6sqft Press : Design Phase/Pending Approval for 312-322 CANAL STREET / by Paul Castrucci

If you’ve walked down Chinatown’s Canal Street then you’re certainly familiar with a string of stores at 312-322 Canal Street hawking cheap souvenirs to tourists and passersby. After a proposal to renew the depressed stretch of shops with a brand-new brick construction failed to pass Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) muster in 2011, a new, much more ambitious plan to replace the ramshackle building has finally emerged.

Once again drawn up by architect Paul A. Castrucci, the new iteration would rise as a nine-story, multi-family property with retail at its base. Moreover, the structure would also be a Passive House construction, similar to Castrucci’s other buildings, 951 Pacific Street and ABC No Rio. As with any Passive House, the residence will be primarily heated by passive solar gain and internal gains (from people or electrical equipment) with the aim of cutting energy costs by 90 percent.

By comparison, Castrucci’s first proposal shut down by Landmarks was largely a more polished version of the existing structure, accented with aluminum-framed storefronts and awnings. The LPC called it “sad” and “neither here nor there,” among other things.

The property is sited on the edge of the East Tribeca Historic District, and according to CityRealty, its units will likely be designated as rentals. They add that Castrucci’s simple red-brick design aims to blend in with the neighborhood, rather than stand out. “The project enters into a critical dialogue with its surrounding context,” writes the architect on his website. “The façade’s repetition recalls some of the underlying structural rhythms of the historical district’s notable palazzo-style, cast-iron facades, but avoids replicating or reproducing their forms, details or material choices.”

In terms of its Passive House specs, the building will use high-efficiency heat pumps to condition the interior units, while ERVs (energy recovery ventilators) will supply apartments with filtered and conditioned fresh air. The prefabricated exterior brick panels will also be backed with a four-inch layer of insulation complemented by a layer of mineral wool, which when combined with Passive House-certified windows, will make for an air-tight building.

Although Castrucci has the project prominently featured on his site, official permits have yet to be filed. As CityRealty tells us, the property remains plagued with fines and stop-work orders that stem from illegal repair work done in 2010.