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Queens Condo Board Attacks Leaks With an Eye to Aesthetics

Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on November 23, 2022

Ridgewood, Queens

Queens co-op board, leaks, rain screen, MJM+A Architects, Delkap Management.

Here comes the rain screen: stucco removal is under way at Glenridge Mews co-op.

Nov. 23, 2022

The Glenridge Mews in Ridgewood, Queens, was built as an industrial structure in the early 20th century, then converted to a 64-unit condominium late in the century. Recently a 60-foot-tall tower at the complex — once used to store massive blocks of ice — began to leak, and water infiltration was plaguing numerous apartments. The condo board decided to act decisively.

“The property manager, Joe Mohan of Delkap Management, contacted us in late 2018 and said they had multiple points of moisture intrusion,” says Ryan Scipione, a partner at MJM+A Architects. “We took a look, and it was pretty clear that moisture was getting through cracks in the stucco covering on the exterior of the tower and attacking the brick walls underneath.”

It was also clear that the compromised stucco had to be removed, a solution that led to a new problem. Removing the stucco would damage some of the bricks underneath, resulting in an unsightly exterior. 

“We did some studies on solutions that would protect the building and look attractive,” Scipione says. Plan A was to remove the stucco and replace the bricks, producing a unified effect. Plan B was to install a rain screen — a wall of water-repelling panels that’s separated from the exterior wall. This solution would require replacing compromised bricks to produce a solid foundation for the aluminum framework that would support the rain screen panels. It also required installing a waterproof membrane on the brick wall, a crucial component in making the building waterproof. The architect’s team gave the board estimated costs of the two approaches.

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“Very often with boards, budget is the only driver,” Scipione says. “But to this board, performance and aesthetics also mattered. They were all eager to come to a solution that would protect the building and look good. Ultimately, they decided that the extra money spent on a rain screen produced a better envelope with less long-term maintenance.”

Mohan, the vice president at Delkap, adds: “Nobody’s happy spending money, especially these days. But this board is always looking at the interests of the shareholders, and they also want improvements that look good and have low maintenance.”

The board decided to go with Plan B — at a hefty cost of $1.3 million. The job calls for installing a waterproof membrane called RevealShield, self-adhering sheets that are laid onto the exterior brick wall. After an aluminum framework is attached to the wall, fiber-reinforced cement panels manufactured by Swisspearl will be attached to the framework. Space between the rain screen and the building’s exterior wall allows for moisture to evaporate quickly. 

The architect and board sent Requests for Proposals to five contractors before deciding to hire KNS Building Restoration, a Queens-based contractor that has experience installing rain screens. The work is now under way, with completion expected by next summer.

To pay for it, the board took out a $2 million construction loan and imposed an assessment spread over 10 years.

“Everything’s on schedule,” Mohan says, “and the board is happy.”

PRINCIPAL PLAYERS — ARCHITECT: MJM+A Architects. PROPERTY MANAGER: Delkap Management. CONTRACTOR: KNS Building Restoration. MANUFACTURERS: Vapro Shield and Swisspearl.

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