Congratulations to the 2012 Excellence Award Winners

More than any year in the history of our Awards program, the 2012 Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards spanned not only styles, but centuries. The 1802 Hamilton Grange and the 1962 TWA Flight Center served as bookends for an impressive collection of projects, organizations, and publications. These were just two of the Award-winning projects and organizations honored by the Preservation League on May 16, 2012.


Albany County Courthouse, Albany County

Completed in 1916 to the design of Hoppin & Koen, this 6-story Classical design courthouse conveys a sense of majesty in the law. Renovations and building systems upgrades have restored a degree of grandeur for staff and clients of the court system. Careful consideration of theoretical, aesthetic and practical issues make this a model project that sets a high standard for other practitioners. Design strategies for the renovation included the provision of all modern conveniences – including security, data and ADA compliance – with minimal changes to historic spaces. Cost, schedule and maintenance of the court calendar became significant factors as the project evolved. To minimize disruptions to judicial activities, construction was scheduled from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

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Annex Mills at High Falls, Monroe County

The Teoronto Block was built in 1845-55, and is Rochester’s only surviving full block of a once-common building type, with three-story brick facades, stone trim, and continuous gabled roofs. Roof leaks had caused partial collapse of some sections of the roof and floor structures, and hazardous conditions including mold, asbestos, and lead paint hampered design work and emergency repairs. This project transformed a group of Rochester’s most historic commercial buildings from vacant and hazardous condition into a showcase for affordable urban rental housing. By making use of state and federal low income and historic tax credit programs, and incorporating the NYS Homes & Community Renewal Green Building standards, the project stands as an example of incentives and best practices while bringing new life to this section of Rochester.


The Eastman Theatre, Monroe County

The Eastman Theatre opened in 1922 for silent movies with live musical accompaniment. Designed by McKim Mead and White with the Rochester firm Gordon and Kaelber, it is the only large movie palace remaining in the city of Rochester today. While major motion pictures have not been screened there in some time, the theatre continues to be a valuable community resource. This historic theatre has been beautifully transformed into a 2,250 seat orchestral hall, which now complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and boasts other amenities through the addition of a new East Wing. The architects and the University of Rochester took great pains to deliver greater utility while respecting the facility’s historic, architectural and cultural significance.

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Amsterdam Armory, Montgomery County

One of 26 armories designed by Isaac Perry, the Amsterdam Armory was built in 1894 and decommissioned in 1994. In addition to being the only New York armory privately owned as a residence, it also serves visitors as the “Amsterdam Castle” bed and breakfast. The Phemisters’ purchase of the property in 2005 signaled a turnaround not only for the building but for the surrounding community. Their contributions to Amsterdam’s South Side are illustrated in the letters of support their project garnered from Representative Paul Tonko, Mayor Ann Thane, The Historic Amsterdam League and the Historian of the City of Amsterdam.


Hamilton Grange National Memorial, New York County

Hamilton Grange, built as the country estate of Alexander Hamilton and completed in 1802, was designed by John McComb, who would later design New York’s City Hall. Reopened in 2011 after a five-year restoration and a move across the street to St. Nicholas Park, National Park rangers now give tours and host special programs illuminating Hamilton’s life and contribution to the birth of the nation. Visitors are also encouraged to linger in the landscaped gardens surrounding the home. This project ably demonstrates the methodical approach that John G. Waite Associates Architects takes to preservation and restoration. From the completion of a multi-volume HSR – including both a structural and furnishings plan – to the dramatic engineering feat of moving a two-centuries-old house – the firm provided both the vision and technical expertise to carry out a complex and daunting project.

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Niagara Mohawk Building, Onondaga County

The Niagara Mohawk Building is an unparalleled example of commercial Art Deco architecture, and is iconic at the local, regional and national levels. The NiMo Building was constructed in 1931-32 to the design of two prominent architectural firms of the day, Melvin L. King of Syracuse and Bley and Lyman of Buffalo. It is notable for its innovative design and massing, inventive use of materials such as cast stone, terra cotta, aluminum cladding, Vitrolite black glass, neon/helium exterior lighting, and its overall futuristic appearance. As is so often the case, however, years of deferred maintenance, inappropriate alterations and poor workmanship had taken their toll. The building envelope restoration has returned this “Cathedral of Light” to its former grandeur, and is an outstanding example of twentieth-century materials conservation, repair and restoration.


TWA Flight Center, JFK International Airport, Queens County

The TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen, was an icon of modern architecture when it opened in 1962. By 2002, the building was no longer in use and had to be mothballed to prevent additional deterioration. From the glass curtain wall to the ‘penny tiles’ – period finishes have been restored and the building is once again a significant part of JFK Airport. The TWA Terminal was an experiment in aviation technology, incorporating the first use of jetways and baggage carousels. Unfortunately, the changing airline industry quickly outpaced the unique design. During the 1990s, TWA was unable to maintain this finely-detailed building, and in 2002, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey undertook a program to stabilize the building for future adaptive reuse.

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Christ Church Bronxville, Westchester County

Designed by Bronxville architect Bertram G. Goodhue and completed in 1926, the church’s physical plant has been readied for the 21st century while the building’s history and core architectural features were treated with respect. The restoration wisely included a global view of environmental stewardship, from stormwater management to reducing energy use. The awards jury agreed that by reinstating the natural climate control features of traditional building methodologies – in other words, windows that open – the project team has set a fine example for other practitioners.

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“Build a Better Burb,” a project of the Rauch Foundation in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, outstanding publication

An offshoot of the Long Island Index, this website asks ordinary people to imagine more vibrant and sustainable communities on Long Island. We hope that the site can serve as a model for other communities around the state and nation. The website offers advice on how to preserve streetscapes and re-use historic buildings to provide new types of housing, from both a local and regional perspective. Key areas explored on the site include housing, transit, regional planning and sense of place. It encourages and facilitates the incorporation of historic preservation into the broader discussion of reshaping Long Island’s built environment.

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Corning Enterprises in Steuben County, organizational excellence

Corning Enterprises, the community development agency for Corning Incorporated, joined the effort to revitalize downtown Corning in the early 1980s. The development and rehabilitation of upper floors on Market Street as market rate apartments continues to be a top priority for Corning Enterprises. This initiative has had a marked impact on the quality of life, economy, and long-term preservation of Market Street’s historic built environment. The scope of this group’s achievements is particularly poignant this year, as they were a key supporter of ongoing efforts to recover from devastating flooding resulting from Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Corning Enterprises led pioneering efforts to promote downtown living, especially in upper floors over commercial spaces. Now, four decades later, Market Street is an often-used example of how upper floors can provide desirable living spaces and contribute to thriving and lively downtowns.

The organizers of the 2011 National Preservation Conference in Buffalo received a special citation during this year’s Award ceremony.

The Preservation League awards program is supported by a generous grant from the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation.