PDA

View Full Version : Brownstoner Slams Scarano



BrooklynRider
March 8th, 2006, 09:45 AM
From Brownstoner.com commenting on NYTimes Story posted immediately following...

March 08, 2006
Another Death on a Scarano-Certified Site

When does coincidence become a pattern? That's the question Robert Scarano should be asking himself this morning. Manipulating building codes and giving the finger to entire communities is one thing; being consistently involved as a certifying architect in projects where workers are injured or killed is another. With news yesterday of Anthony Duncan being crushed by a collapsing wall on a worksite at 733 Ocean Parkway, the Scarano-related death count reached three (207 South 1st and 187 20th Street). We know what he will say (in all capital letters, no doubt): It's the developer's and the contractor's fault, not mine. Okay, we might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in any one isolated incident. What about when it happens twice? Three times?

Even if he has no legal culpability (which we are not in the position to judge), we hope this latest catastrophe will at the very least make Mr. Scarano do a better job of picking his partners. At a certain point, it's like being the grown up who leaves a loaded gun out on the table and then says it's not his fault when a child shoots himself. Mr. Scarano, you must have made enough money that you can stop whoring yourself out to bottom-of-the-barrel clients who cut every corner they can. Please, stop enabling their irresponsible and dangerous behavior. How can you sleep at night?



March 8, 2006
Worker in Brooklyn Dies as a Wall Falls

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and ANN FARMER
A construction worker was killed yesterday morning when a garage wall collapsed at a building site in Brooklyn, investigators said, and the city has cited the building's owner for three violations.

The worker, Anthony Duncan, 46, was removing wooden molds for an underpinning meant to buttress a garage wall next to the construction site at 733 Ocean Parkway when the wall collapsed. Firefighters worked quickly to remove the debris covering Mr. Duncan.

But investigators believe he was killed by the impact of the collapse, said a Fire Department spokesman, Deputy Chief David Jakubowski.

A woman who answered the phone at the A-1 Construction Expo Corporation, a Brooklyn-based general contractor at the site, said Mr. Duncan worked for a subcontractor, but she would not provide its name. Mr. Duncan was helping to excavate the property to make way for an eight-story residential building.

After the fatal accident, the city's Department of Buildings cited the property owner, Viera Novak, and O.P. Equities, a Manhattan company listed on construction applications filed with the department.

One violation was for failure to safeguard the public and property during a building project. The other two were for not having required paperwork available at the site.

Four previous complaints were made against the owner from June 2005 to January of this year, but inspectors found no violations when they visited the site, according to the department's online database.

Ms. Novak did not respond to messages left yesterday at her home and at O.P. Equities.

The collapse remained under investigation, city officials said. Deputy Chief Jakubowski said that firefighters, fearing a second collapse, quickly built a wooden structure to provide more support for what remained of the garage wall. "It was a somewhat tense situation," he said.

Rosalia Rosete, 52, whose husband and son worked with Mr. Duncan, said she knew him as a hard worker. She said her son, Junior Garcia Rosete, 26, screamed for help when the wall collapsed and tried to lift debris off Mr. Duncan.

"It could have happened to all three of them," she said, sitting in her car by the construction site. "It could have happened to my husband or son."

Mr. Duncan, whom co-workers described as a veteran of the construction trade, was born in Pennsylvania and lived in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He wife and children still live in Pennsylvania, according to neighbors.

"He's a hard worker, " said Oscar Seaton, 81, a retired postal worker and a neighbor of Mr. Duncan's. "He's always polite. He never passes without saying: 'Hello, Mr. Seaton. How are you?' "



Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

ryan
March 8th, 2006, 11:10 AM
thems fighting words from the normally calm brownstoner.

lofter1
April 15th, 2006, 10:50 PM
How Big Is Too Big?

http://graphics9.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/16/realestate/16cov450.jpg
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Robert M. Scarano's building at 4 East Third Street
in Manhattan has drawn fire from critics who say
it is too big.

By WILLIAM NEUMAN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=WILLIAM NEUMAN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=WILLIAM NEUMAN&inline=nyt-per)
NY TIMES
Real Estate
April 16, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/realestate/16cov.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

It is not hard to spot the buildings that Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect, has designed in New York City (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo): they tend to be a lot bigger than the other buildings around them.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo), Mr. Scarano's building at 78 Ten Eyck Street is about twice as tall as the modest three-story houses on either side of it. In the East Village, the new building at 4 East Third Street, at the Bowery, rises to 16 stories, far above the other buildings on the block, including a row of 18th-century town houses.

Mr. Scarano has played an active role in the city's current construction boom, particularly in Brooklyn, where he has numerous projects in rapidly changing neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Brighton Beach. His designs have brought him plenty of business from developers rushing to take advantage of rising real estate values.

But the sheer bulk of many of Mr. Scarano's projects has prompted some residents to complain that he ignores the zoning code and puts up buildings that are simply too big, blocking the light and views of their neighbors. And too often, they say, the city has stood by and done nothing.

Stephanie A. Thayer lives in Williamsburg and has been active in protests over a tall building designed by Mr. Scarano that is going up at 144 North Eighth Street. She was also involved in years of community debate that led to a major rezoning in Williamsburg last year, including lower bulk and density restrictions for much of the neighborhood.

In contrast, she said, Mr. Scarano, with his outsize buildings, seems to have "single-handedly rezoned his own little development plots."
Now Mr. Scarano is beginning to draw greater scrutiny.

The city's Buildings Department has accused him of knowingly ignoring building codes or zoning rules in submitting plans for 25 apartment buildings in several Brooklyn neighborhoods. Mr. Scarano was scheduled to attend a hearing on the charges on Thursday, but the hearing has now been postponed. Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, said the agency is continuing to look at other projects submitted by Mr. Scarano.

According to the petition outlining the charges before the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, at least 17 of the buildings cited in the charges were designed with more floor area than was allowed under zoning rules.

At the core of the case prepared by the Buildings Department is the contention that Mr. Scarano abused the honor system that allows architects and engineers to police themselves by approving their own building plans.

Known as the professional certification program, the honor system was instituted under the Giuliani administration and was meant to trim costs by cutting the workload for the city's plan examiners. It was also intended to eliminate obstacles to building in a city where, at the time, construction projects could be delayed for months while builders waited for plans to be approved.

By participating in the professional certification program, architects guarantee to the city that their plans meet zoning and building codes. But the city has experienced a tremendous boom in new construction in the last several years, and officials have begun to worry that the honor system leaves too much room for architects and developers to run roughshod over zoning rules and safety regulations.

In response, the Buildings Department has drafted a series of changes to its disciplinary procedures that would make it easier to pursue architects and engineers who it believes are code scofflaws — one proposal would give the department's commissioner the right to pre-emptively strip them of the right to certify their own plans. The proposed changes were presented to a group of industry members last Tuesday.

If the city succeeds in its case against Mr. Scarano, he will be required to have all his plans approved by city examiners. He would be the first architect in more than a year to be barred from signing off on his own plans under the professional certification program, according to data on disciplinary actions posted online by the Buildings Department.

Ms. Fink said one reason there were few recent cases was that several staff members left the department's investigative unit last year. She said that the unit has since hired more investigators.

The complaint about many of Mr. Scarano's buildings is not that they are too tall or break height restrictions. Instead, the city contends that they are too big in another sense: they exceed limits on square footage, making them too bulky.

