April 29, 2016
The New York Landmarks Conservancy awards honor stewards of historic buildings who completed extraordinary restoration and reuse projects in 2015.
Junior Public Information Officer
Long Island City, NY—The New York City Department of Design and Construction received two awards for excellence in preservation from the New York Landmarks Conservancy on April 28th at the Riverside Church in Harlem. The restorations of the Staten Island Museum and the Manhattan-Bronx High Bridge projects were honored with the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards.
The Staten Island Museum’s expansion to the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center was a dream 50 years in the making which began when Snug Harbor, the nationally significant historic site, was saved from demolition through the leadership of Staten Island Museum members in 1965 and became one of the first officially landmarked buildings anywhere in the five boroughs when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was founded that year.
When the reconstruction on the Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor, a triple landmarked former dormitory dating from 1879, began, the neglected interior and compromised structure required the removal of a majority of the building’s interior materials, finishes, and structure, leaving only the historic cast‐iron staircase and the original exterior walls and roof. With $24.4 million in capital funding provided by the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs, City Council, and Borough President, the Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor was realized as part of the New York City Department of Design’s Design and Construction Excellence program. Under DDC’s overall project management, the facility was renovated and restored by Gluckman Tang Architects, the primary exhibitions were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the LiRo Group managed the construction and C&L Contracting Corporation completed construction for the facility.
The Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor provides over 22,000 square feet of useable space, including four museum‐quality galleries, an auditorium/performance venue, and classroom space for school field trips. The Museum is the first historic landmark building on Staten Island to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the US Green Building Council and meet the stringent environmental standards of the American Museum Association. The new facility utilizes a closed‐loop geothermal system, which uses the earth’s constant temperature and a series of circulating pumps, to heat and cool the building, minimizing the need for fossil fuels and reducing the Museum’s annual operating costs.
DDC’s restoration of the High Bridge, which is New York City’s oldest surviving bridge and connects the Bronx and Manhattan, was also be recognized with a Lucy G. Moses award for excellence in preservation.
A challenge that DDC faced in preserving the High Bridge was finding the balance between improving structural integrity with new technology and keeping the original essence of the project the same as it was for generations of New Yorkers before. DDC was meticulous when choosing materials for the project. For instance, red bricks were laid in a classic herringbone pattern and were bonded with natural cement – the same mortar as was originally used in the construction of the bridge in 1839.
The High Bridge was originally designed in the style of the ancient Roman Aqueducts, so it was important to DDC that the great stone arches were preserved. DDC not only restored the 91–inch aqueduct piping over the steel span, but also installed LED lights under the bridge to bring the under-arch structure alive at night. DDC also rebuilt the Manhattan gatehouse with the same techniques that it was built in over 100 years ago. Eight bronze medallions line the walkway and show the progression of the life of the High Bridge, which is a national landmark, from its original completion in 1848 to the restoration that was completed in summer 2015.
“Staten Island Museum’s new home on Snug Harbor is one of those extraordinary buildings that both preserves a piece of New York City history and activates a state‐of‐the‐art space where every New Yorker can engage with exhibitions and cultural programming,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The City was proud to support this project and we applaud the architects and the museum for this well‐ deserved recognition for their stewardship of the New York City treasure.”
Staten Island Museum Interim President & CEO Cheryl Adolph observes: “This award closes a circle that began 50 years ago, when the Museum advocated for the front‐row five Greek‐Revival Buildings that include our Museum at Snug Harbor to become the first designated landmarks of the newly formed New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. We are grateful for the City’s investment and proud to have achieved this remarkable feat in preservation history.”
“For decades, the Staten Island Museum planned and worked toward expanding into this incredible landmark facility on Snug Harbor, giving their collections and programs room to grow” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Thanks to the talent and commitment of the architects, the board and staff ‐ most especially the spirted Elizabeth Egbert ‐ and a huge range of stakeholders from across the City, this project provides us with a new cultural destination for New Yorkers and visitors to experience this institution’s unique educational and cultural assets.”
“We are proud to have partnered with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Staten Island Museum and our consultants to enhance the museum’s dedication to environmental stewardship,” said Design & Construction Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Peña‐Mora. “The Staten Island Museum is an example of how the City is committed to building projects that expand opportunities for the community‐ all while incorporating aesthetically pleasing design. We are also proud of our project team that worked on the High Bridge. To have two projects recognized for excellence by the New York Landmarks Conservancy is a real honor.”
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $10 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.