NEW YORK CITY - After purchasing four, East 62nd Street buildings, Realty Corp. of New York was in the market to restore and conserve these structures and then gain a return on their investment by using them as high-end, rental apartments.
“We saw the value of these historic homes and wanted to conserve the rich legacy of the Upper East Side Historic District,” said Dennis Nico, director of facilities for Realty. “In this part of Manhattan, there is a significant market for high-end rental apartments and in these classic brownstones, we found the perfect resource for this concept.”
Preserving and restoring the structures wasn’t the only challenge facing Realty. Old buildings can be difficult to heat and cool, and with the attention being paid to historic detail, finding an HVAC solution that fit their objective could prove a daunting task.
To make this renovation come to life, Realty tapped one of New York’s historic preservation masters, Joseph Pell Lombardi, whose firm includes architects, preservationists, architectural historians, and construction specialists. One of those construction specialists was Breezin HVAC Inc. from Staten Island, N.Y.
PROJECT REQUIREMENTSResponding to Realty’s request to bring these units up to the highest green standards and sustainable design, Lombardi searched for the best-in-class HVAC installer and technology to replace the Brownstone’s circa 1920 technology and equipment.
He had worked in past preservation projects with Breezin, and it was now Breezin’s task to install equipment and systems that were aesthetically pleasing and exceptionally quiet for the tenants. Decades-old radiators, chillers, pipes, and boilers were to be removed.
New York City lots are typically 100 feet deep. With four and five stories each, the four mansions - each with its own elevator - were 9,500 to 10,300 square feet in size. From this space, Lombardi created eight duplexes (two-floored with staircase); two single floor apartments; two triplexes (three-floored with staircase); and one quadplex apartment (four-floored with staircase).
Aesthetically, to blend with the classical view of the Upper East Side Historic District, Lombardi restored the building’s masonry façade and signature ornamental metalwork. He added new energy-efficient windows and doors made to replicate the original 1900s exterior look and feel. His interior renovations included the restoration of the historically significant rooms to their original design, featuring ornate staircases, parquet and marble floors, casements, dentil door moldings, and wood paneling.
DUCTLESS MEETS HISTORICAL ACCURACYShawn Montague, president of Breezin HVAC, went to work on the new HVAC systems and found that keeping the historic look would require multiple technologies.
“Mitsubishi Electric’s Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning technology is a unique solution, zoned for comfort, and ideal for this East 62nd Street project,” said Montague. “I incorporated the company’s ductless technology with this solution too. Installing ductwork was a last resort. Spaces that needed ductwork were the most difficult to cool and heat and the most labor intensive.”
Over a period of two months, Montague and his staff installed 16 PURY R2-Series Outdoor Units; seven PUMY S-Series Outdoor Units; a PUZ P-Series Outdoor Unit (Mr. Slim® Split-ductless); a MUZ M-Series Outdoor Unit (Mr. Slim® Split-ductless); 39 PKFY Wall-mounted Indoor Units; 12 PDFY Ceiling-concealed Indoor Units; 51 PFFY Floor-standing Indoor Units; 13 PMFY Ceiling-concealed Indoor Units; two PLFY Ceiling-concealed Indoor Units; two PLA Ceiling-concealed Indoor Units (Mr. Slim® Split-ductless); 16 BC Controllers; and 16 G-50A Centralized Controllers.
Lombardi wanted the 51 Mitsubishi floor-standing indoor units to be housed in custom-made cabinets. Master carpenters were selected to craft cabinets to blend into the historic paneling. Another major concern was the height and placement of the outdoor units. These units were not to be seen from street level, which would ruin the historical accuracy and preservation efforts. Montague strategically placed the City Multi outdoor units on each building’s rooftop. Breezin brought the piping and wiring from the rooftop units down to the indoor units through 130-year-old chase walls.
“I have been using Mitsubishi Electric products exclusively since opening in 1978, and I would not have considered any other manufacturer for this challenging landmark installation,” said Montague. “Over 100 pieces of equipment went into the installation of this project, and when the system was started up and tested, it proved to be flawless.”
NO COMPLAINTSLombardi was pleased with the historical preservation that Breezin HVAC maintained while simultaneously providing an efficient HVAC solution.
“I am extremely pleased with the choice of the Mitsubishi Electric VRF technology,” he said. “The Mitsubishi equipment is energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and whisper-quiet. For my extensive work in conservation and preservation, this technology is remarkable. With outdoor units on the roof and tiny pipes connecting the indoor units, architectural integrity of my legacy buildings will be preserved.”
The new tenants of the currently occupied building were pleased as well. According to the owners, there have been many compliments about the new domiciles and no complaints have been lodged.