The most active architectural firms in New York in 2020
In the first weeks of 2020, architect Jonathan Marvel saw a constant flow of multi-family and public works jobs on his desk.
“And then it all came to a screeching halt,” he said.
Marvel’s eponymous firm was not alone. Design work has dried up at the height of the pandemic as many construction sites have closed and funding has become scarce.
However, once construction was allowed to resume in New York City, many companies saw their activity resume. The real deal has compiled a list of the most active architectural firms of 2020, based on the square footage of base projects.
For the purposes of this classification, TRD went by the architect listed on the new building permit applications filed between January 1 and December 4 with the city buildings department. The list includes several companies that have made it to the top 10 on several occasions in recent years, although a few new entrants have made it to the top 10 this year as well.
1. Marvel at | 11 projects | 2.1 million square feet
“Our regular and long-term customers have stayed with us, and I am very grateful to them,” said Jonathan Marvel. “I think there is a glimmer of light for 2021.”
The company was recently renamed Marvel – No “Architects” – to emphasize that its work goes beyond building design and other disciplines, including landscape architecture and town planning.
In May, the company applied for a permit for the third phase of Rockaway Village, a residential complex in Far Rockaway. The final phase includes three buildings at 20-12 and 21-02 Mott Avenue and 17-21 Redfern Avenue, with a total of 538 apartments. The three buildings are expected to collectively span 634,000 square feet, making the project Marvel’s biggest new building record of the year.
It should be inaugurated in early January. The five-phase project, which will eventually include 1,700 affordable apartments, is being developed by Phipps Houses.
2. Dattner Architects | 12 projects | 1.98 million square feet
Like Marvel, Dattner wasn’t among the top companies last year either, but ranked seventh in 2018.
“We feel like we’ve been really lucky to have entered the pandemic with a healthy backlog,” said Kirsten Sibilia, chief executive of the company. “The timing of projects has changed in many cases. Projects have slowed down, but there is a shared commitment to providing the affordable housing we need. “
Much of Dattner’s portfolio consists of affordable housing projects across the city. Its largest new filing this year was for a 585,000 square foot residential tower in 700 Atlantic Avenue at Prospect Heights. The building, which is being developed by Greenland Forest City Partners, is expected to include nearly 700 apartments and over 4,300 square feet of retail space. It’s part of the 22-acre Pacific Park site, a massive development that has faced a series of delays since it was first announced in 2003. The developer filed plans for the tower in May.
3. Architects Hill West | 6 projects | 1.1 million square feet
Much like last year, Hill West was the architect of reference for six new development projects that collectively spanned just over one million square feet. This year, however, the firm has jumped three spots from 2019, when it placed sixth.
In October, a permit application was filed for a 566,000 square foot mixed-use building at 355 Exterior Street in Mott Haven, Bronx. The project, which is Hill West’s largest construction project this year, will have over 555,000 square feet of residential space and over 10,000 square feet set aside for commercial use.
4. SLCE Architects | 4 projects | 848,972 square feet
In 2018, SLCE was the city’s most active architectural firm in terms of new developments. Last year, the company fell to fourth place, a position it held this year.
SLCE’s biggest project this year was a 47-story mixed-use tower planned at 98 DeKalb Avenue, on the border of downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene. The development is expected to span just over 418,000 square feet with 609 apartments and businesses on the first floor.
The firm also serves as a reference architect on a pair of apartment buildings in Long Island City at 55-01 Second Street and 2-10 54th Street which will span 1.43 million square feet. This project, as well as another at 43-14 Queens Street which will cover 770,000 square feet, was not included in this analysis, since they were filed after TRDdata extraction.
5. BL companies | 1 project | 770,822 square feet
Sometimes one is enough. This is the case of BL Companies, which appears as the reference architect on a single new building permit filed this year.
The project, almost 771,000 square foot warehouse slated for 55-15 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, is the future home of Amazon, which signed a lease for the space under construction in June. RXR Realty and its partner LBA Logistics bought the site in 2018 for $ 72 million.
BL Companies started in 1986, first as a small transport planning and civil engineering company. The company, now headquartered in Connecticut, has since grown into an architectural, engineering and surveying company.
6. Handel Architects | 2 projects | 613,882 square feet
In mid-April, a permit application was filed for a 320,000 square foot mixed-use building located at 35 Commercial Street in Greenpoint, which will include 374 apartments. Park Tower Group is developing the project, which is part of the 11-building Greenpoint Landing complex. The company, which is based in the Financial District, is also working on a nearly 300,000 square foot mixed-use building at 312 West 43rd Street.
7. Aufgang Architects | 6 projects | 613,849 square feet
Aufgang’s two biggest projects this year are part of the redevelopment of Peninsula Hospital, an 11-building complex in Far Rockaway developed by the Arker companies. This year, plans were filed for 5119 and 5123 Beach Channel Drive, mixed-use buildings that will span 220,500 and 161,800 square feet, respectively. The two buildings will have a total of 451 apartments.
8. GF55 Partners | 4 projects | 595,047 square feet
GF55 has been active in the outlying boroughs, with projects located in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The company’s most important new project was a 208,000 square foot residential building at 475 Bay Street in Staten Island. BFC Partners, the company behind Empire Outlets, is developing the project. The company’s second largest project was a 184,000 square foot mixed-use building at 1016 Fox Street in the Foxhurst section of the Bronx. The building is being developed by the Atlantic Development Group.
9. J. Frankl Architects | 5 projects | 594,470 square feet
Brooklyn-based J. Frankl focuses primarily on mixed-use residential projects. The company was founded in 2010 by Joseph Frankl, who decided to start a medium-sized business.
“In big companies there is a lot of bureaucracy,” he said.
The company is new TRDannual ranking of the most active architects. His largest project was a 172,000 square foot residential building at 26-25 Fourth Street in Astoria. The company is also designing a 131,000 square foot mixed-use building for developer Solomon Feder at 1640 Flatbush Avenue in Midwood. This project should include 171 apartments.
10. Architectonic | 2 projects | 538,141 square feet
Miami based Architectonic completed this year’s ranking, marking the first time since 2015 that the company made the cut. The company’s largest project in 2020 was a 300,000 square foot mixed-use building at 145 Wolcott Street in Red Hook. Draw Brooklyn is developing the project.