NYSERDA Buildings of Excellence Round 1

Awards Publications
Historic photograph of Engine 16, as an active firehouse.

We are proud to announce that one of our Passive House projects was honored among the winners of NYSERDA's Buildings of Excellence Award.

Once home to the Metropolitan Steam Fire Engine Company No. 16 in Manhattan's Kips Bay neighborhood, this historic firehouse building was converted into a church in 1974, after which the building was only partially used and fell into disrepair.

Rendering of the front facade, by Don Dietsche.
Proposed green roof left, rooftop before right.

Now, this beautiful masonry rowhouse will be brought back to life with a full-scale, passive certified renovation and conversion into a multifamily residence with a community on the ground floor.

Engine 16's façade is completely intact, from cast iron base and ornate terracotta brick details to its unusually deep cornice and a cast iron firehose shed on the roof.

The building is not located in an NYC Landmarked district, but the proposed design treats it as such, given its historical significance. Engine 16 will meet the most challenging standard for buildings employed around the world today through the Passive House Institute's certification process. We are also utilizing many of the original interior features such as stair railings, interior windows and doors, tin ceilings, flooring, and floor joists.

As a firm, we are involved with over twenty Passive House projects. We have shared our process, details, and even projects during construction by extending open house invitations to educate the building community. Engine 16 can not only continue this tradition but expands on this effort through the NYSERDA Buildings of Excellence program. Engine 16 has already been recognized as a significant educational opportunity and was presented at the 2019 International Passive House Conference in China and the 2019 Passive House Canada Conference in Toronto.

The building's design focused on retaining and salvaging building structure and finishes, rather than simply replacing them for potentially lower cost. Our goal is to find solutions to rehabilitate the existing building's efficiency - and that of others - without sacrificing its storied past or the quality of design.

For example, the mezzanine in unit 3 will be furnished with a beautifully ornate wooden handrail and balusters that were original to Engine 16's third floor staircase (1).

The original staircase on the first floor showcases a beautiful red, cast-iron railing that led from the garage to the firemen's quarters. The railing will be reinstalled in almost the same location (2).

Other details to be reused include 9 ft. tall interior wood windows from the second floor, that likely partitioned off the firehouse chief's office. These will be repurposed as the separating wall between the second-floor tenant hallway and a new convenience stair with the railing described above (3).

The original paneled tin ceilings will be carefully removed and reinstalled in each apartment's living spaces. These panels pay homage to the building's firehouse history and are no longer manufactured (4).

Thanks to the entire team at NYSERDA for helping to make this project a reality.

Read more about it below:

Baxt Ingui Receives Building Excellence Award

The architecture firm Baxt Ingui received an award for their Engine 16 project last week through the Buildings of Excellence Competition.