29 March 2013

New Jersey Formally Adopts Federal Advisory Flood Elevation Maps for Rebuilding After Sandy

New Jersey has now formally adopted controversial flood elevation standards, even though state and federal officials admit the regulations will likely change when final maps are released later this year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s, (FEMA), advisory elevations, which the state accepted through an emergency rule earlier this year as the standard for rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, lay out how high residents in flood zones must raise their homes in order to maintain affordable flood insurance premiums. Despite protests from many storm victims who call the maps flawed, the state Department of Environmental Protection filed papers on Monday to make that emergency order a permanent measure.

Submitted by: Robert F. Barranger, AIA Ref: NJSL

24 March 2013

Ward's Castle; First Reinforced Concrete Structure in the US

I made an unexpected stop in Rye, NY today and I was lucky to stumble upon the William E. Ward House. The building is located on a large lot in a residential neighborhood on the border of New York and Connecticut.

Constructed from 1873-1875, the house was the first structure in the United States built entirely of reinforced concrete. Mr Ward, a mechanical engineer, collaborated with architect Robert Mook, to create this imposing 17 room mansion. The building is constructed entirely of Portland cement based concrete reinforced with iron beams and rods. Only the doors, window frames and trim are of wood.

A combination of Gothic Revival and French Second Empire styles, the building features a four-story octagonal tower that expresses rather than conceals the concrete. The mansion was jokingly known as "Ward's Folly" by neighbors until its durability and character caused it to be re-dubbed "Ward's Castle."

The castle was later bought by "Beetle Bailey" cartoonist Mort Walker, and it was home to the Museum of Cartoon Art from 1976 to 1992. The building is currently a private residence.

I was caught without my SLR so these camera phone pictures will have to do.

22 March 2013

Cornerstone Architectural Group Recognized by AIA NJ

The New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NJ) recently recognized Cornerstone Architectural Group for 25 years of service to the profession. Cornerstone celebrated 25 years in business in December of 2012. The award was presented to the firms' principals; Robert F. Barranger, AIA, Robert M. Longo, AIA and Michael G. Soriano, AIA at AIA New Jersey's black tie gala, by 2013 AIA NJ President, Jack Purvis, AIA and AIA NJ Service Awards Chair, Michael Hanrahan, AIA. 
Pictured from left to right; Jack Purvis, AIA, Michael G. Soriano, AIA, 
Robert M. Longo, AIA, Robert F. Barranger, AIA and Michael Hanrahan, AIA

Submitted by: Michael G. Soriano, AIA Ref: AIA/NJ

19 March 2013

First Stonehenge, Now Carhenge

Jim Reinders, an experimental artist with a history of using curious media, became so enthralled by the beauty of the famous Stonehenge in England that he had to recreate it. However, Reinders, instead of using stone, decided to embrace a more modern, Americanized approach. Shortly after his father died in 1982, Reinder came up with the idea to build “Carhenge”.

Five years later during a family reunion, with the help of some thirty family members, Reinder used thirty-eight automobiles to mirror the position of the rocks that construct Stonehenge. All the automobiles, which include a handful of cars, a pick-up truck, an ambulance, and a 1962 Cadillac as the heel stone, accurately and proportionately depict the real life structure.

Completing the sculpture just in time for the Summer Solstice, the family celebrated their achievements. The local residents of Alliance, Nebraska were initially disturbed by the presence of Carhenge, believing it to be an eyesore, but over time have grown to accept and love the structure that put their town on the map.

Submitted by: Robert F. Barranger, AIA Ref: DM

07 March 2013

Planners Favor Waiver of Height Restriction for Storm-Damaged Homes

Toms River, NJ Planning Board members have given their approval to an ordinance amendment that will waive the maximum height restriction for homes impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Relaxing that rule for those affected will allow them to raise their homes above 35 feet to satisfy FEMA flood guidelines while bypassing a trip before Toms River's Zoning Board, so long as no other alterations are proposed. With all of the troubles many residents face as they try to rebuild after Sandy's devastation, the relaxing of the height requirement for them is meant to make the recovery process go more smoothly, since they won't have to appear in front of the Zoning Board for a variance. Most of the affected homes likely will require an increase of 4 to 5 feet to meet FEMA guidelines. Raising of homes will not affect disabled residents who require a ramp to access their structure as they are exempt from setback requirements. The challenge will be that they will need landings, and that will make the ramps much longer.

Submitted by: Donna M. Miller, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP Ref: TRP