This summer I worked at Scott Henson Architect (, an architecture firm in New York City that specializes in historic preservation. It is a small firm with amazing office space, great people, and wonderful projects that range from facade inspections to adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

When I came in, about two months ago, we received a Request for Proposals for the stabilization of the Renwick Ruin in Roosevelt Island. I was awarded the task of putting it together. Working hand in hand with Scott Henson and Project Manager Nathaniel Schlundt we gathered a team of consultants and developed a strategy for the stabilization of the building.

Smallpox Hospital

The Renwick Ruin, former Smallpox Hospital, is a gothic revival building built in 1854 by architect James Renwick (with two latter additions in 1904-05 by York & Sawyer and Renwick Aspinwall & Owen). The building was abandoned in the 1950’s making it today the only NYC Landmark designated as a ruin. Unfortunately the structure has suffered from years of deferred maintenance that have left it unstable and inaccessible.

Renwick Ruin

With recent development in the island –the Cornell technology campus under construction and the opening of Four Freedoms Park in 2012 –the interest in preserving the decaying ruin is immense, and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy has taken the initiative to begin the process with this RFP. Putting it together I understood what it takes (in terms of tasks, money, people, planning, technology, ethics, and knowledge) to save an extremely fragile and incredibly important building.

Renwick Ruin 2

Besides working on the proposal I went on site inspections and worked on reports and drawings for different projects; I learned about Local Law 11 requirements and procedures, LPC applications, and different restoration and repair techniques. I also photographed projects the firm has worked on and edited them for an update on SHA’s webpage, spending several days in different neighborhoods in Manhattan documenting the buildings. These are some of e photographs:

95 Greene Street
IMG_1327 copy
45 Greene Street
200 Lafayette Street
295 Lafayette Street
66 Leonard Street
355 Greenwich Street
50 West 8th Street
285 Central Park West

This summer I got a glance of the preservation and architecture field in New York: the different projects, firms, and work that are currently shaping the city and defining the future of historic buildings. Scott Henson Architect was a wonderful introduction to the field.