Contact SUPERSTRUCTURES

SUPERSTRUCTURES
Engineers + Architects

32 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
(212) 505 1133

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info@superstructures.com

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hr@superstructures.com

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SuperScript is a quarterly newsletter from SUPERSTRUCTURES. Founded in 1981, we are a firm of architects, structural engineers, and conservators dedicated to the art and science of exterior restoration.

Approach

Building components – supporting structure, facades, balconies, fenestration, roofs, plazas, parking decks and sidewalk vaults – no matter how well designed and constructed will deteriorate over time.

Our approach combines art and science. The science of restoration requires an understanding of the factors that can compromise an asset’s integrity, coupled with a thorough knowledge of remedial measures – their design, cost, and implementation. The art of restoration entails the design of solutions that are either virtually invisible, or enhance the asset’s appearance.

Methodology
Sample Construction Documents
Large Scale Projects
Research and Development
Environmental
Responsibility

Control

Our proprietary methodology shapes the life of each project – from investigation through construction documents through construction administration – offering unprecedented control over every aspect of the project. Control over cost. Control over schedule. Control over quality.

We’ve completed numerous complex restoration projects with change orders of 3% or less.

That’s why we’ve become a favorite of hundreds of clients that demand their projects be completed on time and on budget. See our client list.

We don’t want to be surprised by a problem while we’re standing on a rig with the contractor, mid-way through the job. An early investigation of a problem’s nature and extent ultimately saves time and money. This involves:

  • Review of existing documentation.
  • Careful visual and physical observation.
  • Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation (NDT&E) techniques. We employ NDT&E on virtually every significant project.
  • Minimally invasive probes, when necessary.
  • High-definition: we’ve implemented a novel inspection technique we call “hyper-pixelation” in which hundreds of high-resolution photographs are stitched together to create a composite digital image. This image constitutes a comprehensive record of our visual inspection, and allows us to “zoom in” to view a level of detail measured in fractions of an inch.

HyperPixel – Coping Inspection

“If you get it right on paper, it’ll be right when you build it.” – The Wright Brothers

We address all issues systematically, on paper (actually, computer) before the start of construction. Our construction documents (drawings and specifications) constitute detailed instructions to the contractor executing the restoration work that we design.

Our construction documents employ a disciplined system. Every location where restoration work is to be performed is clearly labeled on a background drawing of the building façade or roof. The label indicates the type and extent of that work, and is keyed to a detailed drawing of that “restoration assembly,” calling out the products and materials to be used, and their intended configuration. Our specifications further define acceptable products and manufacturers, and are tightly coordinated with our details.

Certain aspects of our system have been imitated by our colleagues, but no other practitioner has an approach that competes with its intrinsic logic and depth.

Ask anyone about the quality of our construction documents – owners, contractors, even our competitors.

“God is in the details.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Many of SUPERSTRUCTURES restoration projects include historic buildings.

A picture is worth a thousand words. What most practitioners describe in the text of their specifications, we draw. When drawn, contractors can clearly visualize complex assemblies, rather than reading and interpreting pages of verbiage.

Complexity in a restoration project occurs at intersections, joints, and discontinuities. These are the critical details that must be considered and delineated in advance by the design professional, not left to the improvisational skills of the contractor.

SUPERSTRUCTURES Construction Documentation

How Much?

SUPERSTRUCTURES provides detailed cost estimates for each project before it goes out to bid.

Clients need to know the cost before the project goes out to bid so that it can be funded, or phased, if necessary. Our rigorous system allows us to prepare a realistic cost estimate prior to bidding, eliminating the temptation to use the contractors bidding the project as de facto cost estimators.

We maintain a database in which we track and record material, labor, and overhead costs for the materials and assemblies that we specify. Because we are involved with so many projects within the region, our data are current and reliable.

“Apples to Apples” Comparisons

SUPERSTRUCTURES compares the same sub-consultants and contractors when soliciting bids.

We assist the owner in assembling a list of qualified bidders. We know the strengths and specialties of the restoration contractors and sub-contractors operating in our arena.

We require bidders to submit a lump sum fee for the entire project, as well as a separate line item price for each restoration assembly. We prepare a detailed analysis of bid submissions, comparing competing bids with each other and with current cost data. We assist during negotiations to secure the best price from the most suitable contractor.

We often have more than twenty bidders on large public projects, but we almost never receive “requests for clarification.” That’s a tribute to the precision of our bid documents. A contractor is better able to complete the project on time and within budget if the contractor knows exactly what is required at the outset.