The building at 78 Ten Eyck Street, which has 11 condos, is typical of many of the buildings designed by Mr. Scarano. In plans submitted to the city in 2003, he described it as a four-story building. But it is at least 55 feet tall, more typically the height of a five- or six-story building, and it dwarfs its two- and three-story neighbors.

That is because Mr. Scarano included three mezzanine floors, turning the apartments into virtual duplexes, with an upstairs and a downstairs and a double-height ceiling in the living room.

But when it came time to calculate the square footage of the building to show that it qualified under the zoning code's floor-area limits, Mr. Scarano said the mezzanine floors were exempt and subtracted their 2,442 square feet from the total.

The Buildings Department reviewed the plans for 78 Ten Eyck early last year and stopped work on the condo project, informing the developer, Lipe Gross, that the building, which was nearing completion, was too big.

In response, city records show, Mr. Gross paid $200,000 to a neighbor to transfer 2,000 square feet of air rights to his property in an attempt to make the building legal. He has also agreed to make some of the mezzanines smaller, further reducing the building's square footage.

Mr. Gross said that when the issue of the floor area arose last year, Mr. Scarano told him that in his understanding of Buildings Department rules, he was not required to count the mezzanines because the low ceiling height, just over seven feet, exempted them from floor area tabulations. "He was understanding that it was kosher," Mr. Gross said.

Mr. Scarano refused requests for an interview. A lawyer for Mr. Scarano, Raymond T. Mellon, said that neither he nor Mr. Scarano would answer questions related to the disciplinary case before the hearing. Mr. Mellon has filed papers with the city denying the charges and saying that the city's interpretation of the building and zoning rules was subjective.

Gloria Sinchi literally lives in the shadow of 78 Ten Eyck, in a rented apartment in an English basement on Leonard Street. She said her three children no longer play in the small concrete yard behind their apartment. That is partly because of the construction, she said, but more because the yard is now deep in the shadow of its towering neighbor.

The building at 78 Ten Eyck, which is called Tower 78 in marketing materials, occupies an L-shaped lot, and Ms. Sinchi's yard is hemmed in by the two legs of the L, with high walls on both sides. "It's all surrounded," she said.

Mr. Gross took his condos off the market last spring after the city audit. But other condo buildings designed by Mr. Scarano have been completed and are now occupied by new apartment owners.

Mr. Scarano designed the buildings at 63 and 69 Stagg Street in Williamsburg, around the corner from 78 Ten Eyck. Here too, Mr. Scarano described the Stagg Street buildings, in documents filed with the city as 55-foot-tall buildings, each with four stories and three mezzanines. In drawings submitted to the city, Mr. Scarano estimated that the maximum allowable floor area permitted for each of the two buildings was 6,600 square feet.

Nonetheless, the drawings indicate each building has a total of more than 10,000 square feet of space. To account for the difference, Mr. Scarano deducted from his zoning calculations for each building nearly 1,800 square feet of mezzanine space and more than 2,000 square feet of basement space that made up the lower level of a ground-floor duplex. Each building contains eight units.

The Buildings Department audited Mr. Scarano's plans last spring and let the work continue, then gave the buildings certificates of occupancy in July.

But now the city contends in its disciplinary complaint that Mr. Scarano's calculations were faulty and that the mezzanine and the basement space should have been counted as part of the overall floor area of the buildings.

Ms. Fink, the Buildings Department spokeswoman, said the city's investigation of Mr. Scarano applies only to the drawings and other documents he submitted. In some cases, she said, zoning violations may have been addressed to bring the buildings into compliance before they were completed. But she said she was not permitted to discuss details of the projects, including the status of finished buildings like the ones on Stagg Street.

While several of the buildings have been completed, some are under construction and work on others has not yet begun. Ms. Fink said the city would eventually have to consider what to do with completed buildings that may have too much floor area or may contain other violations.

The mezzanine has become something of a Scarano signature and has made Mr. Scarano's services very much in demand. Developers, as a rule, are eager to maximize the square footage of their buildings, and in many cases, Mr. Scarano's mezzanines have given them a way to do just that.

Mr. Scarano has been prolific in recent years, and an analysis of Buildings Department data online suggests that the buildings cited in the city's case may be part of a broader pattern. According to the online data, Mr. Scarano has submitted plans for at least 299 new buildings in Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo), Brooklyn, Queens (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/queens/?inline=nyt-geo) and Staten Island (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/statenisland/?inline=nyt-geo) since the early 1990's; 44 of those have been completed.

Among Mr. Scarano's filings are plans for about 150 buildings containing one or more mezzanines, virtually all of those coming in the last six years. Approximately two-thirds of the buildings with mezzanines are described in Mr. Scarano's filings as having four stories and being at least 54 feet tall, suggesting the designs have similarities to the Ten Eyck and Stagg Street projects already targeted in the city's investigation.

Mr. Scarano has incorporated mezzanines into plans for much larger buildings as well. One of his more ambitious projects is a 172-foot-tall condo tower with medical offices planned for 62 Brighton Second Place in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, in an area of mostly one- and two-story bungalows. Each of the proposed building's 10 apartments has a mezzanine with a terrace and bathroom.

But in zoning calculations submitted with his drawings, Mr. Scarano deducted more than a third of the building's total residential square footage, including all the mezzanine space. In this way, a 14,000-square-foot building manages to squeeze into a 9,024-square-foot zoning envelope. The building is not one of those cited in the city's disciplinary case against Mr. Scarano, and the project was issued a preliminary permit in January.

Whether mezzanines should be counted for zoning purposes will most likely be a major issue when an administrative law judge decides the case involving Mr. Scarano. Zoning rules include mezzanines in a list of building features that must be counted as floor area. But there is at least one exception. The Buildings Department's guidelines for architects and engineers say that mezzanines intended as storage space can be omitted from floor-area calculations if they have ceiling heights of five feet or less and are accessible only by a ladder.

Mr. Scarano routinely labels mezzanines as storage space in his drawings and related documents. But in case after case, they contain windows and bathrooms or laundry rooms, are reached by a staircase and are clearly intended as living space.

While neighborhood residents accuse Mr. Scarano of breaking the rules, other developers ask if the rules are being applied evenly. Kris Corey is completing construction of a pair of four-story rental buildings at 264 and 268 Devoe Street in Williamsburg. In recent months he has watched as another developer put up a building designed by Mr. Scarano at 270 Devoe next door.

Mr. Scarano's building — described in filings with the city as four stories with two mezzanines — is taller than Mr. Corey's buildings and appears to have substantially more square footage.

Mr. Corey said he asked his own architect about the difference. "I said to him, 'Did we shortchange ourselves?' " Mr. Corey recounted. "And he said, 'You're built to the max by the letter of the law.' "

"It's not fair," Mr. Corey said. "If he's allowed to do it, why couldn't we?"

Mr. Scarano's building on Devoe Street has not been audited by the city and is not included in the Buildings Department case.

Kevin Shea, a lawyer and expediter who helps architects and building owners negotiate the labyrinth of zoning rules and Buildings Department procedures, has been waging a campaign against Mr. Scarano's 16-story building on East Third Street at the Bowery.

Along the way, he said, he has confronted what he contends is a willingness of the Buildings Department to ignore apparent zoning violations or to find creative ways to make zoning rules fit Mr. Scarano's building, rather than the other way around.

