Press

Press in VTDigger : Making it in Vermont: These Vermont homes will move to New York this summer by Paul Castrucci

Making it in Vermont: These Vermont homes will move to New York this summer

by Anne Wallace Allen

Vermod general manager Kristen Connors inside a Vermod home. Photo by Anne Wallace Allen/VTDigger   Editor’s note: Making it in Vermont is an ongoing series by VTDigger’s business reporter Anne Wallace Allen looking at companies and industries driving innovation in the state. If you have ideas about inspiring entrepreneurs or companies, send them to Anne at awallaceallen@vtdigger.org.

Vermod general manager Kristen Connors inside a Vermod home. Photo by Anne Wallace Allen/VTDigger

Editor’s note: Making it in Vermont is an ongoing series by VTDigger’s business reporter Anne Wallace Allen looking at companies and industries driving innovation in the state. If you have ideas about inspiring entrepreneurs or companies, send them to Anne at awallaceallen@vtdigger.org.

A Hartford company is building 13 modular homes that it plans to ship to New York City this summer for a Habitat for Humanity project.

Vermod makes 1,000-square-foot net zero energy homes with solar panels on the roof. The homes have a base price of about $190,000 installed and are designed to return the solar power they generate to the power grid.

The Habitat for Humanity homes will fill 13 small lots scattered through Queens that will be sold to income-qualified buyers through a lottery later this year. Vermod was one of about a dozen modular and prefab home companies that the project leaders considered, said project architect Grayson Jordan, an associate architect with the New York firm Paul A. Castrucci, Architect. The project RFP called for a very energy efficient home.

The New York City job is the most complex assignment yet for Vermod, which was started by Hartford builder Steven Davis as state and local officials sought new affordable housing after Tropical Storm Irene demolished several Vermont mobile home parks in 2011. Davis, who had been building energy-efficiency conventional homes since 2008, built 11 modular homes that fit the specifications for the parks.

“He probably had five employees working there” at the time, said Kristen Connors, Davis’ niece and now the company’s general manager. Davis then moved his company to its existing manufacturing plant in Wilder and now Vermod makes 25 to 40 units per year for homes based on one to four units. It has 15 workers.

The company provided units to build 14 duplexes for an Addison County community put together by Addison County Community Trust and the nonprofit Cathedral Square Corp. housing organization in 2017, and last fall delivered a four-unit home in Massachusetts.

“We looked at a few different models, but this one was better in terms of quality, durability, and energy,” said Cindy Reid, director of development at Cathedral Square, about Vermod. “When we’re developing long-term affordable rental housing, we really need to look at durability and built to last. The quality was just way higher than alternatives.”

While modular homes experience a brief mobility while they’re being shipped to a site, they are designed to be fixed and permanent and they are usually placed on a conventional foundation or on piers. That sets them apart from manufactured homes, which are built on a steel chassis and can be towed even after installation. Vermod works hard to set its products apart from the manufactured variety.

“That’s a bad word for us,” said Ashley Andreas, who explains the homes to prospective customers. “It’s not a trailer home. There’s a legal difference.”

Modular homes are made of wood and must meet all local building codes, said Andreas. Vermod’s homes are clad in vinyl with steel standing-seam roofs cut in the company’s Hartland plant. The interiors are wood with bamboo floors, Energy Star utility systems, and structural insulated panels on the roof.Connors said the company gets most of its materials from Goodro Lumber in Killington.

“We’re trying to change the stigma that surrounds mobile home parks and create a better product that is obtainable, affordable and healthy for anybody no matter what their price point is,” Connors said.

Vermod also created and delivered 13 homes for the Lamoille Housing Partnership’s Evergreen Manor Mobile Home Park.

Connors got involved in the company in 2015 after working in insurance for 13 years. By then, Davis was selling homes as far away as Burlington, Hardwick and Shelburne. At 72 feet long, the full-size structures are slightly longer than most of the modular or other homes that travel by road, and Davis had trailers custom-made by a company in Pennsylvania.

The two model homes at Vermod’s Hartland factory contain wall-size Sonnen batteries that can store the solar energy generated on the roof in case of power outages. The homes in the Addison County project, on a site in Waltham and Vergennes, also contain the batteries, which were installed without charge by Green Mountain Power.

“We had 14 homes producing energy on the grid, and (Green Mountain Power) needs to manage peak times and who is producing and who is drawing,” Reid said. “During peak times they can take solar panels offline and draw from the battery. It was a tool to help the utility and to create resilient homes so if the power does go down, they still have heat and lights.”

Connors expects the New York installation to be the most complex yet.

“They are nestled right in there, one after another. Some sites have trees sitting in front of them; there are electric wires running through the streets,” she said. “My uncle loves complicated projects.”

