We are getting excited for the 2021 NAPHN Passive House for All Conference! Starting tomorrow, June 10th, the conference will be held both virtually and in-person in Manhattan. Click here to register for the two-day conference, and then join us on Saturday, June 12th at 3:30 pm for a tour of one of our current Passive House projects: a Greek Revival rowhouse located in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.
Sidney Place is a fully restored and updated townhouse project that is coming to completion on one of the most coveted blocks in Brooklyn Heights. Built in 1846, the Greek Revival rowhouse possesses many exterior features, materials, and details that contribute to the valued architectural and historic character of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The interior, however, had been renovated in the 1980s as a 2-family duplex and triplex configuration that left the layout feeling tight and compartmentalized. We are currently reviving the rowhouse by converting it back to its original single-family program and introducing updates for modern living, all while achieving Passive certification. The rigorous review from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission required much of the original façades and roof lines to remain, apart from two new dormers at the front roof and a custom 18-foot triple glazed Lamilux skylight at the rear roof. This new skylight allows an additional 27” of ceiling height on the top floor without having to raise the rear cornice height. The top floor was previously a dark attic that got very little use. By adding the show-stopping skylight along with three additional Lamilux skylights on the top floor, it has become an experience that draws visitors to the top floor to take in the views of the sweeping blue skies.
We added a 2-story stepped extension at the rear façade that includes expansive Zola lift and slide systems, which bring light into the parlor kitchen and the garden recreation room. To connect these two highly trafficked areas, we added a new, sweeping staircase in the extension that connects the frequent activity between these two areas and the rear yard. The historic significance of our Sidney Place project was considered when designing the new stairs, moldings, and floors, all of which quietly call back to the rich history of this rowhouse and the context in which it resides.
The building science, however, will bring this house into the modern era with its Passive EnerPhit certification. Integrating the fully air sealed and insulated envelope within the parameters of the historic building required delicate interventions and very careful means of reinforcing the 175-year-old masonry. Following several other Baxt Ingui Passive certified projects in NYC Landmarked Districts, our details have evolved over time and the building team was well versed on what to expect and how to avoid complications. Our Sidney Place project has been featured on several Passive House Accelerator presentations as well as NYPH’s International Passive House Days in 2020. This tour presents a unique opportunity to see the benefits of Passive design as the project nears completion and the finished home comes into focus.
Maggie Hummel, Senior Project Manager, RA