Announcing the 2016 Excellence Award Winners

The Preservation League’s Awards Program explores not just the present, but the future of historic preservation. Many of the 2016 award winners provide valuable examples for others by incorporating energy efficiency techniques, adaptive reuse strategies and Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Each year, we are impressed by the number and variety of laudable nominations, and this year was no exception. We are delighted to give these projects the statewide recognition they deserve.

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The Renaissance Albany Hotel (Historic DeWitt Clinton Hotel) – Albany

Opened in 1927 as the DeWitt Clinton Hotel, this prominent building just east of the New York State Capitol and South of Albany’s City Hall had suffered a long decline, and served as subsidized housing before closing in 2006. A $51 million restoration used tax credits and delivered a historic hotel to New York’s Capital city. This project very clearly illustrates the power of rehabilitation tax credits and the role of historic preservation in economic development to New York’s lawmakers.The exterior of the eleven-story building, with Classical Revival and Beaux Arts-inspired elements, was returned to its former grandeur. Interior renovation focused on returning the main floor – main lobby, elevator lobby, ballroom, and arcade – to its historic configuration. Local artisans and skilled workers restored the chestnut wood paneling and painted finishes, marble and terrazzo flooring, barrel-vaulted ceiling and plaster medallions in the arcade and the ornate plaster ceiling and columns in the ballroom. Four conservators from the Clark Art Institute were engaged to restore the lobby murals depicting a dozen events from New York State’s history.

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Apple Store, Upper East Side – Manhattan

The Apple Store, Upper East Side is an adaptive reuse of Henry Otis Chapman’s 1922 U.S. Mortgage and Trust building. The project included exterior restoration, reconstruction of historic finishes, sensitive alterations, and upgrades to building services. The project team is a veritable “who’s who” of leaders in the preservation field, and their collective expertise is clearly reflected in the outcome.


United Nations Campus Headquarters Glazed Facades Replacement – Manhattan

The glass and aluminum curtain wall facades of the Secretariat, General Assembly and Conference Buildings were replaced in kind, matching the original, under the United Nations Capital Master Plan. The project maintained the historic appearance of these significant mid-century buildings while providing a new state of the art high performance enclosure that exceeds current code requirements as well as meeting the UN’s current security objectives. The project engaged a team of experts across a number of disciplines, and establishes a model for faithful reconstruction and celebration of the modern era curtain wall.

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Babcock Shattuck House – Syracuse

The Babcock Shattuck house is an excellent example of how a large residential structure can be renovated while complying with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for preservation. Careful planning and attention to detail allowed for the retention of historic character and fabric, including wood windows, original siding, wood wainscoting, trim, impressive circular tower rooms, and distinctive exterior details including a stone front porch.

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Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial – Saratoga Springs

In 1913, Katrina Trask (philanthropist, Yaddo founder and Saratoga resident) commissioned the memorial to her late husband along with his business partner George Foster Peabody. She wished to honor Trask for his efforts to protect and preserve Saratoga’s natural springs while further beautifying Congress Park. The park was named a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and the Memorial, and more specifically, the bronze Spirit of Life sculpture, have become a defining symbol of the city. This memorial sculpture and architectural surround was dedicated in 1915, and represents an important partnership between sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon. The restoration included addressing the masonry elements of Indiana limestone, concrete and stucco. The bronze sculpture and surrounding landscape were also restored through a combination of grassroots fundraising and municipal support.

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845 Commons (Historic Mica Insulator Co. Building) – Schenectady

President Obama recently recognized Schenectady as one of only three cities in the United States to eliminate veteran’s homelessness. The 845 Commons project made a major contribution toward achieving this goal. The building that houses 845 Commons is part of the former Mica Insulator Company’s research and manufacturing complex. The building was in poor condition after decades of vacancy, but was situated next to the Schenectady County Department of Social Services Empowerment Campus, where residents could access a number of programs devoted to health and self-sufficiency. Its massive size, unfinished interior and open floor plans provided ample, adaptable space for the number of apartments and variety of services required.

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T. G. Hawkes Glass Co. Apartments – Corning

When glassmaker T. G. Hawkes moved to Market Street, he engaged local architects Pierce & Bickford to renovate the structure to accommodate his shop and showroom. A century later, the space has been respectfully transformed to house ground-floor arts organizations with eight apartments upstairs. The second floor showroom and third floor factory spaces were unusually intact. The building and its history are an important touchstone in a community whose life blood has been, and continues to be, glass. Work was staged to enable Vitrix Hot Glass Studio, whose glassblowers have occupied the building’s first floor for 35 years, to continue to work. The project has resulted in an ideal mix of street-level commercial space with market rate apartments above, contributing to a vibrant and lively downtown.

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Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock.

This National Register-listed concert hall in the Catskill Mountains was built for the utopian Maverick Colony 100 years ago, and is home to the oldest continuous summer chamber music festival in the United States. The Hall’s unique, hand-built design presented a number of challenges to the project team, as did the wooded site. Major restoration work repaired and replaced three rotten sills on the casually built barn-like structure, and stabilized the iconic north wall with its multiple barn sash windows set on the diagonal. Proper drainage protects the hall from stormwater run off from the nearby cliffs. New accessible composting toilets with hand washing sinks replace the four one-hole outhouses and obviate the need for a septic field and attendant woods-destruction. Big Ass Fans® move air silently to cool summer audiences. An upgraded electrical service feeds new LED lighting appropriate for a range of performance and audience scenarios.