As with all of Vermod’s projects, the units will be delivered with all finishes and appliances in place. Habitat for Humanity will have poured the foundations, and Connors said it will take a week for each home’s structural, electrical and plumbing connections to be completed.

Also like the others, the New York homes will have rooftop solar panels. While connected to the grid, they are designed to produce at least as much energy as they consume. They will be tall and thin, made of three units on top of each other, with the third box primarily used as roof space.

Habitat for Humanity has signed a letter of intent for the project, and Connors expects construction of the 13 homes to continue over the next two years.

The New York project specifically calls for net zero energy homes. With Vermod, “(we) were working with a system that we felt we could work with that made sense for us, as far as how they built,” Jordan said. “And then another big thing was they are delivering a nearly complete building, versus some of the panelized systems where you get your walls and then you do everything else.”

Vermod also makes sense because labor costs in Wilder are lower than they are in Queens, said Jordan.

“There is a cost in transporting these things and using a crane to erect them, but it is offset by the ability of Vermod – they’re in a factory, so it’s a little more controlled, and that can offset the cost,” Jordan said. “And the other thing is we’re getting a known product from people who are really passionate about energy efficiency; that is another criteria.”

Connors and Davis have talked about franchising and about expanding nationally, but “I think right now the main goal is to perfect our process and just really get good at what we are doing,” she said. “I’d hate to lose sight of our vision.”

Public Relations Event : Building Brooklyn Awards by Paul Castrucci

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Building Brooklyn  Awards


EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL BUILDING BROOKLYN AWARDS  

Honoring 11 construction and Renovation Projects that Enrich Brooklyn's Neighborhoods and Economy

 

Historical Restoration Winner
 

158 Clifton Residence Winning Team

Owner: Sawkill Lumber/ Alan Soloman

Architect: Paul A. Castrucci Architect

Project Architect: Grayson Jordan

Builder: Blue Line Construction

Sustainability Consultant: Right Environments

 


Awards Night Event

Wednesday | August 1, 2018
6pm Awards Program
7pm Cocktail Reception


Location

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Meadow Rue Ballroom
60 Furman Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Map it!)

Summer News : Awards - Publication - Press by Paul Castrucci

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Building Brooklyn  Awards


EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL BUILDING BROOKLYN AWARDS  

Honoring 11 construction and Renovation Projects that Enrich Brooklyn's Neighborhoods and Economy

 

Wednesday | August 1, 2018
6pm Awards Program
7pm Cocktail Reception


Location

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Meadow Rue Ballroom
60 Furman Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Map it!)

Link to tickets and registration
 

 

Historical Restoration Winner
 

158 Clifton Residence Winning Team

Owner: Sawkill Lumber/ Alan Soloman

Architect: Paul A. Castrucci Architect

Project Architect: Grayson Jordan

Builder: Blue Line Construction

Sustainability Consultant: Right Environments

 


Publication

 

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GET A FREE COPY 

We are proud to participate in the latest Passive House publication with Low Carbon Productions


From Small to EXTRA LARGE  : Passive House Rising to New Heights

 

Architect and projects profiles featured on pages 75-83.

To request a copy contact : info@nypassivehouse.org

 

 


In the News


ABC No Rio featured as "The Modern Passive House"
- ON AIR : LG HVAC Story


As Andreas Benzing notes in the introduction to a new guide, From Small to Extra-Large : Passive House Rising to New Heights, "New York City is fast becoming becoming a Passive House epicenter of the country" 
- Treehugger by Lloyd Alter


 "Three projects by Paul A. Castrucci Architect are described in the publication, including ABC No Rio’s new headquarters in the Lower East Side, which is one of the first passive commercial buildings in the city . . . The thermal breaks are essential for reducing energy consumed in regulating the interior temperatures throughout the seasons, according to the passive building philosophy."
- Architect Newspaper by Alex Wong


 

Publication and Press : Paul A. Castrucci, Architect in "From Small To Extra Large : Passive House rising to New heights" by Paul Castrucci

Low Carbon Productions is one of the leading publishers of the latest information on Passive House Building. They cover the latest developments and trends in building energy efficiency. 

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect is a supporter of Low Carbon Production and was featured extensively in this year's publication "From Small to Extra Large: Passive House Rising to New Heights" Link to E-book Download  

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New York Passive House 2018

Mayor Bill de Blasio has called climate change “the challenge of our generation,” and New York City has responded to this challenge by committing to achieving greenhouse gas reductions of 80% by 2050. “The leadership shown by Governor Cuomo and New York State to make bold emissions reductions commitments is vital to solving the climate crisis,” says former Vice President Al Gore.

It is exciting to see the application of Passive House evolving from small single-family homes to extra-large skyscrapers. New York Passive House is committed to advancing policy that recognizes the critical contributions of low-energy, high-performance Passive House buildings to support our state’s clean-energy transformation.


