Posts tagged with "New York":

Reimagine the Canals: Competition

The New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation launched a competition seeking ideas to shape the future of the New York State Canal System, a 524-mile network composed of the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal. Selected ideas will be awarded a total of $2.5 million toward their implementation. The New York State Canal System is one of the most transformative public works projects in American history. The entire system was listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2017 for its role in shaping the American economy and urban development. Despite its past success, vessel traffic on the Canal System has steadily declined over the last century. Deindustrialization and competition from rail, pipelines, roadways and the St. Lawrence Seaway, put the Canals at a disadvantage in transporting freight. Pleasure boating activity levels have likewise fallen and are today only half what they once were. In contrast to the decreasing maritime activity on the Canal System, recreational uses along it – from hiking and bicycling in spring, summer, and fall to cross-country skiing and ice fishing in winter – have grown in popularity. The 750-mile Empire State Trail, which will run from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, is expected to be completed in 2020. It will further enhance opportunities for recreation along portions of the Canal System. To date, however, much of the Canal System’s potential to stimulate tourism and economic activity in the communities along its corridor remains untapped. To address the challenges and opportunities facing the Canal System, the Competition seeks visionary ideas for physical infrastructure projects as well as programming initiatives that promote:
  • the Canal System as a tourist destination and recreational asset
  • sustainable economic development along the canals and beyond
  • the heritage and historic values of the Canal System
  • the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal System
The two-stage Competition is open to individuals, businesses, non-profits and municipalities. Respondents are encouraged to form multidisciplinary teams. These could include, for example, urban designers and architects, planning and community specialists, hydrologists, infrastructure engineers, artists and curators, development economists, real estate developers, local officials and financing partners. Submissions from both domestic and international teams are welcome. Submission deadline is January 5, 2018. More details about the Competition structure, timeline, and submission guidelines can be found on the website.
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Robert A.M. Stern says New York 2020 is happening

In a recent interview with AN Interior, the magazine by The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), former Yale dean Robert A.M. Stern gave us a glimpse into his new life post–New Haven. While we were looking for tips on what shows and exhibitions to see around New York, he surprised us with a little tidbit: Despite swearing that he would never do it, the prolific author confirmed with AN that he is, in fact, working on New York 2020, the sixth in the series. More details to follow.
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Regional Plan Association unveils the final designs for the Fourth Regional Plan

The Regional Plan Association (RPA) has unveiled the final designs for the Fourth Regional Plan. The four schemes envision a New York–New Jersey–Connecticut metropolitan area 25 years into the future while addressing the emerging challenges the region faces and also capitalizing on new opportunities. Initiated by The Rockefeller Foundation, the competition began in January and asked architects, planners, and designers to incorporate elements such as policy changes, future investments, and growth patterns into the plans. The winning proposals were selected in March and, through a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, they were each awarded $45,000 to work with RPA and a team of professionals to develop their ideas further. In doing so, the four winners expanded their programs, looking at four regional corridors. Dubbed "4C," the RPA describes the designs as a "principal component" of its upcoming Fourth Regional Plan, titled A Region Transformed. The four corridors in question are: Coast Rafi A+U and DLAND Studio Creating what they call a "bight," the two studios propose an artificial coastline that bridges the boundary between the built environment and the water, addressing rising sea levels around Long Island with half-submerged communities able to continue living when change inevitably happens. https://player.vimeo.com/video/227158218 City Only If and One Architecture Defined as the "Triboro Corridor," the plan sees light rail utilizing already-laid freight rail tracks in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. The project would foster development around the new stations; new rail service would connect to existing subway and commuter rail lines. As One Architecture told The Architect's Newspaper, the plan aims to "transform the region’s transportation system from a hub and spoke system to a more resilient network with circumferential connections, greater redundancy, and community amenities." Suburbs WORKac Just as with Only If and One Architecture's scheme, WORKac's plan is centered around transit and connecting underserved neighborhoods around a ring of suburbs from the New York cities of Port Chester and White Plains, through the New Jersey cities of Paterson, Montclair, Rahway and Perth Amboy. Highlands PORT Urbanism and Range Covering the entire region, this proposal spans from the Delaware River to Northern Connecticut. The scheme allows wildlife—not humans—to enjoy the area and migrate north as a result of climate change. The Highlands Corridor would also utilize streams and valleys to connect to the coast. An exhibition of the of final design can be found at Fort Tilden through September 17. Find out more here.
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Governor Cuomo’s bridge lighting plan draws criticism amid MTA stalls and shutdowns

Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo excitedly discussed plans to illuminate seven bridges across New York City with multicolored LED lights choreographed to music. Those bridges, along with the Empire State Building and One World Trade, were first slated for installation in winter 2017. Now, among massive stalls and shutdowns at MTA stations across the city—dubbed “the summer of hell” for commuters and tourists alike—critics are gearing back up to question how the city is spending on public infrastructure. A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo, Jon Weinstein, emailed Politico to say the bridge lighting project “is definitely NOT being paid for by the MTA,” indicating the costs could be split between the New York City Power Authority and Empire State Development. The MTA and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) seem to think otherwise: In March, the NYPA’s Board was shown a $216 million estimate for the plan with the MTA picking up the tab, although this was an unaudited financial plan with the project cost as a placeholder. Critics have been quick to distinguish cosmetic from reparative lighting—for instance, bridge and tunnel fixtures repaired after Hurricane Sandy. For example, recent upgrades to one of these post-Sandy projects, the rehab of the tunnel and exit plaza on the Manhattan side of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, included $7.3 million in additional funds to create a decorative blue-and-gold tiling pattern that reflects the state's official colors. Additionally, the Port Authority has officially withdrawn the George Washington Bridge from the lighting portion of the collective plan, which has been dubbed New York Crossings. However, that initiative doesn’t end with its lights. The governor's office has framed New York Crossings as a public art project that would address a number of other civic concerns: incorporating automatic tolling designed to reducing commute times, increasing checkpoint security (through facial recognition software at these stations), seismic updates to each bridge (the plan also incorporates reinforced concrete armoring units underwater), and sustainability (introducing LED units wherever possible). The projected end date for New York Crossings is currently May 2018, even as the governor's office claims the MTA is spending no money on the initiative. An independent review by watchdog group Reinvent Albany estimated the agency has spent roughly $40 million on the decorative towers and LED lighting so far.
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New report on Hudson River rail tunnel anticipates costs rising to $13 billion

The expected costs of a new Hudson River rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey—part of the wider Gateway Project—have risen after an evaluation of the project’s environmental and economic impacts. The report, released last Thursday by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT), examines the environmental impact of the project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to The New York Times, the estimated total costs of the tunnel were calculated to be $13 billion, a drastic increase from the $7.7 billion that had originally been announced. The impact study for the tunnel is a necessary step before construction can begin. Regarded as one of the most critical infrastructure projects in the U.S., this new tunnel is expected to help replace the century-old one currently used by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains. Due to the old tunnel’s steady deterioration and damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, local officials are concerned that its continued use will require major repairs. Such repairs will very likely be a major disruption to the region’s transit networks and economy. Additionally, the security of the project’s funding has become precarious and uncertain under the Trump Administration, which “has not committed to providing federal financing for the tunnel, raising questions about whether it supports the project,” as The New York Times states. Most recently, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) withdrew its cooperation from the Gateway Program Development Corporation. While this does not mean the project has been denied funding, the DOT said “the decision underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring there is no appearance of prejudice or partiality in favor of these projects ahead of hundreds of other projects nationwide." For more on the Gateway program and other transportation plans for the New York metro region, see our previous coverage here.
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“Operation Vandelay Industries” fake architect faces jail time after pleading guilty to charges

