Case Studies

Dattner Architects

Sustainability with Style

Dattner Architects (Dattner) immediately established a reputation for building cutting-edge, high-end civic buildings after its 1964 founding in New York City. Over the next five decades Dattner’s innovative design approach and broad client base has allowed the company to grow to a team of 70, all located in Dattner’s Manhattan office. The team represents a variety experienced professionals, of which 35 Dattner employees are licensed architects and 32 are proud to be recognized LEED Accredited Professionals.

“Since the inception of the firm, we’ve had a commitment to design excellence in the public realm,” says Kirsten Sibilia, chief marketing officer for Dattner. The majority of Dattner’s work is centered in the New York Metropolitan area, and global urban issues such as density, sustainability and technology influence the company’s work.

The company has received over 100 awards for the team’s work in the public sector, including the highest award the state can bestow; Dattner won the Architecture Firm Award from the New York State American Institute of Architects in 2006. The team is proud to be recognized as a pioneer in urban architecture and sustainability.

The team’s attention to detail has not gone unnoticed. Dattner is designing the Number 7 Subway Line Extension in New York City. The extension of the Number 7 line will carry service westward from where it currently ends at Times Square, activating a key new section of Manhattan: the far Westside.

“We have led the architecture and urban design for the Number 7 line extension working closely with Parsons Brinkerhoff Engineers, our clients at Metropolitan Transportation Agency and the Hudson Yards Development Corporation,” says Sibilia. “Together, we are creating a truly 21st century rail station for Manhattan.” The extension is expected to be completed and operational by December 2013. The extension project is large, but the team at Dattner is just as focused on other areas of urban development.

Designing with a Green Palate

Commercial and residential markets in urban areas tend to follow different paths, and Dattner manages to bring a balance of eco-friendly priorities and durable solutions to both markets. The company’s latest achievement for the education community of New York City was completing work on the PS/IS 276 Battery Park City School, which is the greenest public school building in the city’s history. Dattner designed a school that both functions sustainably and teaches sustainability. The school’s design was guided by both the Green Schools Guide, which Dattner authored for the New York City School Construction Authority, and the Battery Park City Sustainable Design Guidelines.

The school boasts a rooftop garden, recycle bins and an in-school weather station where students can monitor the amount of energy generated by the school’s solar panels. “We have a long record of designing benchmark green projects in the public sector, and we are pleased to get the opportunity to continue to help our clients realize their sustainability goals,” says Sibilia.

The team at Dattner doesn’t rest on its laurels, however; the company recently led the design team for a high-performance renovation of an aging federal building in Newark, N.J. “We’ll be wrapping the existing façade of this mid-century modern office building with a new smart facade, upgrading energy performance, improving thermal comfort and transforming the civic presence of New Jersey’s largest federal building,” says Sibilia.

Affordable Energy-efficient Housing

As New York City’s housing market continues to strengthen, Dattner has applied itself to helping rebuild the city in numerous ways. The company recently completed a green retrofit of an apartment complex on 107-145 West 135 Street in Harlem. The 198-unit complex, which was formerly a tenement building, now boasts a new high-performance infrastructure and a rooftop photovoltaic array, reducing energy costs by 25 percent.

The team at Dattner hopes to do more than just design buildings. The team believes that everyone deserves to live, work and learn in well-designed, sustainable facilities. Through the completion of the Harlem project the team rehabilitated affordable housing, creating a better quality of life for the surrounding area. The same ideals and practices were applied to The Via Verde (Green Way) project, which was recently completed in the Bronx.

The Via Verde project was an ambitious undertaking by two developers, Phipps Houses and Jonathan Rose Companies, and two architectural firms, Grimshaw and Dattner. The project was designed for a brownfield site in an under-served area of the Bronx. Via Verde was designed to achieve the LEED NC Gold certification; the project includes photovoltaic, a rainwater harvesting system and high indoor environmental quality.

The Via Verde Bronx housing project contains 222 units comprised in a tower, a mid-rise duplex building and townhouses. A key feature of the Via Verde is its garden, which begins at the ground level courtyard but grows upward through a series of programmed roof gardens, including an orchard and community gardens. The green way culminates on the building’s sky terrace, which features breathtaking views of the city. The Dattner team is proud to note that Via Verde won the Andrew J. Thomas Housing Award from the AIA New York for the inventive design.

Ready to Grow

The firm has pioneered new and exciting projects for New York City, but remains pragmatic in its approach to the changing economy. “The city was hard hit with the economic downturn, and the markets are still shifting,” explains Sibilia. “The competition for new work is stiff; projects are slower to start, and some projects are still on hold. This year, though, is considerably more active than the last few; in fact, we have started hiring again. We have a talented architectural staff that shares our commitment to civic architecture; they are indispensable.”

Dattner also remains loyal to its standby subcontractors. “There is a wonderful, broad consultant pool here in New York City,” relates Sibilia. “We try to spread the work around as much as we can, selecting a subconsultant team with the appropriate experience for each specific project.” Dattner often works with different firms for school, transit and housing projects.

While Dattner has been a constant model for sustainable and affordable housing, the team has not let the fame go to its head. The Dattner team holds onto its original idea that green energy can take root and grow anywhere, and the firm is exploring additional markets. “Our roots will always been in New York City and within the public sector, but we are expanding beyond,” says Sibilia, “We designed a project in Dallas that is under construction and recently completed a project at Princeton University.”

The team at Dattner Architects will continue to break new ground in green architecture and enrich the quality of life in urban areas for years to come, New York City and beyond.

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