Press

As Andreas Benzing notes in the introduction to a new guide, From Small to Extra-Large : Passive House Rising to New Heights, "New York City is fast becoming becoming a Passive House epicenter of the country" 
- Treehugger by Lloyd Alter

 "Three projects by Paul A. Castrucci Architect are described in the publication, including ABC No Rio’s new headquarters in the Lower East Side, which is one of the first passive commercial buildings in the city . . . The thermal breaks are essential for reducing energy consumed in regulating the interior temperatures throughout the seasons, according to the passive building philosophy."
- Architect Newspaper by Alex Wong


"Many of the aforementioned projects are featured in From Small to Extra Large: Passive House Rising to New Heights, the first e-book guide produced by Passive House Buildings, detailing over 50 works that were built to the energy standard. And in June, the organization held what Benzing called “our biggest conference yet, with nearly 600 attendees and 38 expo booths.”  . . . But passive house certainly appears to offer a model that ensures that new projects are doing more good than harm to our environment, which is encouraging." - The Cooperator by Mike Odenthal

Press : CityViews: Let’s Stop the Zero-Sum Debate Pitting Open Space vs. Affordable Housing by Paul Castrucci

By Karen Haycox and Scott Short | June 21, 2018

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The vision for Haven Green.

As New York City grapples with the challenges of fitting a growing population into its finite borders, residents and government alike must reexamine how we use our public land. The predominant community development models of prior decades, used when eradicating urban blight was the priority, are outdated. Now that we have transformed a city full of vacant lots into a city full of people, we must ensure that all public land is put to its highest and best use. This prevailing need to do more with less has in some cases, drawn new battle lines where alliances once existed.

Nonprofit community development organizations like RiseBoro Community Partnership and Habitat for Humanity New York City, as stewards of public resources, are often the ones tasked with meeting competing public priorities within constrained environments. We have found that the growing scarcity of available public land has pitted potential allies, open space advocates and affordable housing advocates, against each other in competition for a dwindling piece of the pie.

This resource rivalry has most recently, and perhaps most tragically, resurfaced in relation to projects serving communities which are facing increasing market value, where inequitable market forces threaten to push out longtime residents. As an ongoing impact of historic inequity continuing to play out across the city, communities now feel pressured to choose between affordable housing resources or open space access. We believe that the choice between affordable housing and open space is a false dichotomy, that they are in fact complementary components of thriving communities, and that we can and must have both at the same time.

The complex goals of communities must be addressed holistically, with a commitment to developing assets that enrich and empower resident experience. This can only be achieved when projects that utilize public assets are developed to explicitly maximize public benefit. Affordable housing and open public space are both essential to the health and vitality of communities, but must not be considered a zero sum game.

CityViews is City Limits’ showcase for opinions from around the city and the world.

RiseBoro and Habitat NYC’s partnership with Pennrose Properties to redevelop a City-owned parcel, which is currently utilized as a community-led garden space, into a new project known as Haven Green accomplishes just that – preserving access to cherished open space while providing affordable homes for one of our most vulnerable populations.

Seniors are the fastest growing population in the United States, and the need for affordable senior housing has never been greater. A study by LiveOn estimates 200,000 individuals remain on the waiting list for senior affordable housing throughout New York City, averaging seven years. Affordable housing is especially difficult to find for the historically marginalized LGBTQ community. At the same time, we understand the desire of many in Little Italy to preserve every piece of publicly accessible open space in an increasingly gentrified community. That is why our proposal for Haven Green is a marriage of these ideals: more than 120 units of low-income, LGBTQ-friendly, senior housing located within a public, locally-stewarded garden reimagined through a community-led participatory design process.

Engaging with complex narratives and creating collaborative opportunity where potential conflict exists is the essence of the challenging and rewarding work of community development. We believe that when government, communities, and mission-driven developers work together we can create projects that empower individuals, satisfy multiple priorities, and deliver wide-ranging social benefit. Threading this needle successfully is critical to the urgent work of making our cities livable and sustainable for generations to come.

Karen Haycox is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City and Scott Short is the CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership.

Link to original article

RetrofitNY Prequalifies Paul A. Castrucci, Architect and ZeroEnergy Design as a Solution Provider Team for NYSERDA Initiative by Paul Castrucci

 

For Immediate Release

New York City – May 9, 2018

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect and ZeroEnergy Design are pleased to announce Solution Provider Team partnership and prequalification status for NYSERDA RetrofitNY initiative. RetrofitNY is working to create new solutions to renovate multifamily buildings while achieving or approaching net-zero energy use and creating standardized and scalable processes that will improve residents’ comfort and buildings’ energy performance. NYSERDA’s efforts support Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious climate goals while improving the quality of life for affordable housing residents.