Mr. Shea submitted a brief to the city's Board of Standards and Appeals last November detailing numerous objections to the building, which he says has many zoning violations and substantially more square footage than should be allowed. This building is also separate from the city's disciplinary case with Mr. Scarano, and largely involves different zoning issues.

To what degree it may be overbuilt depends partly on what the building is used for. That is because the zoning rules allow different amounts of square footage for apartments, for which it was originally designed, than for hotel rooms, for which it is currently being reconfigured.

Mr. Shea contends that it is too big in any case. "I think four floors should come off the top," he said.

An interest in the building was sold last year to the group of developers that created the fashionable Maritime Hotel on West 16th Street at Ninth Avenue. They hired a new architect and a zoning lawyer, and have been in discussions with Mr. Shea and city officials.

"This doesn't seem to be an egregious violation of the zoning," said Richard Born, one of the new investors in the project. "There are issues, but they seem to be resolvable."

Mr. Shea was reluctant to be quoted as saying anything critical of the Buildings Department, since he works with it on a regular basis, but he said he felt compelled to speak up about Mr. Scarano and what he sees as a willingness of officials to bend the rules.

Mr. Shea said he first notified the Buildings Department in May 2004 that he believed there were problems with the design of the East Third Street building. The department conducted an audit that raised numerous concerns, but after a brief halt, city officials let work proceed, and the building is now largely completed.

In his brief submitted to the Board of Standards and Appeals, Mr. Shea accuses the Buildings Department of coining novel interpretations of its own rules in an effort to let Mr. Scarano's building stand. "If the answer to how big a building is or what you can do in the construction industry is 'whatever you can get away with,' then I'm out of business," Mr. Shea said.

He said the Buildings Department had "lost control" of the honor system that allows architects and engineers to sign off on their own work. "The program rests on a promise and a threat," he said. "The promise is that of the professional, that his plans conform to the code and the zoning resolution.

And the threat is that, if the Buildings Department finds out otherwise, they're either going to discipline the architect or order remedial measures to bring the building into compliance.

"Four East Third Street is what happens when an empty promise is met by an empty threat."

For the Record

The main front-page article in the Real Estate section today, about Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect who has been accused by the New York City Buildings Department of ignoring building codes or zoning rules when submitting plans for his projects, misstates the number of sites named in a disciplinary action against him. It is 25, not 26.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

ablarc
April 16th, 2006, 09:56 AM
This guy will lose his license, and probably deserves to.


* * *
Btw, most of Scarano's stuff doesn't look bad. The Third Street building in the photo would look better if the tower were fenestrated --even with fake windows.

I know, I know...he was thinking of similar towers in Bologna and San Gimignano...

lofter1
April 16th, 2006, 11:38 AM
The green protective scrim has come off of the Bowery / 3rd "tower" and the facade work is quite an improvement: multi-toned brown brick with "iron"-looking windows with multiple small panes (think classic 30's NYC windows).

It's still a monster of a building for that area -- as is the dorm building that went up nearby a few years ago using similar zoning trickery.

Plus: On a building this size to hide the water tower within a structure as they have done here only increases the mass of the building --and serves no other positive purpose.

ablarc
April 16th, 2006, 11:43 AM
On a building this size to hide the water tower within a structure as they have done here only increases the mass of the building --and serves no other positive purpose.
With just a little additional thought, it could.

The rest of the building integrates rather nicely with its surroundings, which would benefit from a slight hike in average size. There are plenty of fat lumps elsewhere that would make better targets for railing against.

lofter1
April 16th, 2006, 11:54 AM
I know, I know...he was thinking of similar towers in Bologna and San Gimignano...
If so then either he has a really bad eye or is just talent-free -- as this has none of the grace or grandeur of those old towers.

Yeah, yeh one could say "But he was limited by zoning" --

Seemingly that doesn't faze him -- and if an idea can't be executed with some integrity then perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board.

ablarc
April 16th, 2006, 12:00 PM
If so then either he has a really bad eye or is just talent-free -- as this has none of the grace or grandeur of those old towers.

Yeah, yeh one could say "But he was limited by zoning" --

Seemingly that doesn't faze him -- and if an idea can't be executed with some integrity then perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board.
Folks often blame architects for the sins of others. You'd be amazed how little control architects actually have over their final product.

sfenn1117
April 16th, 2006, 12:21 PM
A couple things I'd like to say about the article:

It's obvious that Scarano is getting away with things that he should not be. However, people are complaining way too much. Example: Tower 78 is 55 feet tall, and the next door neighbor is complaining that she is walled in on 2 sides of her yard. Fair enough. But, zoning allows it to be 40 feet tall. What is the big difference over that 15 feet? Honestly, it's not a big deal.

Example 2: The person who wants 4 floors chopped off the E 3rd St tower. How much of a difference is that going to make?

I hate that Scarano is cheating on his projects, but at the same time, most of them look great. He is a fantastic modern architect which is badly needed in Brooklyn, with the onslaught of a million Fedders buildings ruining the streetscape. At least we get something good from him, unlike Radusky who cheats and puts up the ugliest buildings in the city.

The 172 foot tower in Brighton Beach may be pushing the limit, though. That, next to 1 story bungalows, is a big deal, and residents may have a point on that one.

So what are they going to do with these completed buildings that have broken the law? They cannot be taken down, can they?

ablarc
April 16th, 2006, 12:36 PM
So what are they going to do with these completed buildings that have broken the law? They cannot be taken down, can they?
Developer had to remove top floor of a building in Boston; he thought authorities wouldn't keep count.

lofter1
April 16th, 2006, 01:00 PM
In 1993 NYC DOB made a developer remove 12 stories on a building that had been "over-built" on the upper east side:

Fewer Stories and More Sky on Upper East Side

By DAVID W. DUNLAP
NY TIMES
March 2, 1993

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE7DF1F3AF931A35750C0A9659582 60

Demolition crews are cutting an Upper East Side apartment tower down to size -- the size required by New York City's zoning rules.

The removal of the top 12 floors from the 31-story building at 108 East 96th Street, which has never been occupied, ends a seven-year battle that pitted the developer, Laurence Ginsberg, against city officials and local leaders who noticed that the tower plans exceeded zoning limits.

"It marks the first time that a skyscraper in New York City has been reduced in height due to a zoning violation," said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat who has represented the neighborhood both in the City Council and now in Congress.

"It serves notice to every developer that the zoning laws of our city will be enforced," she said...

lofter1
April 16th, 2006, 01:16 PM
How Big Is Too Big?

... Mr. Scarano was scheduled to attend a hearing on the charges on Thursday, but the hearing has now been postponed.

... officials have begun to worry that the honor system leaves too much room for architects and developers to run roughshod over zoning rules and safety regulations.

Ms. Fink said one reason there were few recent cases was that several staff members left the department's investigative unit last year. She said that the unit has since hired more investigators.

What's up with that?

Early retirement?

Tom-foolery?

Investigative reporters: Follow the Money ...

sfenn1117
April 16th, 2006, 09:43 PM
So with the UES tower, no one had yet moved in.

There are people in Scarano's buildings.

I think the buildings should remain as they are if occupied, since it would be unfair to buyers, however, Scarano should be charged big, big fines.

