and elegance to the usually smelly and dirty subway commute. I stumbled upon this gem a couple of weeks after its re-opening, and instantly understood what the artist was trying to transmit. With just a quick glimpse at the flowers, my mind went from thinking about the freezing temperatures and the rush of the city, to a warm and quiet respite. Needless to say, it did not last long, as I was soon on one of the loud and fluorescent lit subway cars, heading to site to get on with my day.

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It is incredible that in the middle of an immense city made of concrete and steel, a cold and solid mosaic tile can transport us to a warm and fresh space. Sometimes you only need your eyes and your imagination to feel like you are in a different place.

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-by Laura Blanco-Moreno


Architectus Luden


Project Name: “Architectus Luden (Latin for “Architect at Play”)

Project Address: Somewhere in Catskills, NY

Category: Design, New Build, Sustainable, Temporary Housing

Owner Name: Howard Yoon

Project Reference: The crew who purchased Asaf’s Pitcher at the Spring of Hope Silent Auction 2017

Unique Technique & Methods: Sheer will power and determination

Estimated Budget: $40.00

Actual Budget: $31.90

Project Schedule: 

Project Start Date: October 28, 2014

Design Contract Completion Date: December 31, 2014

Design Actual Completion Date: February 11, 2015

Construction Contract Completion Date: February 15, 2015

Construction Actual Completion Date: February 14, 2015

Duration of Construction: One (1) Calendar Day

MWBE Utilization Goals:

GOAL: 100%

Achieved: Technically 0% due to failure to provide MWBE Certificate

Sub-Consultant Utilization Percentage: 0%


Maps That Paint a Story

I was inspired by a book I picked up at a coffee shop. “Mapping Manhattan, a Love (and sometimes hate) Story in Maps” written by Becky Cooper. This particular afternoon I sat with co-workers as we awaited on an engineer to arrive on site, and I stopped to think how well this book told the individual stories of how people really experience, feel, and describe the NYC streets and buildings. Each map painted a story of humanity, and a story of memories, filling the blank canvas that is the island of Manhattan.

I wondered what a CTA story would look like in this book. Visits to so many buildings, meeting so many different professionals, consultants, tenants and city agencies. Our experiences could really fill this whole book. We would tell a story of how an architect interacts with NY and how those interactions translate into physical marks upon the cityscape.

Would love to see that map.

-by Jacline Vargas


Bird vs Man


One advantage of masonry walls is they are bird-friendly compared with many glass curtain walls.

One advantage of pitching copings away from the street is they are people-friendly compared with most other copings.

-by Jesse Pringle


Collective Memory

Why is historic preservation so important?  History is the collective memory of a community-a source that connects people and creates a line of continuity through the past.  Historic buildings serve as vessels to remind us of some magnificent communities that have come before us-a reminder that should be welcomed in these divisive times. 


The Hunterfly Houses at the Weeksville Heritage Center are perfect example of this. Weeksville in Crown Heights marks one of the largest free black communities in antebellum America.  Weeksville was a self sustaining community that provided its residents education, political standing, and the opportunity to own land and operate businesses. A community rooted in elevating their neighbor and fighting for social justice resulted in some of the most successful minds of the time.  By the early 20th century Weeksville became less secluded and was subsumed into the rest of Brooklyn. I wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Hunterfly houses-the remaining remnants of Weeksville (and the oldest structures in Crown Heights) were landmarked and efforts were put in place to restore them.  Preserving these houses serves as documentation of the past, and preservation of a memory of a community that should not be forgotten.

Historic photo pulled from Brooklyn Historical Society archives.

Historic photo pulled from Brooklyn Historical Society archives.

by Haleh Short


Acropolis Kitty and Other Exploitations of Warm Stone Ruins by Athenian Felines


There is nothing better than relaxing in the shade of the Parthenon after the sun has heated the stone all day long, it is the perfect balance between the Athenian heat and the cool afternoon breeze… at least for Acropolis Kitty.

Since the Acropolis is quite the hike, many cats prefer to relax in the Agora instead.


Who has the better spot?


Taking a bath on ancient marble.


Cats aren’t the only ones who get to have fun. Here I am enjoying a rest on a marble throne at the Theatre of Dionysus.

It’s a win-win, ancient architecture and cats, what’s there not to like?

— By Jack Waine