Track 3: For Power or For Passage: Re-envisioning Historic Industrial and Transportation Infrastructure

General Abstract

1 - On the Waterfront: The Structural Rehabilitation and Preservation of Brooklyn’s Industrial Coastline

Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC-106AD

In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the long coast of Brooklyn was full of colossal warehouses and factories. Over time, these massive and robust coastal structures became abandoned and derelict. They were too large and expensive to demolish or repair and they barricaded neighborhoods from the riverfront. But, as the real estate climate changed over time, property value increased and developers began to evaluate these buildings within a new context. Several post-industrial waterfront structures have been successfully converted into residential or commercial spaces. Silman has been involved in many of these endeavors and have discovered consistent patterns and themes throughout.

A key element to the success of such a renovation is a clear understanding of the owner’s long term intentions so that a feasibility study and existing conditions assessment can be tailored to meet that end goal.
These buildings are often constructed with historical materials, heavy timber, brick or stone masonry, or reinforced concrete. Silman will discuss the arsenal of tools that have been utilized during the feasibility and assessment of many industrial buildings including: visual surveying, the development of repair details, monitoring, and materials and corrosion testing and how these have informed the owner in determining the cost and risk associated with the adaptive reuse of an industrial building.

Often, due to the high design live loads associated with manufacturing and storage, these buildings have substantial load carrying capacity when compared to commercial or residential occupancy. Load take downs and analytical techniques have been implemented to help capture back some of that excess capacity and evaluate whether additional stories can be added to the existing building without reinforcing the existing structure below.

The insertion of egress stair towers and elevator cores for circulation and code compliance as well as the removal of the load bearing walls or columns to open up the structure to light and air are also common components in these renovations.

Based on past project experience, including the Wythe Hotel, 160 Imlay Street, and Empire Stores, Silman will discuss lessons learned, rules of thumb, what to anticipate and how best to navigate through the renovation of a post-industrial building from feasibility to occupancy.

Learning Objectives:

Justin Den Herder, PE


Justin Den Herder is a licensed engineer and an Associate at Silman where he has practiced for 11 years experience. He has worked extensively on existing building renovations and rehabilitation in New York City and beyond. He is the former editor of SEAoNY Cross Sections magazine and teaches as an adjunct professor at City College's Spitzer School of Architecture.


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Pat Arnett, PE


Pat Arnett joined Silman in 1999 and was named a Principal of the firm in 2017. He has wide ranging experience on adaptive reuse projects and has worked on many industrial buildings in New York City and beyond. He has been a studio consultant at Rice School of Architecture and adjunct professor at Columbia University since 2013. He also serves as a professional mentor for the Manhattan College Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.


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James Banta

Project Manager
National Gallery of Art

James V. Banta is a Construction Project Manager with the Office of Architecture and Engineering at the National Gallery of Art. Previously, he practiced preservation with Chambers, Murphy & Burge, A Studio of Perspectus Architecture in Akron and Cleveland, Ohio and worked for architecture and engineering firms in Washington, DC and New York, NY. James graduated from Connecticut College and has a M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.


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1 - On the Waterfront: The Structural Rehabilitation and Preservation of Brooklyn’s Industrial Coastline

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Send Email for On the Waterfront: The Structural Rehabilitation and Preservation of Brooklyn’s Industrial Coastline