2012-01-25 / Front Page

Queens Chamber Confers 2011 Building Awards

By Thomas Cogan

At a reception held at Queens Theatre in the Park January 19, the Queens Chamber of Commerce honored the winners of its 99th annual building awards. The 24 plaques awarded, including two for this year’s entrants into the chamber’s Building Awards Hall of Fame, went to architects, designers and builders of new and rehabilitated homes, business offices and commercial buildings, hotels, libraries and schools. Additionally, this year, for what was said to be the first time, there was an award in the category of interior design. The lifetime achievement award went to Jeffrey Levine, chairman of Douglaston Development, Levine Builders and Clinton Management.

Before the presentation of awards on the main stage of the theatre, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went over a few events he was sure would affect Queens positively. First, as the result of a national competition, Cornell University’s graduate science campus will be established at the Goldwater Hospital site on Roosevelt Island. He said its effect on nearby Queens should be profound, given the influx of students and faculty that will probably seek residence and amenities in the borough. The many hotels that have been built in Queens in recent years have been an important part of the remarkable increase in hotel space in the city:  from 40,000 rooms circa 2005 to 90,000 rooms today, he said. He concluded by saying he had just come from a Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) meeting where there was great optimism about the city’s future.

The QCC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Jeffrey Levine, is very much a Queens man, being an alumnus of Cardozo H.S. and Queens College before studying architecture at CUNY.

“This is one busy man,” Queens Chamber President Carol Conslato said as she introduced him. In addition to his extensive building career, which began with the founding of Douglaston Development in 1979, Levine is on the executive committee of the REBNY board of governors and holds prominent offices with the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York, the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Council, the New York Housing Conference, the New York Building Conference—and the Queens Chamber of Commerce. The many awards preceding this latest include a pair of Design Awards from the Society of American Registered Architects in 2000 and 2003 and the Met Council Builder of the Year Award in 2011.

The two buildings selected for the Building Awards Hall of Fame are the Pistilli-Newtown Office Building and the Piano Factory Apartment Building, both in Astoria. The Pistilli Building, 31-19 Newtown Ave., also wins in the new construction, office building category, while the apartment building at 31-01 Vernon Blvd., where Sohmer pianos were once manufactured, wins in the rehab mixed use category. The Pistilli Building had to be built in a small space and Piano Factory Apartments had to be adapted under strict preservation standards, respecting the building’s 1886 origin. Pistilli is owned by Pistilli Realty and the builder is Pistilli Construction and Development;  the architect is Gerald Caliendo. Piano Factory Apartments is owned by TTW Realty and the builder is Vardo Construction Corp.; the architect is again Gerald Caliendo.

Caliendo also comes up as the winning architect in the rehab commercial category, the rehabilitated structure being the Atlantic Diner at 111-16 Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill. The owner is Bill Athanasopoulos and the builder is Patti Construction Corp.

The rehab public building winner is East Elmhurst Community Library, 95-06 Astoria Blvd. The architectural firm is Integrated Design Group and the builder JMK Construction Group. Going from one handsome design to another is the rehab office building winner, 90-30 161st St., Jamaica, which is owned and inhabited by Graf + Lewent Architects. The builder is Authentic Building + Remodeling.

The rehab schools category winner is P.S. 280, 34-20 94th St., Jackson Heights. It was formerly Blessed Sacrament Catholic school, and is owned by the Diocese of Brooklyn. In announcing the award, QCC’s Frank Macchio said that there was “an incredible amount of work in the architectural façade”, and credit for that should be given to AECOM. The builder is Positive Associates.

The rehab contextual category winner is the Connelly residence, 40-31 171st St., in the Murray Hill/Auburndale section of Flushing. This circa 1932 house impressed Macchio as having been enlarged and modernized without looking greatly changed. The architect is Arnold Montag-AM/PM Design & Consulting PC and the builder is Wagner Construction Co.

The new construction categories included new construction, hotels and motels. The winner is the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, opened last spring at 27-05 39th Ave. in Dutch Kills. The owner is Michael Psarros, the architect Gerald Caliendo again, and the builder is 27 North Development Group. The new construction, mixed use category winner is 93-01 37th Ave., an apartment and commercial building in Jackson Heights, whose owner is Sands Point Holding LLC/Henry Zheng. The architect is Lin & Associates and the builder is Morgan Construction NY Inc. The new construction, commercial winner is ClearNorth Plaza, 205-04 Northern Blvd. in Bayside, which Macchio called “a cute little building constructed to appear as if it had always been there”. The owner is Joseph Mattone/The Martail Trust; architect is NF Architectural Designs; the builder is Titan Realty & Construction. The winner in the new construction, industrial category is a classic red-brick factory at 131 Fowler Ave., Flushing. The owner is Jin Ming Real Estate Corp./Jin Ping Xu; winning again as architect is Lin & Associates PC, and the builder is Heda Construction Inc. The new construction, public building award goes to the Queens Central Library & Children’s Library Discovery Center at the heart of the Queens Library system, 89-11 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica. The architectural firm is 1100 Architect and the builder is Fratello Construction. At the presentation, this new building was lauded by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall as a place where “scientific thinking” can be advanced.

The first winner in the new category, interiors, is the living quarters of the Blas family at 96-07 133rd Ave. in Ozone Park. The owner of the house is Melissa Blas and the interior designer is Christine Baumann Interiors, 89-21 Shore Pkwy., Howard Beach.

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