Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roosevelt Birthplace, NYC

Today was a gorgeous day to take a tour of the historic townhouse site where Theodore Roosevelt was born and spent his youth. Located on East 20th Street south of Madison Square Park, this row house is tucked away among taller neighbors. Typical of New York City houses, it has undergone many changes since its heyday in the 1850s (including conversion to commercial use, complete razing, and ultimate reconstruction by prominent citizens in 1919!!)

There are many wonders to behold within the walls of this National Historic Site, including a stuffed lion shot by Theodore Roosevelt.

Of course, we were more interested in the interiors than taxidermy, and took a few snapshots of a mantel, the stunning chandeliers, and some intricate moldings. 

If you are visiting New York City, you can schedule a tour of this intriguing site, that blends into the fabric of a bustling city:   And if you are a history buff, be sure to check out the new film by Ken Burns called: The Roosevelts - An Intimate Story", which aired September 14th.

Feeling more ambitious, and ready for a roadtrip? You could always visit the Presidential memorial in South Dakota:

Mount Rushmore, carved from granite, courtesy Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Changes Afoot on the Streets of NYC

It is now easier than ever to get around! Did you know that New York City (NYC) was first to join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities?

According to WHO, members of the Network share “the desire and commitment to create physical and social urban environments that promote healthy and active ageing and a good quality of life for their older residents”. “Right now, there are 1 million people over 65 living in NYC, and by 2030 this number is expected to increase by 50% -- the most rapid increase in history”.   The goal of Age-friendly NYC is to challenge “all sectors of the city to rethink aging and consider how best to serve and benefit from this growing population”.  2  

The following are a few improvements underway in NYC:
Photo by CityBench 3

  • The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) is installing 1,500 comfortable, steel benches throughout the city, known as CityBench, with the goal of improving walkability and integrating public transit into the bustling fabric of everyday life. All New Yorkers are encouraged to recommend locations, which will be installed on a rolling basis by 2015. 4  You can request a bench at:
  • NYC offers wheelchair-accessible yellow taxis from Manhattan to anywhere in the five boroughs, call 311 or use the mobile app “Wheels on Wheels” WOW! 
  • If you’d rather drive yourself, Kenguru has plans to manufacture an electric vehicle with rear-opening gate for wheelchair users to roll into. Not yet available in the U.S., we expect good things from this innovative green machine.
  • is an online map to help you find wheelchair-accessible places, including restaurants and subways.
  • Age-friendly NYC has a pilot program in East Harlem, the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant. If you live in one of NYC’s Aging Improvement Districts, or would like to create one, check out:

These are just a few resources to make the hustle & bustle of NYC easier to navigate. Your home should also be a comfortable refuge, adapted to suit your needs. For more information on Age-Friendly NYC, click here:

Lynne Funk, principal of LFA Architects, and Stacey Kmetyk, Certified Aging in Place Specialist and Feng Shui Practitioner, work together to solve spatial issues and improve accessibility in the home and workplace.
Ms. Kmetyk and Ms. Funk bring their expertise and love of design to this specialty. If you or a loved one need help improving mobility, safety and access, give us a call. We are full of ideas and practical know-how to get the job done and to exceed your expectations.

For more information, please contact us at: or 212-463-9519.

1. “Ageing and Life Course: WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities,” The World Health Organization, August 20, 2014.

2. “Age-Friendly New York City: About Us,” The New York Academy of Medicine, August 20, 2014.

3. Laermer, Emily. “City program aims for 1,000 benches in 5 boroughs,” Crains New York. October 20, 2011. (Photo)

4. “, Pedestrians: CityBench,” New York City Department of Transportation, August 20, 2014.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Guastavino Tile --Beautiful & Functional

Guastavino structural tile vaults: the technique was patented in 1885 by Spanish architect & builder Rafael Guastavino, who then worked with his son after the turn of last century. Examples are found in several hundred buildings in NYC; there are a thousand installations in the United States. On the left is Wolfgang's Steakhouse at 4 Park Avenue, Manhattan.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cityscape: View From The Water

Now that Spring has sprung, we are looking forward to outdoor adventures in the built environment.  One event on our "must-do" list is the architecture cruise offered by AIA NY and Classic Harbor Line. There are several tours offered including Infrastructure, Lower Manhattan or Around Manhattan, which circumnavigates the entire island.

See the sights while earning AIA credits, or just go for the fun of it, either way you are sure to learn a lot about New York City and its history. For more information:


(above) 1937 Travelogue documentary distributed by RKO Radio Pictures and produced by the Van Beuren Corporation. Part of the World on Parade series. Courtesy To watch, click here:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maisonettes: Little Homes in the Big City

Have you ever strolled by a doctor's office on the ground floor of a brownstone, or in a regal building on Park Avenue, and been nostalgic for days when using local businesses was the norm?

Considering how intimidating hospitals and medical complexes can be, we appreciate smaller ground-floor offices integrated into neighborhoods, which can often be found in historic districts. These ground floor spaces are called "masionettes", or "little home" in French.  Masionettes often have high ceilings, private yards, access to building amenities and sometimes a private entrance.


Today we are mulling over an article written by Amy Zimmer, who has identified a trend in the NYC real estate market, in which these spaces are being reclaimed for residential use. Read her full article here: We noticed that 998 Fifth Avenue, designed by McKim, Mead & White has undergone such a transformation.  Another, according to Curbed, was proposed as a triplex conversion at 830 Park Avenue. Check it out at:

Contrary to Zimmer's observation, over the last decade LFA's clients on the UES and UWS of Manhattan have converted ground floor residential apartments into doctors' offices, though we can see that in a thriving estate market, these unique units have a lot of appeal as residential spaces, too.  Although ground floor spaces are closer to traffic, they are  often easier to access without taking the stairs.  Working with new clients, LFA Architects is incorporating design choices that allow "Aging in Place", working with specialist Stacey Kmetyk (  

We enjoy spotting ground floor maisonettes on Sunday jaunts in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights.  If you have an unusual project or architectural challenge, look us up at

Photo 1: streetview of an oral surgery practice in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Photo 2: as found on July 31, 2012  attributed to Corcoran Group Real Estate