Monday, May 22, 2017

Designing for Real Estate Developments

In the past JMA has done a lot of projects working with real estate developers. Our latest project is the Griffin Townhouses, which we designed for Ascent Development. The townhouses are located in Hunter’s Point, Long Island City. It consists of luxury condo units made with high quality materials like Quartz countertops, White Oak floors, and beautiful backyard spaces.  

10-27 47th Road
10-18 47th Avenue

Development Stage
Developing a building is a lengthy process because there are many different components that make a building a winner. Throughout the entire process each team member’s expertise is crucial in order to make the property a success. These members could be architects, bankers, lawyers, or engineers but each are an integral part of making the magic happen. I find the entire real estate process fascinating because real estate developers are always projecting into the future. When investing in a building the developer always asks themselves two questions.

·         What can I do to create value for this building?
·         Is this going to give me a return on my investment in the future?

Real estate developers are risk takers; they are responsible for picking out the right site, obtaining financing, and overseeing the design process. Simply stated they are the conductors of a project, trying to bring together all the different ideas of what a good design should be and make the building that works for all, not just for one segment of the team.

However, it is up to the architect to be responsible for the complete design of the building and how it performs in the market. JMA has a lot of experience working with real-estate developers as well as self-developing a number of our own projects. We know what buyers are looking for and how to achieve highly marketable and functional designs. For our project 54 Bright we designed and developed it throughout every stage. 
54 Bright
  Since we developed this building ourselves, we had more freedom in the design process: in terms of control, and receiving a greater return on our investment. These projects are exciting because as architects we can search for things other developers might not notice because we know how everything works from a design and structural standpoint. At JMA we have an advantage because we know what good design is and how to create buildings that people want and have them sell fast. 

With any development project there is going to be certain roles for each participant. Architects are held accountable to the investors and the business but we also want to make art and have it be a high quality design. We see the potential of certain areas or buildings developers might overlook. Our specialty is creating buildings that people want and need, keeping in mind the changes in each neighborhood. Our cities are constantly changing, especially in New York, with more gentrification and evolving tastes.

JMA creates buildings that are architecturally interesting but also economically viable. We know all the time it takes to design a well thought out project. Developers want buildings that stand out from the rest and can be distinctive amongst the other neighbors. At JMA we are all about achieving harmony of unique design while staying relatable with the other buildings. We have been successful in creating designs that are memorable and easily recognizable, which is a trend we will continue to uphold.



Massie, Caroline. "Q+A: Author Peter Hendee Brown on How Real Estate Developers Think." Architect. Hanley Wood Media Inc., 09 June 2015. Web. 18 May 2017.
Bulloch, B., & Sullivan, J. (2010) Information - The key to the real estate development process. Cornell Real Estate Review, 8,78-87.
Gil, Luis, and Richard Peiser. "The Architect as Developer." Design Intelligence. Design Intelligence LLC, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 May 2017.

                                                                                

Monday, May 15, 2017

Effective Green Roofs for Healthier Cities

In cities with dense urban populations like New York and New Jersey, it is common to witness large amounts of emissions and waste. These emissions have the possibility to wreak havoc on not only the economy’s health but a person’s health as well.  A great way architects can combat this and increase biodiversity and sustainability is by designing buildings with green roofs aka “eco-roofs”.

Buildings by nature are intrusive and obstructive to the environment. They disrupt the natural flow patterns and strain our natural drainage systems. Green roofs can conceptually serve as a replacement for the ground occupied by the building (see green roof concept below).





Typically, a green roof includes a waterproofing membrane layer that protects the building, soil, and plants overlying a traditional roof. 
Detailed version of the layers in a green roof



Sustainable Benefits
Not only are green roofs attractive but it is an important way to solve environmental issues such as, energy consumption, improving water and air quality, lowering temperatures on the roofs, and lessening the impact of the urban heat island effects. Below I will go more into detail about each of these issues and how green roofs combat them.

Energy Consumption
Conventional roofs, also known as, black roofs derive from petroleum based black tar or rubber. These materials absorb energy from the sun and can reach high temperatures up to 150°F in the summer. If you live in a building where your air conditioning bill skyrockets in the summer this might be a reason why. The great thing about green roofs is that they help combat this problem by absorbing less sunlight, in comparison to black or white roofs, through a process called evapotranspiration.  In addition to this, they also have the capability to act as an insulator that reduces heat flux and takes the heat from the building’s exterior to the interior through the roof by up to 72%. 
Water Quality
When storms occur, alternative roofs can create runoffs flowing into sewer systems and this helps with water pollution and flooding.  Green roofs reduce the amount of storm water runoff and delays the time at which runoff occurs. Furthermore, the soils and plants absorb rainwater, lessening the impact on storm drainage. If native plants are used, they may require little to no maintenance. 

Air Quality
New York City is full of smog but plants are those helpful friends that remove air pollutants no one wants like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Green roofs can create healthier cities because it contributes to smog reduction using the plants that are on the roof. 

Urban Heat Island Effect
Planted roofs can lessen the impact of the urban heat island effect by decreasing the rates of heat-related illnesses, improving air quality, and further insulating the roof, which improves a building’s energy efficiency.  

Reduce Sound / Longevity
A green roof provides a natural layer of protection for buildings and insulation that extends their life and thereby reducing waste and frequency of replacing roofs. Unlike conventional roofs, green roofs absorb sound and reduce the noise transmitted around dense populations. 

Aesthetic Impact
In addition to the economic benefits listed above, there are so many aesthetic positives that can accompany a green roof. Green space can serve as a quiet refuge within the sometimes chaotic urban environment, allowing users to connect back to nature. Aesthetically, green roofs can improve the views from neighboring buildings. I would much rather see a beautiful view consisting of someone’s garden instead of roof membranes, and unsightly mechanical equipment any day. Look at the beautiful aerial view of the green roof at Chicago City Hall.



Chicago City Hall Green Roof


Financial Consideration
The added cost of the green roof can partially, if not fully, offset through lower utility rates, tax benefits, and higher market values. It becomes a highly marketable and visible amenity; it is cost effective in the long run and can help you save money. These are among the many reasons that we are such a passionate proponent of green roofs and attempt to use them in our projects whenever possible. Like in our project 93 Bright (see picture below)


Green roof at 93 Bright

Our building 93 Bright includes a green roof that is a great amenity for tenants and benefits from its sustainable qualities. JMA loves seeing greenery in the city and finds it so important to bring nature back into large metro areas. Besides green roofs being attractive, it provides many benefits to the environment and it helps improve our cities. Green roofs are the ultimate win-win situation for everyone involved so don’t hesitate go green with the rest of New York.


Citations  

United States General Services Administration. "The Benefits and Challenges of Green Roofs on Public and Commercial Buildings." United States General Services Administration, May 2011. Web. 12 May 2017

Chicago City Hall Green Roof Image Source: TonyTheTiger, Chicago City Hall Green Roof. 2008, Digital Image. Available from Wikipedia.