We are proud to announce that one of our Passive House projects is going to be highlighted during the 2021 NAPHN Passive House for All Conference in New York City, June 10-11. Conference attendees are invited to join us for a tour of the Engine 16 site on Saturday, June 12th, at 1:30 pm. Click here to register for the 2021 NAPHN Conference virtually or in-person.
Once home to the Metropolitan Steam Fire Engine Company No. 16 in Manhattan’s Kips Bay area, this historic firehouse building was converted into a Church in 1974, whereupon the building was only partially used and fell into disrepair. Now, this beautiful masonry rowhouse will be brought back to life with a full-scale, passive certified renovation and conversion into a multifamily residence with a community facility on the ground floor. Engine 16’s façade is completely intact, from its cast iron base and ornate terracotta brick details to its unusually deep cornice and a cast iron firehose shed on the roof. It is not located in a Landmarked district, but the proposed design treats it as such, considering its historic significance. Engine 16 will meet the most challenging standard for buildings employed around the world today through the Passive House Institute’s certification process. We are also utilizing many of the original interior features such as stair railings, interior windows and doors, tin ceilings, flooring, and floor joists.
As a firm, Baxt Ingui Architects is involved with 21 Passive House projects (12 that are occupied, 5 that are underway, and 4 that clients decided not to certify). We have shared our process, details, and even projects during construction by extending open house invitations to educate the building community. Engine 16 can not only continue this tradition, but it could expand on this effort as part of the NYSERDA program. The building itself also has potential to educate the community.
The multifamily/community facility retrofit of Engine 16 has already been recognized as a significant educational opportunity by Passive House Institute, who invited us to present the project at the 2019 International Passive House Conference in China, and by Canada Passive House, who invited us to present in Toronto in the Fall of 2019.
All efforts of the design focus on retaining and salvaging building structure and finishes, rather than simply replacing them for potentially lower cost. Although we are challenged with an environmentally outdated building landscape in New York City, our goal is to find solutions to rehabilitate this existing building’s efficiency—and therefore others—without sacrificing its storied past or the quality of design.
For example, the mezzanine in unit 3 will be furnished with a beautifully ornate, wooden handrail and balusters that were original to Engine 16’s third floor staircase (1). The original staircase on the first floor showcases a beautiful red, cast-iron railing that led from the garage to the firemen’s quarters. The railing will be reinstalled in almost the same location, as it truly proclaims the firehouse identity (2). Other details to be reused include 9 ft. tall interior wood windows from the second floor, that likely partitioned off the firehouse chief’s office. These will be repurposed as the separating wall between the second-floor tenant hallway and a new convenience stair with the railing just described (3). The original paneled tin ceilings will be carefully removed and reinstalled in each apartment’s living spaces. These panels pay homage to the building’s firehouse history, especially since they are no longer manufactured (4).
Amy Failla – Senior Project Manager, Registered Architect
Renderings (front facade and rooftop): Don Dietsche of Perspective Arts