A Common Sense Approach in Coney Island
“There is nothing more uncommon than common sense,” quipped famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.* More than just a misanthropic jab at his contemporaries, Wright was advocating for intuitive responses to common problems, not overthinking or overcomplicating a situation. SUPERSTRUCTURES follows this maxim by considering the most logical, economic, and sustainable solution to each restoration challenge—not the trendiest or the most impressive. A good example of this approach was our work on the facade of the Luna Park Co-op in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
SUPERSTRUCTURES consulted on this complex of five residential towers, assessing another engineer’s design to re-clad and waterproof the buildings. It called for adding 1.55″ of insulation to the revised wall assembly to achieve an R-value of 10, a design that would have required excessive shimming or total replacement of miles of shelf angles. While we see the value of maximizing R-value in principle, we could also see that the long-term energy savings were not worth such a radical revision to the facade. Our solution was simple: we re-calculated the dew point values, enabling us to reduce the insulation thickness to .75″ (R-5.5) and still maintain energy code compliance. This allowed the majority of extant shelf angles to remain, saving the client millions in the process.
Our revision to the restoration design for Luna Park also included: a liquid-applied waterproofing membrane where only Tyvek had been specified; installation of a mortar net to prevent excess mortar from trapping water within the wall cavity; and replacement of deteriorated masonry panels with decorative CMU blocks, in lieu of previously proposed metal louvers which would have been a noise issue in wind and rain. Each of these revisions was made in the spirit of common-sense improvements to the buildings’ envelopes.
Whether designing our own restoration solutions or lending our expertise to those of others, our goal is the same: to complete each project on time and on budget while improving the value, longevity, and future performance of a building’s envelope. If you’re intrigued by this goal and our mission to preserve New York City’s landmarks using state-of-the art tools and methods, consider joining our team of skilled, resourceful architects and engineers.
*Like many aphorisms attributed to Wright, this may be a much older saying that the architect appropriated.
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