Through this Request for Proposals (RFP), NYSERDA is qualifying: 1) Solution Provider Teams to design high-performance retrofit solutions that approach or achieve net-zero energy performance for affordable multifamily buildings, and 2) Buildings that meet program requirements for being retrofitted with these solutions. As a prequalified team the firm will have an opportunity to pair up and submit a Joint Project Application to NYSERDA with owners of qualified buildings.  Contracts will be awarded to qualified Team/Building pairs on a first come, first served basis until six contracts are awarded, or until the period for submitting Joint Project Applications expires on October 31, 2018, whichever occurs first.  

RetrofitNY, a NYSERDA initiative, is revolutionizing the way buildings are renovated in New York State. Our goal is to spearhead the creation of standardized, scalable solutions and processes that will improve the aesthetic and comfort of residential buildings while dramatically improving their energy performance. RetrofitNY is working aggressively to bring a large number of affordable housing units to or near net-zero energy use by 2025, and provide new business opportunities in the State of New York. 

ZeroEnergy Design (ZED) was founded with a commitment to deliver high performance for all clients as a best practice. The firm’s Consulting Practice focuses on energy consulting and mechanical design projects ranging from full renovations to new construction for architects, housing authorities, non-profit organizations, institutions, developers, and homeowners.  

Paul A. Castrucci, Architect is an early adapter of Passive House construction having completed R-951, which is New York City’s first Net Zero Capable, Passive House certified residence. The firm has over thirty years of experience in sustainable practices with a focus on affordable residential buildings, arts facilities and community centers. The firm’s body of work reflects the firm’s commitment to sustainability in design and construction. The firm’s projects typically incorporate systems like passive and active solar heating, photovoltaic electricity generation and schemes for natural day lighting and ventilation. 
 

Press contact: Rosalinda@castrucciarchitect.com    T. 212.254.7060 x 612

Partnership Organizations
 

Our Partners in the Press : The Community Builders CDE Awarded $50M for Neighborhood Investments by Paul Castrucci

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On February 13, 2018 the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund awarded The Community Builders CDE LLC a $50 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation. This is their fourth NMTC award, which now total $140 million. They have deployed previous awards to support 16 projects of various types across eight states and Washington, D.C.

This allocation advances The Community Builders’ mission to build and sustain strong communities for people of all incomes. They plan to target this allocation to support neighborhood business and amenity projects that create jobs and economic activity while addressing needs of communities where TCB families live.  We enjoy working with The Community Builders and share many core values with them. 

You can read more about the Treasury announcement here.
 

Press CurbedNY : Contested Tribeca apartment building finally clears Landmarks by Paul Castrucci

The plan was sent back to the drawing board several times before it was finally approved on Tuesday

By Amy Plitt and Tanay Warerkar

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UPDATE 1/23/18: The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission resoundingly approved a proposal to replace a set of low-rise commercial buildings on Canal Street with a seven-story residential building, on Tuesday.

The Commission liked the revised approval presented by the architecture firm Paul Castrucci Architect, which reduced the height of the building from nine stories to seven stories, and reduced the facade material from red brick to terra cotta, to be more in line with the buildings in the neighborhood (more details on the latest iteration of this project below).

The Commission praised the firm for heeding all of its advise from a previous hearing in July last year, but still had a few pointers. The Commissioners agreed that the architect should either do away with the current glazing on the building’s facade or try to pick a more muted version of the color they’re presently going with. They also asked the architect to reduce the ceiling height on the building’s penthouse to make it less visible from street level.

The architect will now work with the Commission’s staff to rectify those concerns as this project moves forward.

Seven months after the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided to take no action on the proposed new buildings at 312-322 Canal Street, a revised proposal for the project is due to be presented before the LPC at tomorrow’s meeting. It’ll be the third time that plans for this parcel of land will appear before the LPC.

Let’s back it up a bit: Paul Castrucci Architect, the firm behind the (now stalled) revamp of ABC No Rio, has been trying to get plans for a new Canal Street building approved since 2011, when changes to the storefronts those addresses encompass were made without LPC approval. (The buildings are part of the Tribeca East Historic District.) The 2011 proposal was nixed, and it took the firm until last year to come back with revised plans—which were summarily rejected by the LPC for being “completely inappropriate.”

What did the commission have an issue with? Just about everything: “There is a real problem with the monolithic aspect of this application, and it takes away from the granular nature of Canal Street,” LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said during June’s meeting, where she noted that the site deserved a building that is “new and contemporary.”

It remains to be seen if the revised plans, which will be presented during tomorrow’s LPC meeting, will fit the bill. One of the biggest changes concerns the building’s height; the previous proposal put the roof height at 97 feet high, but the revised one takes it down to a bit over 86 feet (with the street-facing wall going to 76.6 feet). And rather than having a flat, brick facade, the revised plans now include a facade made from terra cotta, not so dissimilar to that of Annabelle Selldorf’s 10 Bond Street.