Dubbed a "fake architect," Paul Newman, from Troy, New York has pleaded guilty to his crime of fraudulently claiming to be an architect on more than 100 properties. Paul J. Newman, 49, and president (and sole employee) of architecture firm, Cohesion Studios, Inc. was arrested in late April this year and the story caused a stir when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office dubbed the investigation: “Operation Vandelay Industries,” a nod to George Costanza’s falsely proclaimed occupation as an architect.* During his career, Newman was paid in excess of $180,000 for his services. This included drafting architectural renderings and signing off projects for more than 100 properties in Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties. Some projects were even sizeable housing complexes. In addition to this, Newman submitted foundation inspections, field reports, energy compliance certificates, AIA documents, and engineer letters to a number of municipal agencies. As he did this, he falsely certified that he was a registered and licensed architect. Newman, in his trial, admitted defrauding construction firms, businesses, and local government agencies across the three aforementioned counties of more than $115,000. In total, he pleaded guilty to six felony charges and faces between two and seven years in jail. Newman submitted these architectural renderings, as well as foundation inspections, field reports, energy compliance certificates, and engineer letters to various towns and cities—falsely certifying on the documents that he was a registered and licensed architect and affixing a forged New York State Registered Architect Stamp or Professional Engineer Stamp. "Throughout the course of his fraudulent career, the defendant repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for the public safety of New Yorkers and a determination to cheat the system," said Schneiderman in a statement. "The state law is clear—no license, no architectural work for you. No one is above that standard." According to prosecutors, Newman procured the license number of a registered architect online and used this to create a fake Registered Architect Stamp that displayed the real architect's number but Newman's name. He then applied this stamp to his work (documents and letters) which he gave to state and city authorities. Newman then advertised his supposed architectural services on social media. After a complaint to the New York State Education Department, he removed any reference to “architecture” in his ads and replaced it with “design.” A statement from Schneiderman's office details the felonies of which he pleaded guilty to:
Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, in Saratoga County Court before the Honorable James A. Murphy, III. Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree in Albany County Court before the Honorable William A. Carter. Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony, and Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony, in Rensselaer County Court before the Honorable Debra J. Young.
A list of the projects he fraudulently worked on was also listed:
  • The Pastures Project, Town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer, New York
  • Between 2010 and 2015, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 70 townhouses, receiving in excess of $50,000 for his services.
  • The Livingston Project, City and County of Albany, New York
  • Between 2012 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $40,000.
  • The Lofts Project, Town of Malta, Saratoga, New York
  • Between 2014 and 2016, Newman was the Project Architect for the construction of a 214-unit multifamily apartment community, receiving in excess of $35,000.
  • The Vistas Project, Town of Clifton Park, Saratoga, New York
  • Between 2011 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 25 townhouses, receiving in excess of $35,000.
  • The Hannoush Jewelers Project, Town of Colonie, Albany, New York
  • Between 2011 and 2012, Newman was hired as the architect on a renovation project for a jewelry store, receiving in excess of $20,000.
  • The Ballston Senior Living Project, Town of Ballston, Saratoga, New York
  • Between 2012 and 2013, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $8,000.
 
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President Trump taps his son’s wedding planner to run N.Y. and N.J. federal housing programs

A longtime Trump family associate will soon be responsible for administering billions of dollars in federal housing funds. Lynne Patton organized the wedding of President's son, Eric Trump, coordinated Trump golf course tournaments, served as the Eric Trump Foundation's vice president, and is a senior aide to the Trump family. News broke today that—starting July 5—she'll be leading U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey. According to the New York Daily News, Patton has a long-running relationship with the Trumps that goes back to 2009 when she started as their "event planner." However, questions have immediately arisen regarding her qualifications for her new role at HUD. Her LinkedIn page lists a J.D. from Quinnipiac University but includes a "N/A"; Yale University is also listed but with no additional information. The New York Attorney General also began "looking into" The Eric Trump Foundation after a report from Forbes appeared to expose practices that broke state laws. Patton's directorship at HUD will include block grants and rental vouchers that go toward senior citizen programs and housing inspections; The New York Daily News reports that HUD funds 100 percent of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)'s capital repair budget and 70 percent of its operational budget. The role Patton is filling has been vacant since January 20.
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New petition wants to transform New York’s commuter infrastructure

The creation of a new or renovated Pennsylvania Station for New York has become a staple for the local daily news.

It is often presented as an architecture issue: the need for an alternative to the seriously flawed 1968 building on the site, or a quick fix for its 21 aging rail tracks. But ReThink Studio, a transportation think tank, has a well-thought proposal that considers a future for the station as a node in a much larger regional plan. It makes the point that any proposal to transform the station is meaningless unless its relationship to a much larger area is considered and well thought out. It is not just an architectural issue, but a planning issue that needs to be addressed by all levels of government.

Today, New York’s commuter rail infrastructure is a nightmare. Fixing this starts with phase one of Amtrak’s Gateway project for two new Hudson River Tunnels. Former Vice President Joe Biden has said that all of us need to push for this effort.

You can watch a video of ReThink Studio's plans below. If you are convinced by its conclusions, there is now a way to contact our elected officials and ask them to support the plan. By signing this petition, the studio will send a letter to President Donald Trump; Senator Mitch McConnell; Representatives Paul Ryan, Bill Shuster, Rodney Frelinghuysen; and Senators Mitch McConnell, James Inhofe, and Thad Cochran.

