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Refitting the buildings of yesterday for an environmentally friendly tomorrow. By Dan Canova

The Heritage

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Rising 35 stories above Fifth Avenue and overlooking Central Park, the Heritage perfectly represents a city in transition—one that is embracing a greener future while still honoring its rich and diverse tradition of great architecture. New York State has adopted ambitious climate goals for the coming decades. New construction can help further those goals thanks to stringent local building codes that mandate high energy efficiency.

However, because 70 percent of buildings in the state were constructed before the implementation of the energy code, renovation of existing buildings is essential. That’s where the Heritage, the Empire Building Challenge, and continuous insulation come in.

American Retention Components, Inc.

The Heritage is part of the Empire Building Challenge, an innovative partnership between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the private sector, setting out to demonstrate the feasibility of retrofitting tall buildings to comply with low carbon standards. The two octagonal towers of the Heritage, built in 1975 and originally designed by Gruzen & Partners in association with Castro-Blanco, Piscioneri & Feder, are sublime examples of brutalist design. Still, they are nobody’s idea of modern energy-efficient buildings. The Heritage was, however, an excellent candidate for the Empire Building Challenge.

According to Joseph Weishaar, senior vice president at L+M Development Partners Inc., the Heritage owners were drawn to the flexibility of the challenge. “We could develop our own scope as part of the Challenge,” Weishaar says, “and since the Heritage is on the northeast corner of Central Park, it has an affordability component. We thought it made sense for the Challenge. We applied, and we won. It was a very exciting process.”

the Heritage


The Age of Efficiency

To answer the Empire Building Challenge and bring these iconic residential towers into the age of efficiency, L+M turned to Inglese Architects to develop a plan and King Contracting Group to execute it. The decision to employ ci with 3- and 5-inch-thick graphite polystyrene insulation was about both aesthetics and energy efficiency. Alex Merlucci, a partner at Inglese Architects who oversaw the design efforts of The Heritage, explains, “Knowing the level of finish and what you can do with the ci system as far as depth and texture, we knew we’d be able to achieve an aesthetic and sustainability goal that would meet the needs of the Challenge and the client.”

The benefits of ci went beyond the great looks and exceptional efficiency though. According to King Contracting president Brett Steinberg, it also made the most sense for the bottom line. “Continuous insulation was the most cost-efficient option for the developer, as metal panels would be almost double the cost, and to rip the facade off and redo it with a brick veneer would be almost triple.”

The level of retrofit Steinberg is describing is what the manufacturer refers to as a reStore Level 3. The process begins with cleaning and preparing the surface, including repairing any damage to the existing façade, which was brick in the case of the Heritage. The next step required the application of a vapor-permeable, fluid-applied air- and water-resistive membrane. The final phase of the reStore Level 3 was installing ci wall cladding with GPS. However, it was certainly not a simple process, owing to the building’s unique Brutalist architecture and fluted masonry facade.

the Heritage


According to Cara Constantino, the senior project manager at Inglese Architecture & Engineering who was overseeing the project, the ci manufacturer was always ready to develop a solution to any problem.

Thanks to a history of L+M working with ci on a multitude of projects, Steinberg and the teams at King Contracting and Inglese Architecture & Engineering had the experience and knowledge to handle the job. Existing tenants were able to stay in place throughout the renovation. Despite the difficult logistics of working in the bustle of Manhattan, the team overcame all obstacles. “With good coordination, you can take on any challenge in New York City,” explains Steinberg.

The result, at the risk of understatement, has been a success for everyone involved. L+M was able to retrofit its aging property, bringing it up to and beyond modern efficiency standards. The residents now enjoy lower utility costs and a more comfortable living environment. The ci demonstrated its unparalleled ability to allow retrofitted legacy buildings to not only meet but to exceed current energy-efficient code requirements. The Heritage’s rebirth has been a shining example that New York’s legacy buildings can play a vital role in the city’s greener future and do so at a reasonable cost. With about three billion square feet of commercial office and multifamily buildings in the city and with nearly half of New York State’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, retrofits like this must and will become more common in the immediate future.

The Empire Building Challenge is proving that a forward-looking approach to rehabilitating the buildings of yesterday can yield a much greener and cleaner tomorrow for all New Yorkers.


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Images courtesy of Sto Corp.

Daniel A. Canova Sr. is a construction/international design manager for Sto Corp. He has worked in the construction industry for 40 years. His experience and employment has been focused on the exterior building envelope. Canova is directly responsible for providing sales and technical support for Sto Corp. in all major cities and city centers in the U.S. That responsibility includes providing sales and technical support to product applicators, general contractors, owners, architects, engineers, consultants, manufacturers, construction officials, inspectors and Sto distributor sales personnel.