44 Central Rehab Diary: Schematic Design

It’s been a flurry of activity since our last Rehab Diary post that discussed the creation of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for architectural services to guide the rehabilitation of our National Register-listed headquarters here in Albany.


Our RFP went to ten preservation architecture firms located in and around the Capital District. We held a mandatory walk-through of the building for all interested firms, so that they could better understand the condition of the building and so any questions asked would be answered in front of the entire group. In the end, three firms responded with full proposals. Each firm was interviewed by the League’s Building Committee and references were checked. As a result, the League engaged Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture and Preservation, of Albany, as the architect for the project.

Estimates of the size of our project made it clear that a major grant would be needed to complete the project, so the architect and staff worked toward a June deadline for submission of an application to New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. This very detailed application was going to require a strong schematic design for the proposed project as well as detailed cost estimates. Mark Thaler and his team got right to work.

Fortunately, the League still had a number of drawings and documents pertaining to the initial rehab of the building that took place in the 1980’s – some of which were found tucked in a basement wall during our walk-through! The architects analyzed these documents, re-measured the entire building and lined up inspections by structural engineers, hazardous materials experts, and professionals who looked at the condition of our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Perhaps most importantly, the architects took time to meet with staff to discuss our use of the building, its conditions, and how future programming might impact the project. And all of this was completed in a few short months!

The resulting schematic design for 44 Central Avenue calls for a complete rehabilitation of the building, and includes detailed floor plans and elevations covering current conditions and proposed work, along with extensive photographs and cost estimates keyed to the drawings. The design addresses structural issues, exterior deterioration, building systems, facilities for staff, and a general updating of the interior that has not changed since the rehabilitation of the 1980’s. Important fire protection improvements will also be made and an accessible bathroom will be added to the first floor meeting room allowing for improved public access. Throughout the rehabilitation, the greatest care will be taken to preserve this historic building and its historic features. Now all we need is the funding!