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Limited edition items available from Storefront for Art and Architecture

For their annual Spring Benefit, Storefront for Art and Architecture has commissioned a series of limited edition "artifacts" that they will have available for purchase on May 23rd at Federal Hall in Manhattan. It is the first in a series of planned collaborations. Artist Adam McEwan, design aficionado Murray Moss, and architects LOT-EK were the first group to design for the program. See the artifacts below, and get your tickets to the benefit here. Adam McEwan's  L-Ruler From the artist: "L-ruler is an edition consisting of a representation of a 12-inch L-ruler machined in graphite, a signature material of McEwen's practice. The ruler exists at the intersection of drawing, art, and architecture. The context of Storefront's role and position, grounded in architecture and experimentation, suggests the right angle of an L-ruler, as opposed to a plain straight edge. In theory, the edition is a technically accurate ruler and could be used as such. But, the soft materiality of graphite and its willingness to roll off of itself means that with use, the ruler would soon grow distorted—dented, imperceptibly curved, worn down, made out-of-true—rendering it increasingly unreliable, deceptive, and ultimately useless." LO-TEK'S LITE-SCAPES SF From the artist: "LITE-SCAPES SF is an edition of lighting fixtures. One liter of clear colorized latex rubber is cast and threaded through with a 20" tube of LED flexible neon. The topology of each fixture derives from the packaging insert that mediates between an electric toothbrush and its shipping box. These inserts are transferred mold castings of fibrous recycled paper slurry, sprayed from a pulp pool against a metal mesh mold, to which it is adhered by a vacuum. "This recycling of recycling, a casting of a casting, represents LOT-EK's interest in upstream/downstream vectors of material culture, and in the radically adaptive reuse or upcycling of our manufactured second nature. Castings of latex, a material beloved by both epidemiologists and fetishists, have some of the resilience and warmth of flesh." Murray Moss + Lobmeyr's Marilyn From the artist: "Marilyn is a boxed set of four crystal water/wine tumblers produced by the renowned Viennese crystal maker Lobmeyr, established 1823. Each glass in the set is hand engraved by Lobmeyr's master engraver with a different pattern of a 'crack.'" "These faux fractures illustrate the extreme fragility of the glass—they are the thinnest possible barrier between the liquid and our lips. Lobmeyr's "muslin" glasses are so thin that they have the ability to modify our behavior when using them, requiring us to be more delicate in order to avoid the very "cracks" which are in this case celebrated on each glass. "Far from rendering the objects damaged, these engraved flaws make the objects even more precious, much like a beauty mark. Marilyn gracefully demonstrates our fears and trepidation concerning vulnerability. Any fear of damage is pre-empted; the crack is an embellishment that becomes the decoration. 'Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.' -Marilyn Monroe"
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How New York State’s 2018 Budget will affect the built environment

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the 2018 state budget this month, nine days behind schedule. State operating funds (excluding federal and capital) stood at $98.1 billion—up two percent from 2017. All in all, New York will receive $153.1 billion in funding (including federal and capital funds).

Much of this money will be spent on infrastructure. The Greater Rochester International Airport will receive an initial $39.8 million to kick-start its transformation, with overall project costs estimated at $53.7 million. JFK too is in line for major—and much-needed—changes. The Kew Gardens Interchange will receive $564 million to aid the reconstruction of and expand capacity along the Van Wyck, improving access to the airport. Most of the changes to JFK Airport itself will come from a $7 billion private investment that will modernize terminals and accommodate a projected increase in passengers.

However, Governor Cuomo’s statement also burned bridges. The 77-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge, to be specific, will be demolished (a celebration party is being held on July 11). In its wake, two new state-of-the-art bridges, one Queens-bound and one Brooklyn-bound are to be constructed with a dedicated $270 million.

Meanwhile, $15 million will supplement a new Amtrak Station in Schenectady. Improved parking, lighting, and landscaping will fall under this allotted budget as will new walkways leading to the bus and rapid transit areas on State Street and the new parking area on Liberty Street.

But what about housing? Governor Cuomo’s “Vital Brooklyn” plan, which targets health, violence, and poverty in low-income communities around Brownsville, East New York, Flatbush, Crown Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant will receive $700 million.

Initially outlined (albeit vaguely) in early March, the $1.4 billion plan asserts itself as a “national paradigm.” It calls for more than 3,000 new multifamily units to be built on six state-owned sites, with options for supportive housing, public green space, and a home-ownership plan.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s “Affordable New YorkHousing Program, developers of new residential projects with 300 units or more in certain areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens will be eligible for a full property tax abatement for 35 years. This is, however, if the project creates a specific number of affordable rental units and meets newly established minimum construction wage requirements and the units remain affordable for four decades. Governor Cuomo estimates that the program will create roughly 2,500 new units of affordable housing each year.

Governor Cuomo also outlined plans to fund state parks and protect the environment. As per the $900 million New York Parks’ 2020 initiative, $120 million from the budget will further the “transformation of the state’s flagship parks” and “strategically leverage private funding to improve New York State Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation facilities and services.”