BrooklynRider
April 21st, 2006, 09:54 AM
DUMBO-based Architect Deplores
Sameness, Uniformity; Prefers a Mix

Robert Scarano Responds to Charges He is
Ignoring Building Codes, Zoning Rules’
By Linda Collins

DUMBO — “We’re trying to raise the standards of what has been the typical residential unit in the city and in Brooklyn,” Robert J. Scarano Jr. of Scarano Architects told the Brooklyn Eagle yesterday. Scarano, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, is an award-winning successful architect with over 300 projects currently in the borough. He’s just going through a spate of bad press and difficulties with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) right now.

Several blogs and an article that appeared in The New York Times Sunday are taking him to task for his “too big” buildings,for including mezzanines (or lofts) in his units and not including their square footage, and for “ignoring building codes and zoning rules.”

Does he feel he is ignoring building codes and zoning rules? “We’re not. We can’t, and we won’t,” he said. Why does he build tall buildings? “Because it’s permitted. If it wasn’t permitted, I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said Scarano, pointing out that developers obviously want to build what they can build and, given a small lot footprint, it often means he must go higher.

But Scarano believes it’s OK to have a mix of height and bulk on one block.

“I don’t think there should be uniformity and sameness,” he said. “Tall and small, bulky and less bulky, side by side, I think it’s nice.”

The whole idea of the loft apartment was to have flexible space and more space, according to Scarano. “If you’re allowed 60 percent lot coverage and 55 feet in height and the allowable floor area is a 2.0 FAR and that gives you three-and-a-half floors, what do you do with the extra height? We pushed that into the living spaces, creating double-height units with mezzanines. And you want that space in the living room and dining room and maybe the main bedroom, but not in the other rooms (kitchens, baths, home office etc). And we were allowed to exclude the mezzanines from the floor area based on memorandums that were circulating in the 1980s,” he said.

“Everyone likes them and they bring higher prices,” he added. “It’s a tremendous profit source. It’s also good for the city. The city gets revenue for it. And at the end of the day, they get the tax revenues, too,” he said, explaining that those can be $20,000 from a rental building, but $70,000 from condos.

Regarding the hearings he is facing now at the DOB and the threat to the self-certification process for architects, he appears somewhat philosophical.

“It’s a very esoteric conversation going on right now. We’ve had a great relationship over the years with them [the DOB] and we’ve been following what they’ve been doing for 27 years and there’s been a great deal of respect for us. But there’s so much outside pressure on them right now,” he said.

The self-certification process was put in place during the Giuliani Administration when it was decided that the more qualified architects could be given more power and the city could streamline the permit process, according to Scarano.

“Since then the City was typically looking at 10 percent of the jobs but suddenly began to find some egregious problems — not the mezzanines, more serious stuff — so now it’s grinding to a halt,” Scarano said.

“The hearing basically is to find out if we can do our jobs without a review. But at the end of the day, the self-certification issue may already be dead,” he continued, explaining that banks and lenders will back off; they are not feeling comfortable with funding a project where there may be questions. So, regarding self-certification, it will be a moot point.”

One positive outcome Scarano sees is that the issue of mezzanines will be clarified.

“I think they’ll come to terms in finding more definitive answers on it, and I think they will try to clarify the language so that we as architects will know exactly what will be permitted.”

Asked if there is overbuilding in Brooklyn, he said, “No, not at all. We have a tremendous way to go before we’re overbuilding. If we were overbuilding, the prices would be dropping. The reason that prices are remaining up is that there’s still such a demand.”

Meanwhile, he has his vision for Brooklyn: the need for more for-sale affordable housing; and filling in for the very old housing stock that’s existed for the last 50 years without much change, primarily the old three- and four-story multi-family wood frame buildings.

“Obviously, a four-story fireproof multi-family building is a better built building,” he said.

But more than that, he is pleased with the designs that come out of his firm, which has over 60 architects.

This newspaper has reported several times in the past that Scarano’s firm was the recipient of architectural design awards — from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the AIA and, most notably, the five he won in one year as part of the Ninth Annual Design Awards Competition sponsored by the New York Council of the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA), which included the following: two Awards of Merit (for 171 N. 7th St. in Williamsburg and The Arches at Cobble Hill); one Award of Honor (for The Toy Factory Lofts at 176 Johnson St. in Downtown Brooklyn); and two Awards of Special Recognition (for 2908 Emmons Ave. in Sheepshead Bay and the Greenpoint Redevelopment Plan). In 2005, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz presented a “Brooklyn Icon Award” to Scarano, saying he “truly represented faith in Brooklyn.” “And keep doing what you’ve been doing, creating a unique architectural statement for Brooklyn,” Markowitz said at the event, a gathering of developers, architects and builders which took place at Scarano Architects’ DUMBO offices.

To the assembled guests, Markowitz said, “You are the bedrock, you’re rolling the dice, you’re spending your money because you believe that Brooklyn is strong enough of an investment. And saying that, we must make sure that the middle class, all economic classes, can continue to live here. Brooklyn has the greatest diversity — ethnic diversity and economic diversity — of any city in the entire northeast and we want to keep it that way. All of you are brilliant, all of you are creative, you can make this happen.”

Said Scarano, “We’re very proud of these awards. It shows we’re building quality projects.”



© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2006

ablarc
April 21st, 2006, 10:07 AM
Scarano's stuff mostly looks pretty good. He's a much better than average architect, regardless of what he may or may not be getting away with. The two are separate issues. He may or may not have ethical problems, but aesthetically he's on firm ground. I agree with his visual judgments; if they do indeed violate zoning, maybe the zoning needs to be rethought --as is so often the case.

lofter1
May 28th, 2006, 08:59 AM
More Accusations Against Architect

New York Times
May 28, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/28/realestate/28deal1.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

The city has expanded its investigation of an architect, Robert M. Scarano Jr., accusing him of failing to take proper steps to guarantee safe conditions at a building site in Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo). A worker was killed in the collapse of a garage wall at the site on Ocean Parkway last March.

In papers filed on Tuesday with the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, the Buildings Department also charged that Mr. Scarano failed to protect neighboring buildings from damage during excavation work on at least four other projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo).

The Buildings Department contends that plans submitted by Mr. Scarano for an apartment building at 733 Ocean Parkway lacked "design data" meant to ensure the stability of the adjoining garage. Investigators said the supports holding up the garage gave way on March 7, and a wall tumbled onto a worker, Anthony Duncan, 46, killing him.

The papers also charge that Mr. Scarano failed to make required inspections on the site, although they do not make clear whether he was required to inspect the garage supports. Mr. Scarano has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing in connection with the accident.

The Buildings Department is seeking to bar Mr. Scarano from a program that allows architects to sign off on their own building plans without agency review. In February, the department charged him with violating zoning or building codes on 25 projects in Brooklyn, including several cases in which it alleged that new buildings he designed were larger than they should have been.

The new charges represent an expansion of the earlier case. An administrative trial has been scheduled for July 12.

In the new accusations, the Buildings Department contends that Mr. Scarano's plans failed to meet safety requirements during excavation of at least four other building sites where neighboring structures were damaged. They are 4 East Third Street in Manhattan and three addresses in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn: 96 Diamond Street, 72 Huron Street and 409-413 Broadway.

Mr. Scarano's lawyer, Raymond T. Mellon, did not respond to three requests for comment. In March, Mr. Scarano's lawyers filed papers denying the previous round of charges.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

BrooklynRider
August 4th, 2006, 10:10 AM
I view this as my vindication:


Scarano Cuts Deal, Gives Up Self-Certification

August 4, 2006 -- Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect who has been active during Brooklyn’s construction boom, agreed this week to settle charges brought by the Buildings Department that he violated zoning rules or building codes in the design of more than two dozen apartment buildings. The city said that many of his buildings were larger than allowed by zoning, and it also charged that he failed to guarantee safe conditions at a construction site where a worker was killed in March. Mr. Scarano agreed to drop out of a program that allows architects to approve their own plans without regular review from the Buildings Department. His building designs will now have to be approved by city examiners. The settlement specified that it was not an admission of guilt or liability by Mr. Scarano.

William Neuman 2006 The New York Times

lofter1
August 4th, 2006, 10:19 AM
I view this as my vindication:

Scarano Cuts Deal, Gives Up Self-Certification

... Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect who has been active during Brooklyn’s construction boom, agreed this week to settle charges brought by the Buildings Department that he violated zoning rules or building codes ...

The settlement specified that it was not an admission of guilt or liability by Mr. Scarano.

Ha ha hee hee ... How the mighty have fallen.

I do take some glee in this as I was the recipient of some really nasty PMs from one of the Scarano gang when this issue was originally raised here at wny.

"Not an admission of guilt or liability" indeed.

That ^^ might protect the Scarano firm from some civil claims, but this will kick Scarano et al in the pocket book -- as self-certification streamlines the building process.

Without the ability to self-certify many developers will say "thanks, but no thanks" when Scarano comes knocking.

Scarano deserves to be bitch-slapped for his violations of the public trust.

Derek2k3
August 4th, 2006, 03:09 PM
This kind of sucks being that the firm designs the most interesting new buildings in Brooklyn.

ablarc
August 4th, 2006, 03:21 PM
This kind of sucks being that the firm designs the most interesting new buildings in Brooklyn.
Yup.

lofter1
August 4th, 2006, 05:02 PM
A round-up of the Scarano Saga before he gave up his "self-certification" rights (but admitted no "guilt or liability") ...

Scarano's Story

BrooklynRamblings (http://brooklynramblings.blogspot.com/2006/08/scaranos-story.html)
August 3, 2006

My post yesterday (http://brooklynramblings.blogspot.com/2006/08/eyesore-on-12th-st-4th-ave-soon-to-be.html) was the first time I’d heard of Scarano Architects, who are submitting plans to build on the corner of 4th Ave & 12th St. For those of you who are catching up along with me, here's the 411 on one of the biggest and most controversial developers in Brooklyn.

http://www.lyonsmith.com/images/Grand-ave..jpg (http://www.lyonsmith.com/images/Grand-ave..jpg)

Charges are currently pending against Scarano for his practice of counting mezzanine space as “storage areas,” allowing him to put up buildings that are larger than zoning allows, and out of proportion to the neighborhood. The city's Buildings Department has accused him of knowingly ignoring building codes and zoning rules. If he is found to have abused the honor system that allows architects and engineers to police themselves by approving their own building plans, he will lose the right to sign off on building plans without city review.

More:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/16/realestate/16cov162.jpg (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/16/realestate/16cov162.jpg)

How Big Is Too Big? (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/realestate/16cov.html?ex=1154750400&en=affafbc1b21cc1bd&ei=5070) “It is not hard to spot the buildings that Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect, has designed in New York City: they tend to be a lot bigger than the other buildings around them.” [NY Times]

City Charges Architect with Super-Sizing His Designs, Say Robert Scarano Used Loopholes to Build Big (http://www.brooklynpapers.com/html/issues/_vol29/29_16/29_16nets6.html) [The Brooklyn Papers, 4/22/06]

With 100s of Projects, Scarano Remakes B'klyn (http://www.therealdeal.net/issues/May_2005/1114618682.php): “We're embroiled in a lot of controversy right now because we're pushing the envelope," Scarano said. [The Real Deal, 5/05]

Despite Steel Scare, Finger Stays At Ten (http://www.greenpointstar.com/StoryDisplay.asp?NewsStoryID=4140&PID=3): Williamsburg building at 144 North 8th Street to remain 10 stories. [Queens Ledger, 7/20/06]

Real Estate Justice: Scarano Gets Nailed (http://brooklynramblings.blogspot.com/2006/08/nyc.metblogs.com/archives/2006/04/real_estate_jus.phtml) [Metroblogging NYC, 4/06]

More Charges Hit Architect (http://www.brooklynpapers.com/html/issues/_vol29/29_23/29_23nets9.html): Scarano investigated for negligence in the death of a construction worker last year. [The Brooklyn Papers, 6/10/06]

Scarano in W'burg: On Hold or Not? (http://brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2006/08/scarano_in_wbur.html): DOB puts 2 Scarano buildings on hold, but reports are that people are moving in. [Brooklyn Record, 8/2/06]

BrooklynRider
August 7th, 2006, 07:23 PM
This kind of sucks being that the firm designs the most interesting new buildings in Brooklyn.

It could also be viewed as the perfect opportunity for other creative firms to step in and provide strong designs and trustworthy certification.

ablarc
August 7th, 2006, 07:45 PM
It could also be viewed as the perfect opportunity for other creative firms to step in and provide strong designs and trustworthy certification.
He'd be replaced by hacks. From the standpoint of what most folks care about on this forum --buildings that enhance the environment-- we'd be among the losers.

Sure, the buildings were a bit bigger than the zoning allowed, but that was among the things that made them better than average. We don't need to be clucking sanctimoniously about his circumvention of some pretty questionable laws; it's like getting bent out of shape about people smoking pot.

Big deal.

lofter1
August 7th, 2006, 10:32 PM
It goes beyond just building bigger than anyone else is allowed to ...

More Charges Hit Architect (http://www.brooklynpapers.com/html/issues/_vol29/29_23/29_23nets9.html): Scarano investigated for negligence in the death of a construction worker last year.



The latest charges, filed by the Department of Buildings last month, contend that Scarano failed to guarantee safe construction and insure the stability of neighboring structures, like the garage wall that toppled on Duncan.

The Department of Buildings also charged Scarano with negligence at three job sites in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, where excavations overseen by the architect left adjacent dwellings “structurally unsound.”

If the DOB wins, the architect will lose his ability to “self-certify” his designs

ablarc
August 7th, 2006, 10:50 PM
^ That negligence charge is an outcome of the first charge and is included for nuisance value; that's how architectural registration boards operate.

The modest importance they attach to it is reflected in the fact that the most Scarano stands to lose is self-certification --a right that architects in other jurisdictions don't have anyway and which he clearly abused, for what it's worth.

Other architects almost certainly do the same, but they don't design comparably handsome buildings. Scarano's infractions just got so highly visible that the board had to take some action.

Architects don't guarantee the safety of construction sites in the real world; if they did you could be sure they'd at least lose their license if someone were killed.

This is a slap on the hand, and that's all it merits.

lofter1
August 13th, 2006, 06:18 PM
Other architects almost certainly do the same, but they don't design comparably handsome buildings. Scarano's infractions just got so highly visible that the board had to take some action.

Could this \/ \/ possibly be one of the "comparably handsome buildings" that Scarano should be lauded for ??????????

http://graphics10.nytimes.com/images/2005/03/18/realestate/20willi_slide7.jpg
Robert M. Scarano Jr. and Scarano Architects
Ten Eyck: Tower 78, at 78 Ten Eyck Street.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Companyhttp://graphics10.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

ablarc
August 13th, 2006, 07:01 PM
^ Exceptions don't disprove generalizations.