The building will still be home to more than a dozen apartments (most of them one-bedrooms, with one four-bedroom penthouse), with three ground floor retail spaces. Maybe, as the old adage goes, the third time’s the charm?

Take a look at the full revised plans here. We’ll update with more information on the LPC vote as it becomes available.

Press Tribeca Citizen : Red Terra Cotta Facade Proposed for Canal Street by Paul Castrucci

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In June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission sent developer Trans World Equities and architect Paul A. Castrucci back to the drawing board for another go at 312-322 Canal, where they’d like to replace the existing two-story commercial building with a nine-story residential one. YIMBY got its hands on the new renderings, below: “Castrucci has proposed a brick-red terra cotta facade which will frame inset floor-to-ceiling windows on each floor. The architecture firm describes the project as entering into ‘a critical dialogue with its surrounding context. 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.'”

If the terra cotta comes off anything like it does at 10 Bond by Selldorf Architects, I’m on board. The red does give one pause—although I suppose you could argue that it references Pearl Paint…. The LPC will discuss it tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 1/23: The new design for 312-322 Canal was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, says Curbed, but apparently it’s seven stories, not nine, as reported. And the LPC “still had a few pointers. The Commissioners agreed that the architect should either do away with the current glazing on the building’s facade or try to pick a more muted version of the color they’re presently going with [rendering below]. They also asked the architect to reduce the ceiling height on the building’s penthouse to make it less visible from street level. The architect will now work with the Commission’s staff to rectify those concerns as this project moves forward.”

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Press in YIMBY: Red Terra Cotta Exterior Revealed After 312-322 Canal Street’s Major Design Update, Tribeca by Paul Castrucci

BY: JORDAN BEECHE 8:00 AM ON JANUARY 22, 2018

BY: JORDAN BEECHE 8:00 AM ON JANUARY 22, 2018

An updated design has been submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for 312-322 Canal Street, in the West Tribeca Historic District. The site is currently occupied by a two-story retail space, owned by the developer, Trans World Equities. An initial design proposal was submitted in 2011 by Paul A. Castrucci Architect, but was denied by the LPC after being deemed too bland for the area.

Current status of 312-322 Canal Street.

Current status of 312-322 Canal Street.

The updated design submitted again by Castrucci on January 23rd, 2018 is still pending approval. If approved, the lot would give rise to a nine-story residential building, with retail space on the first floor. The structure would rise to 76 feet, 12 feet higher than the existing average for the block.

Construction would yield an estimated 54,250 square feet of space aboveground, plus an additional 7,750 square feet in the basement.

Retail spaces on the ground floor.

Retail spaces on the ground floor.

The ground floor would offer three retail opportunities, and floors two through six would each feature four one-bedroom apartments. The seventh floor is slated to be a four bedroom penthouse unit with private terrace access. Residents would also have access to bicycle storage in the basement and recreational space on the roof.

Close up of terra cotta facade.

Close up of terra cotta facade.

Castrucci has proposed a brick-red terra cotta facade which will frame inset floor-to-ceiling windows on each floor. The architecture firm describes the project as entering into “a critical dialogue with its surrounding context. 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.”

The building is also slated to be passive house certified; it will use high efficiency heat pumps to condition individual interior units in addition to energy recovery ventilators which provide units with cooled, filtered fresh air.

Plans will go before the LPC on Tuesday for approval.

Press in AIA News Letter : In the News November by Paul Castrucci

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November 16, 2017
by Linda G. Miller

Passive Private House
A recently-completed two-family row house at 158 Clifton in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn achieves a near Net Zero energy capability. Designed by Paul A. Castrucci Architect, the 4,000-square-foot, wood-framed structure was gut-renovated to the Passive House New York EnerPHit standard to create a three-story residence, plus an additional apartment in the basement. The project uses recycled materials throughout. The front façade, which is a reinterpretation of the historic vernacular, is clad in blackened ship-lap siding. The process of burning the exterior of the wood, known as Shou Sugi Ban, protects it from the elements, making a wood façade that will be virtually maintenance-free for decades. By applying the process to recycled Douglas fir that otherwise would be unsuitable for exterior use, the design makes the best use of the material and prevents it from being discarded. On the rear façade, wooden slats recycled from the Coney Island boardwalk create a modern rain screen. The roof insulation is recycled polyiso, and reclaimed wood will also be used throughout the interior. Mechanical systems are designed to minimize energy use. High-efficiency mini-split units heat and cool the apartments and are much smaller than in typical apartments due to the reduced heating and cooling loads. Hot water is supplied with heat pump hot water heaters, and LED lighting is used throughout. A 7.5kW solar photovoltaic array is installed on the roof. The project was featured in the International Passive House Days, an annual event that offers builders, engineers, architects, and green building enthusiasts tours of Passive House projects with their designers.

