New York City is known around the world for its vibrant, historical, and illustrious architecture, spanning decades of style and culture. From globally recognized landmarks like the Flatiron Building or the Ansonia Hotel, to the residential apartment buildings in Sugar Hill at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance that continue to thrive today, the buildings of New York tell infinite, diverse stories.
Maintaining these buildings is critical in preserving the New York so many of us call home, and the city that countless people around the world dream of visiting one day. Façade inspection is a vital part of that preservation, and even more importantly, keeping people safe. Deteriorating façades have caused several notable collapses that have injured and killed pedestrians over the years. In 1980, after the death of a student at Barnard, the NYC Council created the Façade Inspection Safety Program, known as Local Law 11, which now requires an inspection of every building over six stories tall once every five years. Just last year, 60 year old New York architect Erica Tishman was killed by debris from a building façade that fell over a dozen stories.
Façade inspection and maintenance can be costly, and often, for many building owners, it’s more manageable to pay the small fines from the city than to make an actual repair. Some in the New York Real Estate community even call the practice “an open secret.” For decades, the only way to closely inspect façades has been by using costly and cumbersome methods like scaffolding, rope access, a cherry picker, or a window washing unit. While effective, they come with a high price tag for the building owner and require sidewalk closure, construction permits, pedestrian sheds, and in some cases, road closures.