Trust…. but Verify

When SUPERSTRUCTURES conducts restoration projects, quality is of the utmost importance.

Our site presence during construction helps assure that the contractor adheres to the requirements of the construction documents.

Within our system, each individual repair item carries a unique identifier. Each item can be tracked, allowing us to monitor the quality of the contractor’s performance and the progress of the work.

For a significant recent project, we tracked the removal and replacement of terra cotta units, granite, and slate roofing, at thousands of discrete locations, and issued detailed field reports commenting on quality and quantity of completed items.

Roofs rarely leak in the field of the membrane. Roofs fail where the membrane intersects a parapet wall, is penetrated by a roof drain, or terminates at a door saddle. That’s why our drawings for roof restoration projects contain pages and pages of details anticipating these conditions. A sample roof restoration project is excerpted below.

Masonry restoration over flat continuous regions of wall is relatively straightforward. Restoration becomes more challenging where a masonry wall turns a corner, is supported by a steel member, or is interrupted by a window. That’s why our drawings for the restoration of the façade of a fairly conventional postwar apartment building contain pages and pages of details anticipating these conditions. A sample masonry restoration project is excerpted below.

Replacement of curtain wall sealant involves more than squeezing a consistent bead out of a caulking gun. That’s why our curtain wall restoration drawings for the project excerpted below contain a dozen separate details describing various conditions of sealant and substrate.

Restoration of historic buildings, especially those featuring terra cotta ornamentation, is one of the most demanding restoration assignments. The projects excerpted below illustrate our meticulous approach to recent landmark restoration projects.

Restoration projects use Asset Information Management software.

Restoration projects use Asset Information management technology.

Large scale projects present special challenges – first keeping track of the myriad of information and then analyzing it to gain the necessary perspective to determine the best solutions.

SUPERSTRUCTURES’ proprietary Asset Information Management (AIM) system is ideal for projects where conditions must be inventoried, and remediation accomplished and tracked, at hundreds or thousands of discrete locations. For example, we’ve deployed it for a hospital campus with 200 different roof surfaces, for a client with a portfolio of 500 twenty-story apartment buildings, and on a courthouse where discrete repairs were performed at 16,000 locations.

Asset Information Management

Multiple field teams are mobilized to gather the data necessary to formulate solutions. Our teams carry rugged, AIM-equipped, “Toughpads.” Data collection is rapid, accurate, and consistent, relying on a common language that allows multiple teams to work together seamlessly.

Massive quantities of collected information can be “sliced and diced” as the project demands. We can provide detailed advance estimates of restoration costs, allowing the client to verify that adequate funding is in place. The system is flexible enough to accommodate last minute changes in client priorities. Further, the system encourages methodical tracking of the progress of the work, so that payments to the contractor are consistent with the work as it is completed, and the client is presented with a detailed record of the project.

AIM was invented, developed, and maintained by SUPERSTRUCTURES and it’s unique in the profession.

Consistent with our commitment to the advancement of science and art, SUPERSTRUCTURES maintains a dedicated research and development capability.

Innovative construction products and techniques are constantly being introduced, offering advantages in strength, weight, workability, longevity, or environmental footprint. Sometimes a “space age” material is the perfect solution for the restoration of a 200 year old monument (sometimes not). We maintain a laboratory within our office in which we construct prototypes of devices, and conduct trials of new techniques and methods.

We have created, and continue to develop proprietary systems that integrate construction drawings, specifications, cost estimating, scheduling, construction administration, and asset management of buildings and infrastructure.

We’re continually exploring cutting edge technologies in NDT&E, corrosion protection, structural health monitoring, photogrammetry and point cloud capture, and UAV’s (drones).

We relentlessly seek out and apply the latest proven materials, methods, and information technologies on behalf of our clients and projects.

“The greenest building is the one already built.” – National Trust for Historic Preservation

Renewing an existing asset for continued use is intrinsically “green.” Environmental stewardship begins with the decision to renovate or maintain a facility, rather than demolish and replace it. That’s what we do.

Equally green within the realm of renovation are decisions that resist unnecessary replacement of materials or systems. It’s been calculated that the manufacture, delivery, and installation of one square foot of new brick wall consumes the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. Our experience with thousands of projects underpins our judgments regarding components that can safely and sensibly remain in place.

Our principals are LEED AP accredited. We are committed to sustainable solutions that conserve resources and promote energy efficiency