I am a NYC Architect working from home during the COVID Stay at Home Order. My profession is easy to transition to working from home (with the exception of construction of course). New York City has many online services for architects that allow them to continue to work and stay productive on projects.
NYC Architect Working From Home
I am an architect in New York City and owner of Manhattan based architecture firm Fontan Architecture. I am going to review how my office has adapted so far to the stay at home order including inter office coordination, working with clients, and working with the City of New York Bureaucratic Agencies Having Jurisdiction on our projects.
- DOB HUB & DOB NOW E-Filing
- BSA on Youtube
- City Planning Commission
- Working With Clients
NYC Architect Work From Home – Stay At Home Order
NYC DOB Development Hub & DOB NOW
New York City has many services for filing online. Two of them are the Development HUB and DOB NOW. In 2011 The New York City Department of Buildings launched a new service called the NYC Development HUB. This is an online version of the DOB. There is also another version called DOB NOW. I am not going to go into the differences but certain types of jobs are filed on the HUB and others on DOB NOW. I personally have used the HUB since 2011 when it first started. We have found this to be a very convenient way to work, and quite frankly, I do not know why people still file jobs on paper the old way. Since being on the Stay At Home Order during COVID-19, I have seen no disruption in the DOB HUB. All my jobs are moving along. Luckily we had no projects pending in the Borough Office filed on paper. I honestly have no idea what happened to those types of projects since I do not work that way. Since being on quarantine, we have filed new applications and gotten projects approved without ever leaving the house. All paperwork is signed from home scanned and uploaded. Drawings are uploaded as PDFs and the plan examiner reviews the PDF from home. We have webcam screen share review sessions on projects for New Buildings or Alteration Type 1 applications. For Alteration Type 2 projects, we just download the DOB questions and comments and upload a response. New York City processes a lot of applications in a given year. People are always complaining about the DOB, but I am not one of them. As far as I am concerned, when you take into account how much they have to do, I think it runs quite reasonably.
Board Of Standards and Appeals
If you need a Zoning Variance in NYC, you have to file with the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). This agency is also operating. They are having video hearings that are live streamed on the BSA’s Youtube Channel. We have one project with them right now and recently had a hearing that went very well. We are waiting on their vote and official determination. I am quite curious to see how long that takes, so I will update this post when we find out.
Department Of City Planning
The Department Of City Planning seams to be working as well. We have had a bit less dealings with them recently, but I do have two projects under review by them at this time. One is a New 190 Unit Multifamily Building Development where we are requesting a rezoning, the other is a Small 3 Unit New Building requiring authorization from City Planning.
Working With Clients
Working with clients will vary based on the type of project and the type of client. I will discuss one specific project we are doing right now and how we are keeping it moving. We are currently designing a loft combination and gut renovation. We are going to combine two lofts in SoHo into one 6,500 square foot loft and gut renovate. We have been working on the interior design details while on quarantine. On this project, the client has a very good design sense and is quite personally involved. Under normal conditions when planning a high end apartment renovation, we would have lots of meetings at their apartment where we could review the design details in person. We would also go to showrooms together for product and material selection. Obviously that has become a challenge. We continue to work having meetings on zoom where we can do a screen share with a 3D Model of the apartment. I take the client through the 3D model and we can discuss design details as I show her everything in real time. This has proven to be a very productive way to keep working while under the Stay At Home Order.
Working With My Team
All of our consultants are still working and my employees are working. I do spend a large portion of my day on zoom where I can review my employees work and collaborate with my team. Our project contractors are still working on pricing and bidding jobs. Most vendors are very communicative working from home and providing us material and product support and pricing.
Working From Home as an Architect During Stay at Home
This post discusses our experience so far. This is a complicated time and everyone has to make their own decisions on how they proceed during quarantine.
We have another post you can read discussing the NYC regulations for restarting construction.
Thank you for reading our blog post on How our Architecture Firm Works During COVID
I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact us directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.