Link to original news letter

Press: Rosario Dawson’s family wants to buy low-income housing units in the East Village by Paul Castrucci

POSTED ON MON, MAY 15, 2017BY ANNIE DOGE

544 West 13th Street under construction in January, via  Paul A. Castrucci Architect  (L)

544 West 13th Street under construction in January, via Paul A. Castrucci Architect (L)

Actress Rosario Dawson’s family hopes to buy low-income apartments in a newly renovated building as part of a city program that converts abandoned homes into affordable units. Rosario grew up in an East Village squatter’s den and her family continues to live in the East 13th Street co-op, even after the actress became famous and amassed a net worth of more than $16 million. According to the New York Post, long-time tenants of the building say the Dawson family bullied their way into controlling a third of the 14-unit residence over the last 20 years.

 

The 19th-century building at 544 East 13th Street (between Avenues A and B) has been owned by the nonprofit Urban Homesteading Assistance Board since 2002, and the city sold the property for $1 each to aid the non-profit’s goal of helping squatters take legal ownership of the properties. However, its co-op conversion did not begin until 2015 and the city has spent $1.78 million for renovations. Squatters now are being given the chance to buy apartments there for $2,500 each, but they can earn no more than $53,450 per year have to live in the building at least 270 days of the year to be considered eligible.

Rosario’s mother, Isabel, who says charity work takes her out of the city much of the year, doesn’t want to adhere to the primary residency rule. During a December 2016 meeting, Isabel asked the nonprofit representative if the rule can be changed to just six months.

One of the original squatters, Annie Wilson, discovered the building in 1986 overrun by feral cats and garbage. Wilson, an activist and artist, worked with other community members to restore the building and bring in water and electricity. She told the post that Rosario financially backs her family. “She’s supportive of her parents. I don’t understand why she hasn’t acquired housing for them elsewhere so these units could be for New Yorkers in need.”

The Dawsons first landed at the East Village co-op in 1986 and were voted by other squatters to occupy apartment 4C. Although the family soon moved to Texas, they continued to sublet their unit to others, a peculiar move for tenants in this type of building. When they returned to East 13th Street, Isabel allegedly became physically aggressive with neighbors. In a 2001 letter, the president of the Tenants’ Association, Alfa Diallo, wrote, “Isabel Dawson’s threatening and violent behavior have jeopardized the safety of the residents.”

Despite these complaints, Isabel and other Dawson family members were able to stay in the building, and ss the Post reported, the family spread their squatting to other apartments, even taking over one unit while its tenant was at work. Isabel’s husband event started living in a room on the first floor that tenants hoped to turn into a gallery or music room.

Adam Leitman Bailey, a lawyer who represents the Dawsons, told the Post that after reviewing the family’s tax returns, all of them are qualified to buy the apartments. “I can guarantee you that none of them are wealthy,” he said.

[Via NY Post]

Press Bowery Boogie : Stairway to Nowhere: The Final Days of the Original ABC No Rio on Rivington Street by Paul Castrucci

Posted on: April 13th, 2017 at 5:00 am by Elie

Demolition of a half-block of Rivington Street is full speed ahead, and with it, the destruction of the both the old ABC No Rio headquarters and the former Streit’s Matzo factory. For the last several weeks, the buildings comprising 148-156 Rivington have been decimated in dramatic fashion. A combination of Bobcats, backhoes, and handtools.

It’s a sad spring for this corner, as more than one hundred years of history is now a pile of rubble and dust.

As previously reported, ABC No Rio is currently hosting programs in exile while its new “passive house” at 156 Rivington Street is under construction. The state-of-the-art facility – designed by local architect Paul Castrucci – will eventually boast larger exhibition and performance spaces (doubling the size), in addition to a green roof and second-floor terrace. The solar-equipped building will also have an elevator and carry the organization’s zine library, computer lab, print shop, dark room, and kitchen.

ABC No Rio purchased 156 Rivington Street from the city In 2006 for one dollar. Since then, the organization has raised more than $8 million in both private donations and city grants. Plans for the 9,000 square-foot, Leed-certified structure are eight years in the making.

What remains is a stairway to nowhere.

Press in Curbed - Pearl Paint's Canal Street conversion finally clears Landmarks Commission by Paul Castrucci

The conversion will create eight apartments with retail at the base

BY TANAY WARERKAR  APR 4, 2017, 2:42PM EDT

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The third attempt proved to be lucky for developer Trans World Properties. After two failed attempts, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved the residential conversion of Pearl Paint’s former headquarters at 308-310 Canal Street.

When the application appeared before the Commission last week, the LPC was largely happy with the changes the architecture firm on the project, Paul Castrucci Architect, made from their previous visit to the Commission last November.

They did however have problems with the rooftop bulkheads, which they said didn’t really reduce the scale of the rooftop addition even though the architects had dropped a floor from their previous proposal.

