Announcing the 2017 Excellence Award Winners
A building that, like its namesake, rose from the ashes. A maritime vessel introducing new artisans to long-lost trades. A small-town opera house, restored to its rightful role as a vibrant regional center for culture and music. These are just a few of the Award-winning projects and people that will be honored by the Preservation League on May 10, 2017. We hope you’ll join us at the Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards.
Phoenix Brewery Apartments | Buffalo
Built in 1888 as a brewery, this building has already risen from the ashes once, when a fire destroyed more than half the structure and it earned its moniker “Phoenix Brewery.” This project has transformed a vacant building and is the first market-rate residential development in the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus neighborhood. Meticulous restoration of the building’s brick and sandstone masonry, replacement of the lost central “crown” of the structure’s cornice, and sensitive interior work earned the approval of the National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Office, facilitating the use of Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
Beekman Hotel and Residences/Temple Court | New York City
This project used State and Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits to breathe new life into late 19th-century relic of a ‘fireproof’ New York office building. Ironically, compliance with fire codes contributed to the building’s downfall in the 1950s when the full-height skylighted atrium was closed in. After extensive renovation of the interior and exterior, the Beekman Hotel now boasts 287 rooms – with 77 opening onto the atrium. The design team devised a means to keep the atrium open while meeting New York City’s rigorous safety codes – with a minimum of intrusion on the meticulously restored historic fabric.
A. Philip Randolph Houses, Phase One | New York City
These 36 old-law tenements, managed for some 50 years as a single public housing project by the New York City Housing Authority, have been transformed into 167 generously-sized apartments. Nearly a full city block’s worth of exteriors have been restored – from brownstone to brick to limestone – and the apartments now boast modern and desirable amenities. The project included designation of the West 114th Street Historic District, which facilitated the use of State and Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits, as well as low-income housing tax credits.
South Street Seaport Museum: the 1885 sailing ship Wavertree | New York City
It’s been many years since the League honored a maritime vessel – the John J. Harvey Fireboat in 2002. The return of the wrought-iron Tall Ship Wavertree to as-built sailing condition not only required strict attention to detail and best practices, but the assembly of a team of artisans skilled in long-lost trades. The public-private partnership among the City and other funders is commendable, and we hope the vessel will continue to be used for trades training. The restoration of the Wavertree helps to chart a new and exciting course for the South Street Seaport.
Rouge Tomate Chelsea | New York City
The Awards Jury was particularly struck with the project’s marriage of historic features with contemporary design. Despite their location in a Historic District, these Chelsea carriage houses had been inappropriately altered over the years. This project restored the handsome exteriors of the buildings, while incorporating green and sustainable design features on the interior. The League applauds the concerted efforts of the project team to return these structures to productive use.
Marriott Syracuse Downtown, Formerly Hotel Syracuse
The twelve-story, 1924 Hotel Syracuse closed in 2004, and fell into a vortex of disrepair, tax arrears, liens and foreclosure. Several developers tried to launch a restoration, but all efforts failed. In 2014, Ed Riley assembled a team of financial and professional partners, and the transformation began. From a forty-foot, c. 1948 mural in the lobby to cast stone elements at the roofline – even the hotel’s renowned “coffin doors” – architectural and decorative elements were restored to meet National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Office criteria. The project has qualified for State and Federal rehabilitation tax credit programs and is contributing to the revitalization of downtown Syracuse.
Pickens Hall & Opera House | Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County
New York State has a number of historic opera houses and theaters that would benefit from the vision, leadership and dedication that are the hallmarks of this 15-year effort. From repairs to failing infrastructure and the addition of modern amenities, to the replication of myriad historic and architectural elements, this project illustrates that when people work together, nearly anything is possible. The League applauds the concerted efforts of the project team to return this building to its rightful role as a vibrant regional center for culture and music.
Argos Inn Renovation | Ithaca
Built as a private residence and contributing to the East Hill Historic District, this property had been used for office space for many years and was in poor condition in 2009. The building has been given new life as a boutique hotel and gathering space. The restoration employed local artisans to restore or fabricate intricate architectural details that were lost or covered over – including more than a mile of millwork. The Argos Inn has created living-wage jobs in compliance with a low-interest loan secured from the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency, and green building choices resulted in approval for LEED certification.
Ruth Pierpont, The former Director of the New York State Historic Preservation Office
We are delighted to recognize your decades of extraordinary service to the cause of historic preservation through your many roles with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Until your retirement, you played a dual role – serving as both Director of the Division for Historic Preservation and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. Under your supervision of the National Register program, New York State continued to lead the nation in the number of listings and emerged as a trailblazer in the listing of new and formerly under-represented property types, including resources representing the lives of ordinary Americans and, especially, leading the nation in nominating properties significant to the LGBT community.
The Preservation League’s annual awards celebrate the completion of outstanding restoration projects; validate the work of organizations; encourage advocates to continue their pursuits; and elevate the visibility of projects that serve as inspiration to others. We welcome a new presenting sponsor this year, Uberto Construction of New York City.