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New York Building Foundation
Contact: Cathy DelliCarpini-Kruse (212) 481-9230
Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
Contact: Bud Perrone (212) 843-8068

NEW YORK – The New York Building Foundation, the charitable arm of the New York Building Congress, issued a new report in November entitled Construction for a Livable City. The report considers the impact of construction worksites on the public and offers a series of recommendations designed to improve the appearance and effect of building sites on the urban environment.

The report notes that, while the building industry already implements many common sense practices to ensure safe and attractive worksites, these practices are not codified or followed systematically.  The Foundation’s goals for this report were to highlight industry best practices, encourage wider implementation, review specific site management issues, and establish a framework for promoting and refining recommendations.

In preparing the report, the Building Foundation retained a consultant and assembled a working group of industry leaders.  The consultant examined a broad range of worksite issues and best practices.  The group then created a series of broad standards and a worksite checklist designed to serve as the basis for a citywide site improvement program.

Four broad areas of concern were identified and highlighted as sources for improvement.

Construction Sheds and Arcades
Construction sheds cover approximately one million linear feet – or almost two hundred miles – of City streets.  While the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) sets minimum standards for height, illumination and structural integrity, no guidelines exist for overall quality, appearance or impact on pedestrians.

Fences and Barriers
Beyond DOB guidelines for public safety and advertising restrictions, there are no universally accepted practices about placement, maintenance and aesthetics for worksite barriers.

General Worksite Conditions
The report recommends a comprehensive effort to address worksite noise, cleanliness, environmental issues and pedestrian impacts.

Public and Community Relations
Several innovative approaches to communicating with the public about projects are highlighted and recommended for wider implementation.

The report concludes with a sample checklist of common sense, low-cost measures that, if followed, could improve the look, feel and operation of building sites throughout New York City.  The list includes 29 items in four broad categories: Operations and Safety; Environmental Impact; Image and Design; and Community Relations. 

Construction for a Livable City outlines some of the challenges ahead and makes broad recommendations for ways to begin a site improvement program,” said Building Foundation Chairman Dominick M. Servedio.  “But the real work must be undertaken by the industry leaders who are being counted on to apply them to their projects.  It is only through that process that we can create a series of best practices that can be adapted and replicated easily and in a cost effective manner.”

Construction for a Livable City also features several case studies that demonstrate the positive impact such efforts can have when a team of owners, designers, contractors and skilled labor pull together.  In particular, the report examines each site’s programs to improve community relations, safety and aesthetics. The case studies include:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park construction;
  • MetroNorth’s facilities upgrade at Grand Central Terminal;
  • Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion;
  • The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center’s World Trade Center work; and,
  • The American Museum of Natural History’s main façade and rotunda renovation.

Recognizing the importance of constructive and positive feedback, the report recommends the creation of a resource to coordinate efforts, report on progress and promote successful worksite improvement programs, both within the industry and to the broader public.  Such an initiative should include the establishment of a program that recognizes and rewards exceptional achievement. 

The full report is available on the New York Building Congress website at


The New York Building Congress is a membership coalition of business, labor, association and government organizations promoting the design, construction and real estate industry in New York City.

Published on

Dec 11, 2010 by New York Building Congress