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The Sunnyside Gardens Residence

The Sunnyside Gardens Residence is a 1,000 sf single family row house located in the Sunnyside Gardens Historical District in Queens, New York.  Built in 1925, this compact 3 bedroom row house was design by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright in the Art Deco style. The structure underwent an extensive renovation that carefully incorporated Passive House EnerPHit standards with the building elements that contributed to the special architectural character of the district, including siting, style, scale, material and detailing.

Sunnyside Gardens was built from 1924 to 1928 as a philanthropic effort to ‘encourage greater equity in housing production, location, and design’ and stands as one of America’s best examples of low-density, low-rise residential development. Inspired by the English Garden City movement, the district was based on a concept that combines resource and environmental planning of typical urban and rural conditions to create an alternative for suburban living. A key signature for the Garden City style is the combination of single-, double, and triple-family private homes with rental apartment buildings and their arrangement around common gardens and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares. Long-time resident Lewis Mumford called Sunnyside Gardens “An exceptional community laid out by the people who were deeply human and who gave the place a permanent expression of that humanness.”

Paul A. Castrucci, Architects PLLC worked closely with the clients, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Parks Department, Queens Community Board #2 and the Hamilton Court Association to create a design that respects the character-defining features of the building and its historic context. Restoration of both primary and secondary facades began with a particular sensitivity to the original Hudson River Brick and its corbeled detail in the entablatures of each facade. The firm received full approval from the Commission, the first in the district, on the Passive House-certified simulated double hung windows - designed to incorporate historic elements into the energy-efficient triple pane design, including shadow lines, simulated divide lights, and a simulated double-hung function (a better performing window very similar in look to the historic wooden single pane double hung window). We also developed windows, paying close attention to original relationships of wall planes-to-windows, site lines from the street, color and material, and proper installation of all components by the contractor. Air sealing and brick restoration details were also developed for this project as well as facilitated contractor training to ensure proper installation. 

A new R-40 roof assembly integrated with the Sunnyside Gardens Residence’s mechanical system was designed to minimize energy use. High-efficiency mini-split HVAC units heat and cool the home, taking up much less space than the typical apartments’ due to the buildings reduced heating and cooling loads. Interior space is limited in this single-family rowhouse, so ductwork was kept to a minimum size to take up as little space as possible as it passed through the interior. Precise air sealing installation was designed to prevent thermal breaks. Hot water was supplied with heat pump hot water heaters. Energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting was used throughout. Finally, a 3.5kW Solar Photovoltaic array was installed on the roof to achieve near Net Zero energy capability. The solar layout was hidden from street view in order to respect its historical context. The home operates entirely on electricity - no natural gas or fossil fuels are used.

LOCATION: Sunnyside Historical District, Queens, NY

PROGRAM: Residential


CLIENT: Private

PARTNERS: NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Parks Department, Queens Community Board #2, Hamilton Court Association

In-process Passive House : Open House New York