When they first came before the Commission in November 2016, plans called for two-story additions on both buildings at 308 and 310 Canal Street. The ground floor would have retail, and there would be eight apartments located above that, spread out over the two buildings.

The Commission found the proposal to be “overwhelming” at the time, so the architect came back with a revised proposal last week. That proposal addressed most of the Commission’s concerns including reducing the rooftop addition to a single story, distinguishing the two additions on each building, and reducing the height of the addition on the Canal Street side. The bulkheads however still stuck out.

Now the architects have decided to remove the bulkheads from the roof entirely and instead place them at the back of the building on a newly constructed ridge. That in turn has also reduced the appearance of a taller addition on the Canal Street side, and the Commission was happy with the changes right off the bat.

“It’s really great that they’ve been creative with their approach, and using the sloped roof has really worked to their advantage,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of the LPC, said at the meeting.

Within a matter of minutes, the Commission had unanimously approved the changes. Now Pearl Paint’s conversion can finally move forward.

Link to original article

Press in LifeHacker - Paul A. Castrucci award winning Net Zero Project by Paul Castrucci

R-951’s apartments are large and airy, filled with crisp, bright light from giant windows. The white walls and stainless-steel appliances make the apartment feel minimalist yet cozy. Each unit is 1,500 square feet and comes with its own outdoor space, rare in much of Brooklyn.

R-951 is unique in another way. The building boasts net-zero status, which means each apartment only uses as much energy as it produces. One way it does so is through Passive House design principles, which are used to attain a high level of energy-efficiency. The methodology reduces R-951’s energy usage by about 75%. In fact, it’s the first building in New York that is both Passive House–certified and net-zero capable.

Paul Castrucci, the principal architect of the firm behind R-951, says that this energy reduction comes from three key areas: super-insulatingreducing air leaks, and recycling and recovering energy where possible. For example, the entire perimeter of the building is super-insulated, which minimizes energy loss. The doors and windows are triple-glazed and the walls and roof, as well as underneath the concrete slab, each have six inches of insulation. Buildings often lose energy through air leaks. To avoid that, the firm air-sealed the entire building and taped around doors and windows to prevent air loss.

R-951 also utilizes an energy-recovery ventilation system to recycle energy and further reduce heat loss. Since R-951 has no air leaks, there has to be a way to bring fresh air into the building — but in the winter, that air may be quite cold. A typical building “exhausts all the air from the kitchens and bathrooms,” Castrucci says, which means that a lot of valuable warm air is leaving the building. The energy-recovery ventilation system acts as a heat exchanger, and thus reduces energy loads by using this warm air in a controlled way, by way of tubes that never cross-contaminate. “There’s incoming air in a series of tubes that’s right next to the hot air that’s going out, he says. “This [system] recovers the heat going out and transfers it to the air coming in.”

In addition to addressing practical energy concerns, the apartments were designed in a thoughtful way so they are liveable and comfortable. “I think the lightness and the light colors reflect the fresh air,” Castrucci says. This balance between aesthetics and practicalities is further reflected in the apartments’ interiors. Take the wood flooring: It’s warm, rich, and modern; and it’s also sourced in a sustainable manner. Though finding this wood required a few extra phone calls and a small upcharge (less than 5%), Castrucci notes that finding responsibly grown woods is getting “easier and easier.”

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The roof has a rainwater collection system, which irrigates all the plants in the building, as well as 52 solar panels, which produce renewable energy. If there’s a power outage, residents can plug directly into these panels to heat their apartment or run their fridge.

Solar panels are a surprisingly effective way for homeowners who want to save energy but can’t spend the time or money to build a totally new house. “Solar panels make a big difference,” Castrucci says. “You have a better investment investing in [them] then you do in the stock market.”

Another accessible way all homeowners can learn from R-951 is through its appliances. Castrucci says homeowners looking to increase their home’s efficiency can look to simple things like everyday lighting. “Everyone should be using LED bulbs,” he says. EnergyStar appliances are another easy way to increase efficiency. If you are able to replace your windows, you should use “the best window that you can afford with the highest R-value” (a measure of thermal resistance and level of insulation).

R-951’s apartments all come with induction stoves. With a gas stove, only 20 to 30% of the heat is transferred to a pot. Indoor gas stoves also contribute a high amount of indoor air pollutants. “When you have a building that’s so airtight, all those indoor air pollutants [build up] and it’s not good,” he says. The electric induction stove from GE solves the problem, and 90% of the energy goes right into the pot. “You’re saving energy, and it’s a more efficient, cleaner way of cooking.”

While building a Passive House may not be achievable for everyone, smaller improvements like adding solar panels and upgrading your appliances can go a long way. Screw in a long-lasting and energy-saving GE LED light bulb, for example, and you’ll be well on your way to savings.

Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer at Studio@Gizmodo. She tweetshere.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between GE Lighting and Studio@Gizmodo.

Photographs by Timothy Bell. 

Link to original blog post

2017 TED Residents : Congrats to Wendy Brawer our development partner at Further, Inc. by Paul Castrucci

Long time friend and partner for award winning R-951 Pacific Residence, Wendy Brawer, joined the ranks of the TED Residency program. Wendy Brawer is Green Map System's Founder and Director. Brawer created the first Green Map of New York City in 1992. Since then, she has published nearly 20 interactive and printed Green Maps. Wendy initiated the global Green Map System in 1995 and continues to lead its development as it spread to 65+ countries. She is an accomplished educator and has taught at NYU, Cooper Union and presented at more than 50 universities and conferences. Her accolades includes being Designer in Residence, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, an Utne Visionary, a Woman of Earth/Terre de Femmes and recipient of a Sea Change Award.

On March 6, TED welcomed its latest class to the TED Residency program. As an in-house incubator for breakthrough ideas, Residents spend four months in the TED office with other exceptional people from all over the map. Each has a project that promises to make a significant contribution to the world, across several different fields. 

The new Residents include:

  • A technologist working on app to promote world peace
  • An entrepreneur whose packaging business wants to break America’s addiction to plastic
  • A documentarian profiling young people of color grappling with mental-health challenges
  • A journalist telling the stories of families and friends affected by deportation
  • A programmer who wants to teach kids how to code … without computers
  • A writer-photographer chronicling the lives of Chinese takeout workers in New York City
  • A scientist studying an easier path to deeper sleep

At the end of the program, Residents have the opportunity to give a TED Talk about their work and ideas in the theater at TED HQ. Link to original article 

New York–based designer Wendy Brawer is the creator of the Green Map, a tool that uses distinctive iconography to denote green-living, natural, social, and cultural resources. Locally led in 65 countries, GreenMap.org will soon relaunch with a new, open approach to inspire greater action on climate health and environmental justice among residents and travelers alike.

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.

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

CITYREALTY, "Nine-Story Passive House May Be Replacing Decrepit Stretch of Retail at 312-322 Canal Street"

By SANDRA HERRERA

The stretch of stores on 312-322 Canal Street is finally being revisited by Paul A. Castrucci Architect after the team's first proposal was denied by the Landmark Preservation Commission in 2011. Back then, the plan was to keep the retail but the design was deemed too bland for the lively area. This time around, their design is a for a residential, multi-family project that is slated to become Passive House-certified, much like their other buildings at 951 Pacific Street and ABC No Rio. Passive House principles stipulate that buildings must be primarily heated by passive solar gain and internal gains from people or electrical equipment, which saves up to 90% of space heating costs.

The proposed project will rise nine stories in the East Tribeca Historical District and will likely be rentals. According to Castrucci's site, the facade's repetition recalls the district's "notable palazzo-style, cast-iron facades, but avoids replicating or reproducing their forms, details, or material choices." In an attempt to fit in with the area, the firm chose practicality and utility over extravagance and went with a standard red-brick facade. The Passive House will have optimized energy consumptions with high-efficiency heat pumps to condition the interior units on an individual basis, while Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) will supply the apartments with filtered and conditioned fresh air. The virtually air-tight building will feature exterior brick panels backed with 4" layer of insulation.

Although permits have yet to be filed, this sad brick row of 2-story buildings is begging for a change. Illegal repair work was done to the storefronts in 2010 without the approval from the LPC and the site is plagued by past-due fines and stop-work orders. This isn't the firm's first time around the block either - literally. Paul A. Castrucci Architect also got denied by the LPC for their residential proposal next door at 308 and 310 Canal Street.

Tribeca Citizen Press : Design Phase/Pending Approval for 312-322 Canal Street by Paul Castrucci

Tribeca Citizen, "Rendering for a New Nine-Story Building on Canal Street"

There has been talk for a while about a new building at 312-322 Canal, currently the site of a wide, two-story retail building. The conventional wisdom, as espoused by a member of the Community Board 1 Landmarks Committee back in November, was that the project was on hold till the real estate market heated back up.

Perhaps not. City Realty has details on the current plan, which is for a nine-story building, most likely rental apartments, with a façade of red brick. The developer is presumably still Trans World Equities.

The stretch of stores on 312-322 Canal Street is finally being revisited by Paul A. Castrucci Architect after the team’s first proposal was denied by the Landmark Preservation Commission in 2011. Back then, the plan was to keep the retail but the design was deemed too bland for the lively area. This time around, their design is a for a residential, multi-family project that is slated to become Passive House–certified, [meaning it] must be primarily heated by passive solar gain and internal gains from people or electrical equipment, which saves up to 90% of space heating costs.

Here’s the rendering. No plans have been filed yet, and the project will be subject to Landmarks Preservation Commission approval.