Moreover, Governor Cuomo disclosed $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, the most the state has ever pledged toward this. Within this sum, $41 million will be for solid waste programs, $86 million for parks and recreation, $154 million for open space programs, and $19 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.

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Update: Renovation of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center nears completion

UPDATE 8/8/2017: A new image of the Orange County Government Center surfaced on Twitter and sparked quite a discussion. That tweet has been embedded below; the original article begins after the break.
Since early 2016, when images surfaced showing the skeletal condition of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, construction has continued at a fast pace in the Village of Goshen, New York to renovate and expand the iconic Brutalist building. New pictures reveal the scope and scale of the renovations. This saga began in 2011 when the municipal occupants vacated the complex citing damages from Hurricane Irene and began the process of planning its remodeling. After Boston-based designLAB withdrew its proposal because of ethical concerns over the project’s scope, Rochester, New York–based Clark Patterson Lee took on the renovations. Against the almost united outcry of architects and preservationists, the county government ultimately decided to demolish roughly one-third of the complex and replace it with a new architectural appendage. The new wing cuts off access to the central courtyard from the outermost corners of the site and leveled much of the exterior site design, dramatically changing the building's relationship to the ground. Additionally, the corrugated concrete blocks from the facade were stripped from the reinforced concrete frame and replaced only after the interior walls and windows were gutted. The video below, from early April, shows construction in progress: In a meeting with the Orange County Building Committee in March of this year, Clark Patterson Lee presented a full set of floor plans. They show an extensive revision of the interior organization of space, favoring conventional double loaded hallways instead of Rudolph's more organic layout. The plans also indicate a subdued sectional profile that eliminates many of the dynamic elevational changes found in Rudolph's seminal sectional perspective drawing of the building. County officials were not immediately available for comment regarding their motivations for the interior refiguring or decision to demolish part of the historic structure. However, a recent report from The Warwick Advertiser does cite a county official who stated that the project would be done “on time and on budget.” For others though, discontent with the project persists. Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo US, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of modern architecture, recently visited the site, calling the renovations a “cultural crime.” She also highlighted the precarious future for Rudolph's other buildings around the country, including Government Civic Center in Boston. As construction comes to an end, loyal disciples of the Brutalist style may elegize the Orange County Government Center such as Rudolph designed it; however, architects may yet find value in the final building as a cautionary case study for how to strategize future preservation efforts.
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Fake architect faces jail time after practicing without a license

In an investigation dubbed "Operation Vandelay Industries," Paul Newman, from Troy, New York, has been arrested for practicing architecture without a license with his firm "Cohesion Studios." Newman, 49, faces up to 15 years in prison. The New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office referenced Seinfeld in the operation name—a nod to George Costanza's falsely proclaimed occupation as an architect.* Newman also shares his name with another character on the comedy, however, the joking stops there. Unlike Costanza, Newman will be facing the consequences of illegally signing off plans on more than 100 projects. "I'm indicting alleged fake architect Paul Newman on 58 counts as a result of our 'Operation Vandelay Industries,'" Schneiderman said in a tweet linked to a video from the 1992 episode of Seinfeld he was referencing. https://twitter.com/AGSchneiderman/status/855071505293733893 Newman is facing charges in three counties and has been accused of defrauding construction firms, businesses, and municipalities over the course of seven years. The projects he illegally worked on, pretending to be registered and licensed, were mostly housing, ranging from townhouses to senior living communities. Schneiderman's two-year investigation found that Newman had been practicing illegally since 2010. In the process, Newman had been paid almost $200,000 for his fraudulent services. ($200,000 over seven years: testament that crime does not pay, in this case at least.) The Attorney General Office's review of the Livingston Project—a 50-unit senior housing complex—turned up instances where Newman had forged certification stamps used for permit applications when he approved that the building had been constructed according to his plans. Even though Newman was breaking the law, Robert Magee, Albany's director of building and regulatory compliance, said the Livingston Project was "all done up to code." "Our inspectors had eyes on the project as it was happening," he told the Daily Gazette. "We didn't find a reason to revoke the certificate of occupancy we had issued." “For over seven years the defendant has pretended to be a registered architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers—including families and senior citizens—with the sole goal of enriching himself,” Schneiderman, meanwhile, said in a statement. “By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on.” As Nicholas Korody of Archinect notes: In just Rensselaer County, Newman, 49, faces the following charges: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, nine counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, three counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, and thirteen counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. All are felonies. *For the Seinfeld aficionado's out there, you are not mistaken: Vandelay Industries is not George Constanza's company when he is an architect. Art Vandelay is, in fact, that firm. Vandelay Industries, however, is the company Costanza uses to sell latex.