ZippyTheChimp
August 13th, 2006, 07:15 PM
Wow, what is that?

Looks like a boutique correctional facility.

ablarc
August 13th, 2006, 07:41 PM
Looks like a boutique correctional facility.
...cum electrical substation.

BrooklynRider
August 14th, 2006, 11:44 AM
One of the many things plopped down in Williamsburg, where apparaently there is no "context" for new designs to follow.

BrooklynRider
May 15th, 2007, 11:00 PM
From Curbed.com

Your input, please: architect Robert Scarano's Wikipedia page [Wikipedia]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Scarano_Jr.

I remember not too long ago the accusations that were posted here about his abuse of self-certification, which we felt was enough to strip him of his license, if not criminal. We had a scoop back then.

lofter1
May 16th, 2007, 10:30 AM
Most likely you remember that at that time some of us who were making inquiries into Scarano's activities received PM's here from someone presenting themselves as a Scarano representative in which threatening statements were made against us for bringing up what appeared to be questionable business practices on Scarano's part..

Fabrizio
May 16th, 2007, 10:55 AM
For various personal reasons I have to bow out here.

(It's an Italian thing...)

BrooklynRider
May 16th, 2007, 11:00 AM
I do recall that. In retrospect, it seems we cut right to the bone and had it EXACTLY right. When a report says criminal charges were not brought, it implies that there was a question as to whether they would be or not. We've certainly heard of people engaged in criminal activities in other circumstances, who have cut a deal, not unlike Scarano's. You give up "X" and we won't charge you.

Can anyone recall any single architect who had the privilege of self-certification revoked? I've heard of FAR being pushed, but I can't recall any architect or architectural firm who the city trusted so little as to revoke this privilege. I'm wondering how bad and unethical an architect's behavior has to be to have this happen? How much blatant disregard for the law, tenant safety, worker safety, and the law does it take? Then one has to presume that the staff at Scarano endorses and participates in this kind of unprofessional and unethical behavior.

pianoman11686
June 12th, 2008, 05:14 PM
City Takes Action Against Brooklyn Architect

By Sewell Chan
June 12, 2008, 1:46 pm

Updated, 4:01 p.m. | Administrative charges have been filed against Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect who built his career during Brooklyn’s construction boom, alleging that he made false or misleading statements on applications submitted to the Buildings Department in connection with two projects in Greenpoint, the authorities announced on Thursday.

The administrative charges — which could result in the suspension or revocation of Mr. Scarano’s ability to file documents with the Buildings Department — involve documents for two Brooklyn apartment houses that Mr. Scarano filed with the Buildings Department in 2000 and 2002. The city’s Buildings and Investigation Departments said in a joint statement:

Scarano is alleged to have improperly divided a zoning lot into two smaller lots for the two new buildings, 158 Freeman Street and 1037 Manhattan Avenue, resulting in the construction of two noncompliant buildings. With the two independent zoning lots, 158 Freeman Street could not have been legally built at all as a residential building and 1037 Manhattan Avenue as designed would have been smaller by approximately 2,000 square feet.

Both buildings are in Greenpoint, a neighborhood historically known for its large Polish immigrant community but now associated with the forces of gentrification.

In the wake of two fatal crane accidents this year that resulted in the ouster of the city’s buildings commissioner, the city has stepped up efforts to improve construction safety and to scrutinize every step of the building process.

“We will not tolerate anyone who knowingly attempts to mislead the Department with false documents,” said Robert D. LiMandri, acting commissioner of the Buildings Department. “Our Special Enforcement Team is identifying repeat offenders and building cases against them. Flouting building and zoning regulations undermines the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and we will continue to identify and hold accountable individuals who abuse the rules.”

Under a state new law, Mr. Scarano was charged with knowingly or negligently filing false or misleading documents with the Buildings Department and displaying negligence, incompetence or lack of knowledge with regard to building and zoning regulations. The law allows the buildings commissioner to exclude licensed architects from filing applications for permits if they are found to have knowingly or negligently submitted false documents. Mr. Scarano may respond to the charges and present a defense to an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Tribunals and Hearings.

It was not the first time Mr. Scarano has run into trouble with the city.

In 2006, he agreed to settle charges brought by the Buildings Department that he violated zoning rules or building codes in the design of more than two dozen apartment buildings. The city said that many of his buildings were larger than allowed by zoning, and it also charged that he failed to guarantee safe conditions at a construction site where a worker was killed in March. Mr. Scarano agreed to drop out of a program that allows architects to approve their own plans without regular review from the Buildings Department.

Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn Democrat who has been at the heart of efforts to remove Mr. Scarano from a project at 360 Smith Street, in Carroll Gardens, issued a statement in response to the filing of the administrative charges:

"It is about time that Robert Scarano is held accountable for his illegal and dangerous actions. Scarano is the worst example of an architect who continues to build in this city despite his long history of violating zoning and building codes and practicing unsafe construction.

Almost one year ago to date, I joined community activists calling on the State Education Department to revoke Scarano’s license because of his shoddy track record. Once again, I am calling on the State to revoke Scarano’s license. What more do we need to know about his record of lies to determine that he should not be permitted to operate in our city?

It is critical that developers and architects around the city know that they cannot operate above the law. Nobody gets a pass on unlawful activities, especially those that endanger the lives of our citizens. Scarano’s constant law breaking and falsification of documents and statements is inexcusable."

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/city-takes-action-against-brooklyn-architect/index.html?hp)

lofter1
June 12th, 2008, 11:42 PM
he who laughs last ... :p

Merry
March 4th, 2010, 05:29 AM
Controversial Architect Is Barred by City

By KAREEM FAHIM

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/03/04/nyregion/04scarano_CA0/04scarano_CA0-popup.jpg
Robert M. Scarano Jr. was accused of making false or misleading statements about plans for an L-shape lot at Manhattan Avenue and Freeman Street to build "bigger structures."

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/03/04/nyregion/04scarano_CA1/04scarano_CA1-popup.jpg
One of the buildings by Mr. Scarano, at 57-59 Maspeth Avenue, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, dwarfs its neighbors.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/03/04/nyregion/04scarano_CA2/04scarano_CA2-popup.jpg
Some Scarano buildings, like 78 Ten Eyck Street, have mezzanines. Whether they count in the buildings' size is disputed. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/03/04/nyregion/04scarano_CA3/04scarano_CA3-popup.jpg
Two other Scarano buildings, at 63 and 69 Stagg Street in Brooklyn, also raised the mezzanine issue.

Robert M. Scarano Jr., a Brooklyn architect who has long been criticized by community groups for flouting zoning laws, was barred by the Department of Buildings on Wednesday from filing construction plans — threatening, at least temporarily, his ability to work as an architect in the city.

The order, which applies both to pending applications that Mr. Scarano has before the Buildings Department and to any new ones he might want to file, came after a scathing recommendation by an administrative law judge, who found that he had made numerous false statements about three properties in Brooklyn.

The judge, Joan R. Salzman, accused Mr. Scarano of “deliberately overbuilding” and said some of his filings were “so deceptive that they call to mind out-and-out fraud.”

“False filings lead to chaos,” she wrote. Mr. Scarano, the fourth architect to be barred from submitting documents under a 2007 state law, did not return calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman, Linda Alexander, said in a statement that his company, Scarano Architect PLLC, “is pursing all avenues available to reverse the erroneous rulings that were issued today.”

Mr. Scarano’s lawyer, Raymond T. Mellon, said he would most likely challenge the constitutionality of the 2007 law, which authorizes the city to bar licensed architects.

In the building boom of the last decade, Mr. Scarano emerged as one of Brooklyn’s more prolific and controversial architects, a favored choice of developers looking to capitalize on rising real estate values but the scourge of many community groups, who complained that his buildings dwarfed the structures around them, blocking views and sunlight. Now, city officials have found that they also often dwarfed the plans Mr. Scarano filed to get them built.

“Mr. Scarano repeatedly submitted false documents in an attempt to circumvent the law and have illegal buildings approved,” the buildings commissioner, Robert D. LiMandri, said. “Licensed professionals must understand they have an obligation to follow the law so the safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods are not compromised.”

The current charges grew out of a 2008 inquiry by the city’s Department of Investigation and the Buildings Department. In 2006, the city brought charges against Mr. Scarano claiming that he violated zoning rules or building codes in the design of more than two dozen apartment buildings, many in Williamsburg, and also that he failed to guarantee safe conditions at a building site on Ocean Parkway where a worker was killed in a wall collapse. The charges were settled.

The city’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, who opposed projects that Mr. Scarano designed in Carroll Gardens when Mr. De Blasio represented the neighborhood in the City Council, called the decision gratifying. He seemed to always have nine lives and get away with it.” Mr. De Blasio said.

The implications for Mr. Scarano’s firm and its current projects were not immediately clear; another licensed architect in the office could, in theory, submit the firm’s applications and building plans. The firm’s Web site says it handles 300 projects a year. Mr. Scarano has said that 99 percent of his work was in New York City.

Despite complaints about dozens of his projects in recent years, Mr. Scarano was ultimately brought down by his work on just three buildings, including one project, at 145 Snediker Street in East New York, where the issue was a lamppost.

Judge Salzman found that Mr. Scarano took pictures that falsely gave the impression that a lamppost was farther away from a driveway than it actually was.

“I find that the only purpose of respondent’s peculiar photographs was to try to elicit a final construction approval to which respondent’s client was in no way entitled,” she wrote, “and, in short, to deceive the department, or, in common parlance, to ‘put one over’ on the department, to ‘pull a fast one.’ ”

Mr. Scarano was also cited for a raft of false or misleading statements in plans he submitted for an L-shape lot at Freeman Street and Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, in order to build bigger structures than were permitted. “These were not inadvertent errors,” the judge wrote. “Respondent knew what he was doing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/nyregion/04scarano.html?ref=realestate

BrooklynLove
March 4th, 2010, 06:45 AM
Whoa, this is huge. If it holds up, he's basically out of business, and all of his (still remaining) employees are unemployed.

lofter1
March 4th, 2010, 08:43 AM
This action by the City puts this locked WNY thread on Scarano (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7609&) in a whole new context.

lofter1
March 4th, 2010, 08:45 AM
Whoa, this is huge. If it holds up, he's basically out of business, and all of his (still remaining) employees are unemployed.

Not necessarily ...



The implications for Mr. Scarano’s firm and its current projects were not immediately clear; another licensed architect in the office could, in theory, submit the firm’s applications and building plans.

Stroika
March 4th, 2010, 10:06 AM
Scarano's really not so bad. I actually dig his aesthetic.

If they want to ban an architect, Kaufman is the one to start with.

lofter1
March 4th, 2010, 10:12 AM
Ban someone for aesthetic lapses? How is that deciphered?

This is a legal issue.

Merry
March 5th, 2010, 07:27 AM
Amid controversy, Scarano wisecracks and mulls retirement

By Amy Tennery

Retirement was on Robert Scarano's mind tonight at the 90 North 5th Street condominium party, a mixer for Brooklyn's real estate-inclined, for a building his firm designed.

Just hours after news broke that a judge had blocked Scarano, a Brooklyn architecture mainstay, from filing future construction plans to the Department of Buildings, Scarano was wisecracking about the situation and hinting that he may quit the business.

"What should I do? What do you think I should do?" Scarano asked this reporter. "Maybe I'm headed for retirement… it's good to retire. Plenty of people would be happy."

But Scarano wasn't all jokes this evening at the Williamsburg building party to showcase model units. When asked about 145 Snediker Street, where an out of place lamppost was allegedly named in the complaints against him, Scarano said that he felt that complaint -- and the overall criticism against him -- was out of line.

"Kind of petty, right?" Scarano said. "It's terrible. You can't make light of that… I don't think [the ruling] was just."

But, regardless of his assertions, Scarano has long been a target of DOB scrutiny. Three construction workers died at projects he designed in 2005 and 2006 and DOB has turned a keen eye on Scarano's plans over the last near-decade.

While he hasn't yet decided whether to challenge the judge's ruling blocking him from filing plans, Scarano said that a legal entanglement "would be expensive" and that "maybe [he'd] rather go eat out at restaurants."

Even so, David Maundrell, president of aptsandlofts.com, which is marketing 90 North 5th Street, which recently garnered Federal Housing Administration financing approval, said he's not too concerned about how the ensuing negative press will affect sales.

"We understand any situation with Bob [Scarano] can affect us… it is what it is," Maundrell said, noting that the DOB long ago approved plans for 90 North 5th Street, which has not been named in the Scarano controversy. "For as many people who don't like his designs there [are] 10 times as many who do."

Not long ago, Scarano was credited as a major influence on the Brooklyn landscape, with hundreds of successful residential projects completed in the borough.

"His buildings were hot sellers," Maundrell said.

http://therealdeal.com/newyork/articles/amid-controversy-with-department-of-buildings-robert-scarano-wisecracks-and-mulls-retirement-at-the-90-north-5th-street-condo-party

BrooklynLove
March 6th, 2010, 06:11 PM
Not necessarily ...

This firm is done if they keep the name Scarano.

lofter1
March 6th, 2010, 07:36 PM
Depends. A certain well known NYC real estate lawyer who was a partner in a firm that bore his name was dis-barred for a period of time, but neither did he quit nor was his name removed from the firm. Now he's "practicing" once again and his firm -- with his name front and center -- continues to suck in the cash.

Maybe treachery is expected of lawyers and therefore the evil deeds were seen as a plus by those who seek to employ the firm.

But wasn't Scarano's apparent ability to push the edge what got him quite a bit of work? Through creativity regarding zoning regulations he was able to maximize the value of his clients' property.

A simple name change to something innocuous might do the trick (see: Xe Services LLC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_Worldwide))

ablarc
March 6th, 2010, 08:34 PM
Wasn't Scarano's apparent ability to push the edge what got him quite a bit of work? Through creativity regarding zoning regulations he was able to maximize the value of his clients' property.
He made his clients money, he delivered a good product, and his buildings usually looked quite handsome. Trouble is, they were arguably illegal.

lofter1
March 6th, 2010, 09:03 PM
Or something like 2 dozen + out of 300, from what I've read. One illegal building he might have gotten away with.

