A Constellation

by Don Friedman on March 10, 2019

The NYC Department of Buildings has released another on-line tool. This one provides a fast summary of permits, complaints, inspections by the DoB, violations, and construction accidents for every building in the city, accessible by a map. If you click on the screenshot above, you’ve got the entire city, as I zoomed way out. I don’t know why the decision was made to go with a dark background, but it certainly looks nice.

At first glance it may look like every building is highlighted, but that’s not correct. Only buildings that have one of the categories of action I mentioned are in aqua. Here’s a close up centered on our office:

If you click on that to expand it, you can see the black outlines of buildings that don’t have any actions against the near-black generic background. (For example, there’s a black building directly under the word “STONE” in “STONE STREET HISTORIC DISTRICT” right of center.

In Manhattan, building with actions far outnumber those without. In the overall view, you can see the total: 128,056 buildings with actions out of the roughly million buildings in the city. So a little over one eighth of the buildings had an action. If you look at the overall view, there are lighter areas where more buildings are highlighted. Those areas correspond to (a) the most densely built-up parts of the city, where a lot of construction is going on and a lot of violations are issued, (b) hot neighborhoods, where a lot of new construction and alterations are taking place, and (c) areas with the worst building stock and/or worst building owners, where a lot of violations are issued. Boring middle-class neighborhoods are under-represented.

The information for any given building was already available at the DoB website if you searched by address rather than by using a map. So this is a repackaging of information. But mostly, it looks very cool.

Seeing Is Believing

February 15, 2019

More ancient history, from the same project as the cast-iron column base I showed recently. This is the new steel frame (with its concrete floors on metal deck) that was erected inside the shell of the old building. All of the structure you see here (except for the old brick wall in the background) was my […]

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A Building Ghost Explains His Haunting

February 11, 2019

In a way, that’s the best ghost picture I’ve taken. It’s another old one, but it shows clearly how this phenomenon occurs. Here are the demonstrable facts: The building on the left is an architecturally-forgettable hotel constructed in 2001. The building on the right is a generic NY loft building constructed in 1918. Here are […]

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The State of NYC’s Supertall Boom

January 29, 2019

Spiky: Curbed has a map.

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The Message Only Becomes More Important Over Time

January 26, 2019

I feel like I read an article on this topic every month or so, but the repetition is okay. The greenest building is the one that already exists and is reused. Or, as Mark Alan Hewitt puts it in Common Edge: Why Reusing Buildings Should Be the Next Big Thing. Existing buildings vastly outnumber new ones, […]

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The Clifton Bridge, Part 3

January 24, 2019

That’s another view from the east, looking across the Avon gorge at the west tower From this angle, the tower looks a bit odd, as if it has shrunk in the wash. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.) The towers for a suspension bridge at a deep gorge are usually shorter overall than those […]

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The Clifton Bridge, Part 1

January 22, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have Bill Harvey give me a tour of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England. I had been to the bridge once before, in 1994, when I spent almost a week hunting down any structure I could find with a connection to I.K. Brunel. The […]

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Book Review: Making Things Right

January 11, 2019

A house in Oslo similar to the one described in the book. Photo by Øyvind Holmstad. Ole Thorstensen is a carpenter in Norway who decided to combine his philosophy of work with a description of a small project in the book Making Things Right. The general idea has been done before – The Soul of a […]

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Window Tracery As Structure

January 10, 2019

When a structural engineer tells a colleague that they are working on a window restoration project, the colleague might say, “But windows are not a structural element in a building, other than keeping wind and weather out.” That statement is correct; if you remove the windows from a building, the structure still stands. However when […]

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Not For Picturesque Reasons

January 4, 2019

A soon-to-not-be-vacant lot on Nassau Street, looking to the northwest. The pinkish brick tower in the center is 220 Broadway, which replaced the St. Paul Building. Once again, a single photo has captured multiple eras, although this time there’s nothing very recent in the shot. But what I want to talk about is the little […]

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