One New York City Rowhouse takes on a changing climate
“It was only supposed to be a refurbishment. Then the city informed architect Thomas Paino and his partner, Peter Johnson, that their 1903 row house in Long Island City, Queens, would need to be raised three feet above the floodplain because it was at risk from storm surges and rising sea levels. That meant rebuilding entirely, so they figured they might as well make it an ultra-low-energy “passive house.” At some point between installing the green roof, the solar water heater, and the vegetable garden, they realized they were well on their way toward making a statement. Which is how they found themselves living on the top two floors of what they call Climate Change Row House.
The house has garnered much attention, although not for its laudable sustainability. Real estate blog Curbed New York, at odds with the exterior’s loud pattern of black, gray, and white tiles, dubbed it the “Ugliest House in Queens,” a moniker that made its way into the New York Times. “All of the upset was over the design of that facade,” Paino says, shaking his head. “But to me, the real revolution is what’s happening behind the wall.” (For the record, the original building had suffered a horrific 1970s-era renovation.)
Tenants who rent the two-bedroom ground-floor apartment will quickly notice something else about that wall: Despite boasting large picture windows, it blocks out nearly all traffic noise.