Where does it leave the clients & buyers if buildings in question are over-built?

ablarc
March 7th, 2010, 08:19 AM
Where does it leave the clients & buyers if buildings in question are over-built?
Happy as larks coz they have bigger and better units as a consequence? Doubt any agency is going to require deconstruction of an accupied unit.

lofter1
March 7th, 2010, 11:25 AM
You're probably right, as that would be a legal and fiscal nightmare. If the building is not yet occupied it might be a different story; back in 1993 NYC compelled the de-construction of an over-built structure:

Fewer Stories and More Sky on Upper East Side (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=93256&postcount=11)

Maybe the new owners / developers should hire Sheldon Lobel (http://www.sheldonlobelpc.com/sheldon_lobel_news.html):


In July 2007, Sheldon Lobel, P.C. negotiated and closed a transfer of development rights transaction enabling the developer of an overbuilt condominium to secure a Certificate of Occupancy.

BrooklynRider
March 8th, 2010, 12:52 AM
Scarano is a criminal. He should be jailed for a couple of years.

Merry
March 9th, 2010, 05:44 AM
How on earth was this allowed to be built so close to the building next door :confused:.


DUMBO Building Will Give You Chimney Envy

March 8, 2010, by Joey

http://www.curbed.com/uploads/2006_10_balcony.jpg

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/2010_3_133water.jpg

Snuggled up against the Manhattan Bridge, 133 Water Street—designed by barred-chitect Robert Scarano—has always been an amusing sight thanks to its too-close-for-comfort terraces. The condo-turned-rental has had plenty of problems in its past, but at least one of them has been solved, kinda. A tipster updates: "Back then, someone astutely pointed out the chimney on the neighboring buiding. Apparently either the tenants were getting suffocated or the FDNY or DOB took issue to the chimney. So they fixed it. Think the tenants are better off???" In terms of noxious fumes getting funneled straight into their apartments, yes. In terms of calming our intense need to cattily remark on their building, probably not.

133 Water Update: All Decked Out (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2006/10/26/133_water_update_all_decked_out.php) [Curbed]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/03/08/dumbo_building_will_give_you_chimney_envy.php

lofter1
March 9th, 2010, 10:02 AM
Very strange indeed.

As can be seen from this Street View / Google Map (http://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&q=%22133+Water+Street+Brooklyn+NY&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=133+Water+St,+Brooklyn,+Kings,+New+York+1120 1&gl=us&ei=AVyWS9m0IYGTlAeBwIGxDQ&ved=0CAoQ8gEwAA&ll=40.70352,-73.988757&spn=0.000656,0.001029&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=40.703702,-73.98885&panoid=A3wK7oj4tfm5VwdakW5LqQ&cbp=12,241.13,,0,-23.98), both buildings have low bases and then rise from a set back along a lot line that's not perpendicular to the curve of Adams Street.

It's almost as if the new one was built with the hope that the older and lower brick building would come down -- but if that happens it would seem that a big wall on the newer building would rise butt-up against those "balconies." Plus the brick one (18 Adams Street (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/PropertyProfileOverviewServlet?boro=3&houseno=18&street=adams+street&go2=+GO+&requestid=0) aka 104-118 Plymouth / 21-29 Washington) is now Landmarked, so it's not going anywhere. But that wasn't the case when Scarano's thing was in the works ...

DUMBO was designated (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/DUMBO_Designation_Report.pdf) [pdf] a Landmark District in December 16, 2007, and the New Building work (aka the Scarano Pile) was filed in 2004 and signed off on December 24, 2007. One might guess that this kind of crap is what pushed Landmarks to get the area protected. Too bad they didn't act sooner, eh?

The brick building has a recent application to add two floors up top: PERMIT ISSUED (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=7&passjobnumber=310018003&passdocnumber=01) - ENTIRE JOB/WORK 02/01/2010

Architect is Della Valle + Bernheimer Design:


General Construction, Zoning and Egress application filed for proposed two (2) story enlargement as shown on plans filed herewith. MEP and Structural trades will be filed under separate applications. Obtain Amended CO.

Curbed did a story on the condo conversion last summer:

Dumbo's Next Blockbuster Condo Conversion: 25 Washington? (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/08/25/dumbos_next_blockbuster_condo_conversion_25_washin gton.php)

btw: DOB shows an Active Violation for that chimney (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/ECBQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=4&ecbin=34807386K).

Merry
March 19th, 2010, 10:32 PM
Anxiety in Scarano-Land

The besieged architect Robert Scarano designed thousands of apartments. What do you do if you bought one?

By S.Jhoanna Robledo
http://images.nymag.com/realestate/realestatecolumn/scarano100329_560.jpg

Brooklyn would look very different today without Robert Scarano. The architect of hundreds of buildings, Scarano was incredibly prolific during the aughts building boom, especially in Williamsburg. He became known as a developer’s best partner, a man who could squeeze every salable square foot onto a lot. He’s also been widely criticized for his blocky, bulky designs, creative parsing of the building code to get approval for uncommonly large projects, and working with developers who run shoddy construction sites. To a certain kind of context-worshipping New Yorker, Scarano represents everything that’s wrong with our architectural culture.

And now he’s cooked. Earlier this month, the City Department of Buildings barred Scarano from filing permits and plans because he “repeatedly submitted false documents in an attempt to circumvent the law.” Suddenly, the neighbors aren’t the only ones wringing their hands: New Yorkers who’ve bought Scarano apartments—particularly those angling to sell—are grappling with his downfall.

One East Williamsburger who has had her ceiling replastered is fatalistic. “Until the leaks are fixed, I can’t worry about selling this place,” she says. (She and others interviewed for this story requested anonymity for fear of scaring off buyers.) Another North Brooklyn owner says the ductwork in her apartment’s HVAC system doesn’t meet code and adds that the six-story building has no wheelchair access. Others single out “sweaty” windows—possibly a sign of poor insulation—and misrouted cables. Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, who represents disgruntled owners at eight Scarano projects, says some clients had bedrooms that didn’t meet city specifications and therefore were called closets. When your two-bedroom abruptly becomes reclassified as a one-bedroom, the resale value will likely be downsized as well.

Is it right to blame Scarano for all this? It depends on the building. Developers and contractors are equally accountable for shoddy workmanship. One owner (who is, for the record, an architect) notes that she can’t scapegoat Scarano for plumbing woes and cheap door handles. “Sometimes the owner puts the architect in a limited role,” she explains. (A DoB spokesperson recommends that anyone considering a Scarano condo—or any new construction, for that matter—hire an engineer or architect to perform structural due diligence.)

One could argue that Scarano’s projects have been scrutinized so closely that they simply can’t be as bad as their reputation. After he surrendered his right to self-certify—that is, perform his own code and safety inspections—in 2006, the city audited 286 self-certified Scarano jobs and has reviewed another 309 since then. Scarano’s representative, Linda Alexander, says that the firm “is pursuing all avenues available to reverse the erroneous rulings.” Some residents even love his spaces: One artist says her old apartment at 1037 Manhattan Avenue, which the DoB says doesn’t meet zoning regulations, had wonderful high ceilings and huge windows. (She moved only after her rent was hiked.)

If there’s a silver lining for those owners, it’s this: Controversy fades. A scandal can “appear [to have] a devastating impact on value,” notes appraiser Jonathan Miller. “But once it’s resolved, people have other things to worry about. ”

New York City Real Estate - What Do You Do If You Bought One of Robert Scarano’s Apartments? -- New York Magazine (http://nymag.com/realestate/realestatecolumn/64937/#ixzz0igE0hd4Q) http://nymag.com/realestate/realestatecolumn/64937/#ixzz0igE0hd4Q