Traditional Building Conference

Previous Events: New York City 2011

Conference Schedule
Speaker Biographies

“It’s the wanting to know that makes us matter.” Tom Stoppard

As one of our nation’s most sustainable places, New York City was an appropriate location for the third event in the 2011 Traditional Building Series on October 21-22 at the historic Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Building on West 44th Street in mid- town Manhattan.

The Conference, “Sustainable Building: Design, Craft and Tradition” presented 10 seminars plus an evening lecture where architects; contractors; trades people; interior designers and building owners could earn 10 AIA Learning Units including four Sustainable Design Credits.

Keynote speaker Dr. Richard J. Jackson, MD MPH Professor and Chair-Environmental Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, kicked of the first day with a fact-filled lecture about the close correlation between healthy places and healthy people. He outlined specific ways that architectural design can proactively support personal and community health, from air quality to injury mitigation to creating walkable places.

In keeping with the Conference emphasis on sustainable design, Cooper Robertson & Partners architects John Kirk, AIA, and Manuel Mergal, AIA, LEED-AP, showed case studies of where the preservation of existing buildings was combined with the sensitive addition of new spaces. Likewise Matthew Bronski, Senior Staff, Building Technology; Simpson Gumpertz Heger, illustrated examples of historic buildings in Rome that teach important lessons for durable building design; he showed how time-proven traditional construction details succeed technically and durably.

“This Old Green House,” presented by builder Barry Katz, addressed three fundamentals of green construction: energy efficiency; healthy living/working environments; resource conservation and environmental responsibility. Again, traditional building industry professionals were reminded that the pre-technological era employed sustainable strategies which should be applied today.

The first day of the New York Traditional Building Conference wrapped up with a cocktail reception, then, an evening lecture by Kim Mockler who discussed his book Maurice Fatio: Palm Beach Architect. Conference attendees were joined by additional guests from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Chapter leaders from around the country were in town for committee meetings. The Traditional Building Conference Series 2011 is produced in collaboration with the ICAA.

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art’s Chairman, Peter Pennoyer, AIA, founding partner Peter Pennoyer Architects and co-author of three monographs on America Architects, was the first to speak on the second day of the event. His topic, “Mining History for the Practice of Architecture Today,” shared historical research which guides his design practice. Pennoyer referenced a great resource, the Museum of the City of New York exhibition, “The American Style: Colonial Revival in the Modern Metropolis,” which he helped produce.

Building orientation, proportion, materials and organization all play an important part in designing sustainable places. This fact was explained particularly well in the seminar, “The Environmental Responsibility of Traditional Design,” by Gary Brewer, AIA, Partner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, along with Paul Stoller, LEED AP, and Director, Atelier Ten, both of New York City. Using slides, charts and graphs in a stunning, informative presentation. Brewer and Stoller showed how daylighting, heat gain and ventilation can be achieved with the right traditional building plan.

Practical details for achieving energy efficiency had attendees taking notes. This was evident in the third seminar on the second day, “A Sustainable Tradition: Storm Windows,” by David Martin, President, Allied Window Inc. Martin showed very useful facts and figures which calculate heat loss/gain through windows and gave solutions for saving historic building fabric.

“By hammer and hand all arts stand” is the inscription that adorns the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen official seal which was visible above the podium, in their headquarters, where the Traditional Building Conference took place. This axiom was fitting for the final session of the Conference, “Cast and Carved: The Crafts of Architectural Ornament.” Participants included Robert Baird, Historical Arts and Casting; David Flaharty, sculptor and ornamental plasterer, and Deborah Mills, Deborah Mills Woodcarving. Each demonstrated their craft and explained their methodology for creating timeless period-inspired ornamental designs in cast iron, plaster and wood.

Thirteen Conference sponsors rounded out this education and networking event by participating, shoulder to shoulder, with their clients and future clients, the attendees. Together, these suppliers helped make the education and the AIA Learning Units affordable for traditional building professionals. Two sponsors, Allied Window and Historical Arts and Casting, delivered AIA accredited sessions from the podium.

The Traditional Building Conference Series is produced by Restore Media LLC in collaboration with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and its local chapters in Philadelphia; Boston; New York and Washington DC.

Restore Media serves the $170 billion traditional building market with magazines, websites, webinars, events and e-newsletters. It is the publisher of TRADITIONAL BUILDING and PERIOD HOMES magazines, Tradweb - the Directory of Custom Building and Restoration Services,, Traditional Product Reports, Traditional Building Portfolio and Traditional Product Galleries, as well as the producer of the annual Palladio Design Awards design competition.

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art is the leading non-profit organization, represented by 14 chapters nationwide, dedicated to advancing the Classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and their allied arts. It does so through education, advocacy and publication.

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