Now that the old parapet has been rebuilt, we have moved our attention to the limestone façade of the new parts of the building. Having started from the bottom, we are a quarter of the way up in the courtyard on the Nevins side. Why limestone? Working with Tony Daniels, 93 Nevins’ architect, we had suggested limestone as a material that had historic context – it’s part of the vernacular for brownstone Brooklyn. The blocks are thick, almost 3 5/8 inches, and the face is 12 foot by 24 foot, and they are being installed in a brick pattern. We are using cavity wall construction – which allows for air space between the limestone façade and the next layer of insulation. There are two benefits to this kind of wall construction: The first is that the one inch air space between the blocks and the thermal mass of the blocks contribute to the wall’s thermal insulation, making for a home that will be cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The second benefit is the sound attenuation. The thick blocks, the air space and the insulation should make these homes a quiet sanctuary.
As the spring green of flowering trees, budding flowers, and general leafiness of the neighborhood has emerged over the past few months, I have also realized how the views from the various windows and terraces provide wonderful views of green. I can’t wait to plant our street trees, and the trellised grape vines on the decks. They will enhance the neighborhood’s quotient of green, while improving air quality and the connection with the natural world. We have been researching different way to capture rain water for watering the plants. We will try to install water retaining tree pits that will help the trees grow. We are also looking for rain barrels for the large decks that have spigots to water plants on the decks, thereby saving water and the sewers from excessive run off.