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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
September 2015
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: Penthouse in New York City

Architectural Firm of the Month: Pier, Fine Associates

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Welcome to the September issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it! Your project could be featured in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.

Photo Courtesy John Bartlestone

Pier, Fine Associates, a New York City-based architectural firm, has designed a wide range of projects since its inception in 1983. These include residences, corporate offices, retail stores and multi-family apartment buildings as well as academic and administrative buildings. The firm has been the architect for the renovation and preservation of several properties registered as national historic landmarks.

Pier, Fine Associates believes that successful design is a participatory process requiring significant input from architect and client alike. The firm's objective is to respond to its client's specific needs, and through architecture, give form to its client's aspirations.

For more information visit:

Photographs Courtesy John Bartlestone

On the Upper West Side of New York City there is a penthouse apartment with a glass-railed roof deck on top that looks out to spectacular views in every direction. Architect Arthur Pier of Pier, Fine Associates designed the project that took nearly two years to complete, and involved demolishing the original penthouse before constructing the new one.
The new penthouse is a 2,030 square foot, six-room apartment with three bathrooms, a raised deck on the lower terrace and the roof deck above. A spiral stair connects the two outdoor areas: the 1,455 square foot roof terrace and the 460 square foot roof deck, and adds a unique feature to the façade.
When asked what inspired him to create a roof deck, Arthur Pier explained, "There is something so unusual in New York City about creating an outdoor space with open 360° views. I think of the roof deck as an osprey's nest or a look out station on board ship. A space perched above Manhattan where you can take in the sweep of the river, the lights of the city and the sky. What a treat it is to embrace the sky in Manhattan, of all places! We were lucky, too, to have visionary clients who immediately understood the potential and were not afraid to go for it."
The spiral stair has a practical function but also an aesthetic one as well. Pier explains, "The spiral was appropriate for a number of reasons. The spiral stair form is often associated with stairs built to provide access to high places within constricted spaces such as in church belfries or castle towers and, of course, on ships. The Hudson, being a major shipping route, inspired the nautical vocabulary of the stair. Aside from its allegorical associations, the spiral created a unique vertical counterpoint to the horizontality of the façade composition. The spiral stair was also a practical choice from a construction standpoint. It was space efficient and could be factory pre-assembled and hoisted by crane, in a single piece, to the rooftop."
"Penthouses always present their own set of unique challenges because, as the architect, you are constructing at the point of intersection between the private space (the penthouse apartment) and the public space (the building and its structural, mechanical and roofing systems). In this case, there were complex regulatory, structural, mechanical and waterproofing problems that had to be resolved that are characteristic of building on top of an existing, fully occupied structure."
There were other challenges associated with the construction of the project. Pier explains, "In a project of this scope, you worry, first, about the elements and how to keep them out. The building was a fully occupied cooperative apartment building and it was necessary to open areas of the roof in order to expose the steel structure below to which we were attaching our steel frame. The contractor built temporary structures to protect the open roof and wall areas from rain and snow infiltration during the course of construction. Construction of this type in the northeast entails building throughout the year including during difficult winter conditions." The exterior wall of the penthouse was constructed with reinforced masonry, an air barrier, insulation and low-E insulated windows and doors, which provided an energy efficient exterior envelope.
Pier describes the unique aspects of designing a penthouse in contrast to designing a freestanding structure. "Part of what I find so interesting about penthouse design," he explains, "is that you are designing a "house" on top of a building. As a result, there are, of course, constraints, that you do not have in building a free standing home, but the siting of something on top of a building is such an opportunity to capture spectacular views and light and the challenges from a construction standpoint can really be exciting. Any ambitious project, whether small or large, in a crowded city will require negotiation, perseverance and compromise. This project was no exception. My clients and I had to navigate not only the city's regulatory apparatus, but also the cooperative's. The clients took the long view and their reward, in the end, was a spectacular penthouse."

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 



Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: 

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.





Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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