Managing Change, Protecting Investments The Building Architect's Role

New Yorkers live in an ever-changing city that’s been building and rebuilding continuously since its inception. Today, throughout the five boroughs, according to the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), there are more than 950,000 buildings. Most were built in varying styles during dozens of eras of development. They are our city’s architectural heritage.

The Department of Buildings issued close to 90,000 building permits in 2007. However, most of these permits—more than 90 percent—weren’t for new buildings, but for renovations or modifications. Why? Because many buildings, both commercial and residential, are no longer suited to their original uses or to the intentions of their original architects, builders or owners.

Preserving Your Investment

Most building owners want to preserve or extend the ongoing value of their real estate investments. This can be accomplished through architectural redesigns, modifications or renovations. Architectural changes must be managed. This need to manage change and protect property from devaluation or obsolescence has given rise to the increasingly important role of the building architect.

The building architect’s “Master Plan” can protect real estate investments by establishing guidelines for renovations to ensure that future tenant work will conform to clearly defined standards. Yet, only about 10 percent of these properties have master plans, which can protect the integrity of a residential building by preventing it from becoming a hodge-podge of mismatched, inappropriate and incongruous design schemes with no consistency from floor to floor, or front to back.

Uniform Design Standards. The building architect can develop architectural guidelines for historic or landmark buildings, providing updates that meet today’s legal and zoning codes, while recognizing that original details such as floors, moldings, terra cotta walls and period plumbing fixtures are often irreplaceable parts of the building’s historic fabric, heritage and pedigree.

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