Weekly stories on the subject of real estate, design and the built environment


Workshop Review – Building Technology

On Thursday 4/7, Brick & Wonder member Jamie Propp led a Workshop on Building Technology, reviewing a case-study integration project for a 2-building complex amenity space at 101 Warren St in Tribeca. 

The discussion revealed the complex and nuanced process of technology integration in modern buildings, and the function of a technology GC as part of a project team to deliver a resolved, integrated, secure and intuitive experience for owners and occupants alike. 

Jamie was joined by Toddy Mitty, CTO at Liontree, and Board President at 101 Warren St, who helped the board and building realize this challenging project. Seth DiBenedictis, Northeast territory manager of smart home company, Savant, and partner on the project also joined the session. 

Case Study Background:

101 Warren St was constructed under 1968 building code, which meant that several obvious modern amenities were missing, such as remote access control for residents letting in guests. The building sponsor’s amenities offering was limited: a gym, oversized locker room, a lounge, and a pantry with no kitchen. The building was completed right before amenities became a major differentiator for new buildings. 

Once owners took control of the Condo board, they ran a survey of building occupants to ask about their wish list for an amenities enhancement project. They then engaged a designer to deliver a concept design and delivered it at the annual meeting, to a positive reception. The project was estimated at $6m, so the board asked owners for $9m to ensure the project was protected in case of cost overruns. In a several-years-long process of internal dialogue between residents, the Condo board, and the amenities committee, the agreed budget settled at $4.5m.

The amenities space now includes a lounge with flatscreen, integrated 9.1 surround sound system, spa, steam room, sauna, gum, chefs kitchen, upgraded security, a backup internet connection to the building, and more. The system can be operated both by the building supervisor and the residents from a mobile app. The project is nearing completion, almost 8 years after it was first suggested. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Having a technical leader on the team championing this integration project was a rare plus that helped drive through the vision. 
  2. Relationships between the Condo board, Amenities committee, and condo owners were predictably challenging at times.
    1. “You have to be committed, you have to invest, you have to have the vision and stick with it. And you can’t give up! It’s really hard to communicate that the ‘we can always add that later’ philosophy really doesn’t work with technology integration.” – Todd Mitty
  3. The control system, which is perhaps the least visible part of the project, is the most important thing driving the end-user experience. 
  4. It’s important to plan for technology as early on in a project as possible. 
  5. Power and network, both of which need backup systems in a big project like this, are fundamental building blocks that need to be in place before planning the control system. 
  6. End users tend to think in terms of the interface, which often comes down to FF&E, but the real battle lies in the systems engineering!
  7. Example System Layers for an Amenities Space:
    1. Energy + Backup Power
    2. Air systems (HVAC)
    3. Internet connection & Backup Internet
    4. Network Infrastructure (Wifi, Cabling, Server Rack, etc) 
    5. Sound and Visual
    6. Lighting
    7. Water features (spa, steam, etc.)
    8. Shading systems (electronic blinds)
    9. System-wide Control (Users, Operators, Administrators)
  8. In short building technology projects are multifaced and complex. They are most successful when planned into the very earliest stages of design!

Key Links

– Workshop Audio (BW Members Only)
– Workshop Video (BW Members Only)
Techmenity Overview
WELL Overview

Workshop Leaders: