The state of New York’s plans to be carbon neutral by 2050 is driving NYC’s green building movement. The initiatives target all types of structures in the region, but their goals place a heavier emphasis on single and multifamily residences. This set of priorities are based on the results of a 2017 inventory which revealed residential buildings contribute up to two-thirds of the city’s overall carbon pollution. City and state-level officials passed new plans that put green construction and sustainable building methods at the forefront. The approved policies cover every corner of the housing market, not just for the metropolitan’s skyscrapers, but also for luxury single-family homes, student housing, and affordable housing units.
Below are the top designers and architects that have contributed to New York City’s green building initiatives. These firms have shaped the metro and its surrounding boroughs’ architectural landscapes through single-family and multi-family home designs that champion energy-efficiency, eco-friendly materials, and sustainable methods. The ranking is based on the architects’ activities relevant to the green housing movement, the accolades that they have earned over the years, their affiliations with industry organizations, their features in leading publications, and most importantly, the number and quality of green home designs that they have brought to life.
15) Tom Winter Architects
53 Bridge St. Suite #611, Brooklyn NY 11201
Tom Winter Architects (TWA) designs spaces that celebrate the balance between the functional and aesthetic elements of sustainability, resource conservation, and energy efficiency. To achieve these, the company relies on its arsenal of tools powered by new technologies, including parametric design, 3D printing, and building performance simulation. Its impressive architectural practices combine with its affinity to the industry’s green movement to make it a valuable member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC).
The company has connections not just in the US but also in Europe. Its offices in New York and Berlin allow it to serve an international network of clients that belong to public and private institutions. Tom Winter, the company’s principal, is a German-trained architect and is the US-Representative of the Federal German Architect Chamber’s Network for Architectural Exchange (NAX). Under his leadership, the company has been able to produce world-class quality designs that highlight the importance of green, smart, and sustainable practices.
The firm’s innovative designs in sustainable architecture can be observed in many of its residential projects. For instance, this 10,000-square foot Waterfront House found in Long Island’s North Shore is one of its notable accomplishments in single-family homes. The design embraced the industry’s green building practices by using geothermal heating and cooling. Other signature elements include green roofs, rain screens, ventilation throughout the residential space, automatic builds in every room, and photovoltaic panels on the roof. Additionally, the house is equipped with an indoor pool under a glass roof. Its glass walls are retractable, to give the observer unobstructed views of the nearby bay.
14) Perkins Eastman
115 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10003
Perkins Eastman is a global architectural firm that was founded in New York City in 1981. From a humble business venture, it has grown into 17 interdisciplinary businesses, with over one thousand employees working together across the globe. For its education, mixed-use, transit-oriented, healthcare, and other commercial and multifamily developments, the firm’s designs are inspired by its vision of a sustainable and resilient future.
While several of the company’s projects have been awarded high LEED scores, the firm believes that sustainability means much more than designing and building industry-accredited structures. As a long-standing member of the USGBC, the firm commits to lasting value by fostering the social, economic, and environmental resilience of its designs. It is also a member of the AIA 2030 Commitment, an initiative that promotes carbon neutrality. It is also certified by Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), a certification system catered to emerging markets.
As a champion of green architecture, especially for complex residential and mixed-use spaces, the firm has introduced architecturally stunning structures to New York City. The Battery Park City’s Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green Apartments, for instance, both earned LEED Gold certifications and are the first residential buildings in the city to use fuel cell technology. The designs of these buildings employ some of the most innovative methods in sustainable technologies. The most prominent elements present here are the photovoltaic panels installed on the bulkhead of the buildings. The structures also feature a blackwater system: a collection system that allows it to reuse water for tower cooling and toilet flushing.
13) GranKriegel Architects + Planners
237 36th St., Brooklyn, NY 11232
GranKriegel Architects + Planners’s contribution to the green design movement is affordable housing structures designed to meet sustainable standards and adhere to Enterprise Green Communities guidelines. This group aims to encourage and help developers, designers, and builders prioritize sustainable options and make the transition to a green housing future. To do this, the company is supported by a number of LEED-accredited architects. The firm has decades of experience in incorporating energy-saving design principles in every residential, commercial, and civic project it takes on.
The Hunterfly Trace Residence and the El Rio Supportive Housing Residence, for instance, are two of the many examples that embody the company’s commitment to using eco-friendly and sustainable practices. While many of its works in urban spaces such as New York put emphasis on sustainability, its excellence in traditional and contemporary design practices have also gained the attention of the industry’s most prestigious award-giving bodies such as the AIA, SARA, and the New York Society of Architects. Recent recognitions include SARA’s Design Award of Honor and the Building & Design Awards-Queens & Bronx Building Association, both for its Wales Avenue Supportive Housing Residence.
The firm’s managing principal, David Kriegel, is a member of AIA and a LEED accredited professional. For over 30 years, he has practiced architecture with the goal of focusing on issues of sustainability. From award-winning single-family homes, academic institutions, to notable retail and commercial clients, Kriegel’s success in the industry is marked by multiple AIA design awards and numerous publication features on The New York Times, Interior Design magazine, and the Architectural Record.
44 Court St., Unit #506, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Established by Susannah Drake in 2005, DLANDStudio is an interdisciplinary design company that was born from its founder’s vision to deliver designs that promote more ecologically productive cities. To achieve this goal the company has committed to the development of methods that combine the best of what environmental and engineering structures can offer in creating genuine change in the built environment. Awards from the AIA, The Chicago Athenaeum, the New York City Public Design Commission, and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) are testaments to its business practices and professional commitment to quality.
The firm’s innovative and sustainable ecological practices are well-implemented in many of its works. Over the years, it has completed commercial, civic, and residential projects that celebrate green design and eco-friendly architecture. Regional and local projects can be found in the firm’s portfolio. Many of these celebrate the aesthetic and practical values of sustainable architecture, especially for its single-family designs.
The Willow Residence and Sidney Residence are two of the firm’s most interesting projects. These residential landscape designs can be found in Brooklyn. The latter features exterior and interior spaces that flow together. The most inspiring part of the design is a private garden which was created to achieve environmental sustainability through a clever water channeling system that provides an irrigation alternative for plantings during dry weather. The former, on the other hand, was built upon the rustic elements of the area’s carriage house yard. The firm used natural and repurposed materials for the project’s most interesting touches.
11) Desai Chia Architecture
115 West 27th St. Suite #901, New York, NY 10001
Authentic designs and inspiring living spaces characterize Desai Chia Architecture’s background. The firm was founded in 1996 by Katherine Chia, AIA fellow and Arjun Desai, also a member of the AIA. Many of the company’s design projects cater to clients from commercial, residential, and cultural projects.
The company collaborates with other artists to answer to the different demands of its most sophisticated clientele in the US and abroad. The firm’s services expand throughout Toronto, Bangalore, and the United Kingdom. Its expertise has been recognized for years, with multiple projects being published extensively in the industry’s biggest venues. Architecture Magazine ranked the company 19th in the nation for its excellence in design. Desai Chia also picked up the AIA Institute Honor Award and Design Award, several American Architecture Awards, Good Design Awards, and the IDEA award, to name just a few.
One of the company’s core missions is to deliver architecture that not only celebrates the functional and aesthetic qualities of design, but also the transformative value of its works. The studio is known among its peers as a company that focuses on social and humane architecture through sustainable technical strategies. The company consistently delivers unique, evocative, eco-friendly, and enduring structures.
10) Rice + Lipka Architects
40 Worth Street, Suite 828, New York, NY 10013
Rice+Lipka Architects’s (R+L) unconventional approach to normative issues to its building, planning, art, and cultural projects make this architecture studio one of the most memorable firms in the city. Since its founding in 2004, it has developed an iterative method in design that embraces practical constraint. Moreover, the company describes itself as curious by nature, exploring opportunities to reveal the conceptual and pragmatic potentials of every design project it takes on.
Lyn Rice and Astrid Lipka, the firm’s principals, are both LEED-accredited professionals. Rice, an AIA fellow, founded the company in 2004 with the vision of bringing a “resourceful civic-mindedness” to a range of the company’s projects. Lipka, on the other hand, has been in the industry for years. Even before the establishment of the company, the two have already been working together to deliver numerous projects which include the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, a work that won the 2009 International Architecture Award and the National AIA Honor Award.
In New York, the company serves a variety of markets including the academic, cultural, commercial, institutional, research, and residential sectors. For its single-family design projects, the firm has worked with private and confidential clients to deliver unforgettable living spaces that celebrate environmentally-sound designs. With its principals’ background in sustainable practices, many of its works in rural and urban settings demonstrate its capacity to incorporate the industry’s green building and design initiatives.
9) BKSK Architects
28 West 25th St., 4th Fl., New York, NY 10010
BKSK Architects’ commitment to responsible design has been firmly in place for three decades. Company standards in conceptualizing sustainable structures extend beyond industry rating systems. In every project that it takes on it bases its methods on USGBC’s LEED standards. This facilitates seamless integration since its projects are designed to earn LEED Gold (or higher) qualification, regardless of the client’s need for certification.
One of the company’s most notable current projects in New York City is a multifamily structure created to meet the Passive House Certification, a premier standard in designing and building spaces that highlights quality, comfort, and energy efficiency. The project, located at 470 Columbus Avenue earned the SARA NY Design Awards of Merit in 2018, and the Green Good Design Award granted by the Chicago Athenaeum & European Centre for Architecture, among others. In other areas of the city, the company boasts Platinum, Gold, and Silver certified commercial, civic, and residential structures.
The Interior Design Magazine, Architectural Digest, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among others, have featured the company’s journey to becoming one of the most influential green companies in the region. Since its founding in 1985, the company has been guided by the values and professional expertise of its partners, all of whom are members of the AIA and recognized by the USGBC.
8) Richard Meier & Partners Architects
475 10th Ave., New York, NY 10018
It was in 1963 when Richard Meier established his own office in New York. Since then, his company, Richard Meier & Partners Architects has won high-value contracts for many well-known projects in the country. These include Los Angeles’s Getty Center, Georgia’s High Museum of Art, New York’s Perry and Charles Street Condominiums, among others.
The firm has also completed projects in Europe and Asia. The Jubilee Church in Rome, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Spain, and the Canal+ Television Headquarters in France are just a few of its many accomplishments. With all these exemplary milestones, in 1884, Meier earned the highest honor in the field, the Pritzker Prize for Architecture. Additionally, he is a fellow of two premier organizations, the AIA and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
While the company is known for delivering spectacular design and architectural works to the region’s commercial, residential, and civic structures, it is also one of the industry’s leaders in green design. As an active member of the USGBC, it has collaborated with the best general contractors in the country to produce LEED-certified and AIA-recognized projects, especially for the commercial and multifamily markets. Many of these works and accomplishments have been featured in publications like Architect Magazine, Architectural Digest, and the Interior Design Magazine.
423 West 127th St., 6th Fl., New York, NY 10027
GLUCK+ provides single-source responsibility from design to construction, all under one roof. Its Architect-Led Design Build approach emphasizes the importance of relying on a single team of experts to cater to the architectural, construction management, and construction demands of the region’s most sophisticated client pool.
The firm’s founder and principal, Peter Gluck, has decades of experience in designing a series of residential projects across New York, Newfoundland, and Tokyo. In the U.S., the firm’s practice led by five principals includes residential, religious, education, recreation centers as well as historic preservation projects are recognized worldwide, with milestones marked by national and global design awards and press features. For instance, in 2019, the firm won the Design Award of Merit given by SARA NY for its Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning. The company also earned multiple recognitions from the AIA for years, with the institution commending the company with the Housing Honor Awards, the QUAD Design Award for Residential Design, Architecture Merit Awards, and the National Housing Awards, to name a few.
Sustainability and green building initiatives can be found in the firm’s most complex works. Bridge, for instance, is a multi-awarded luxury apartment design that has been awarded LEED Gold certification. The project can be found in Old City, Philadelphia. In New York, the company’s modern and contemporary single-family residences showcase its capacity in terms of designing and constructing spaces that blend perfectly with its natural environment. The Tower House, for instance, is a vacation house which was designed to embrace the natural and aesthetic elements of the woodside. The design keeps the footprint to a minimum, so as not to disrupt the natural ecology of the location. Its vertical configuration takes advantage of the stack effect for natural ventilation.
6) Marvel Architects
145 Hudson St., 10013, New York, NY 10013
Solutions-driven design practices describe Marvel Architect’s approach to architecture. Many of its designs integrate context and nature, a method that allows the firm to deliver thoughtful and iconic projects that have helped secure its ranks in the industry for more than 50 years. Additionally, its entrepreneurial approach to architecture and place-making has been recognized in the form of over 125 industry design awards, including the highest recognition from the AIA.
The firm’s New York and San Juan offices allow it to cater to an international clientele. Its expertise in architecture, interior design, urban design, and landscape architecture allowed it to answer to the most sophisticated demands of highly complex sectors. Currently, the firm serves a wide spectrum of markets for its affordable housing, cultural, high-end multi-residential, and hospitality projects.
Jonathan Marvel, the company’s founding principal, is an AIA fellow who has over 30 years of experience. Throughout his career, he has completed projects for iconic structures in New York such as Brooklyn’s New Lab and the Building 77, Saint Anne’s School, and Saint Ann’s Warehouse. Additionally, under his leadership, the firm completed memorable residential projects in the city, such as the 620,00-square-foot Pierhouse complex which is known for its green spaces, its energy-efficient designs, and its eco-friendly architecture. The building earned multiple awards, including a number of Building Brooklyn Awards, the National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency, the AIA Brooklyn-Queens Design Merit Award, and the AIA Housing Award – Multifamily Category.
14 Wall St., New York, NY 10005
As one of the oldest and most accomplished architectural, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the country, SOM has delivered over 10,000 projects in over 50 countries across the globe. The company is not only renowned and highly commended for its iconic design projects, but also for its commitment to excellence, sustainability, and innovation. Its principals and partners combine decades of experience and affiliations with the AIA, the Interior Design Hall of Fame, and the USGBC.
The firm currently serves high-value and complex markets including the aviation, civic, cultural, educational, health, sports, transportation, mixed-use, and residential industry. Many of its works for these sectors have been recognized for their outstanding feats in terms of value, sustainability, and sheer architectural brilliance. In 2019, five of the firm’s works earned the ULI Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence. Additionally, its work for the UC Santa Barbara’s San Joaquin Villages won the AIA Housing Award. The USGBC Los Angeles also honored the firm with the Sustainable Innovation Awards.
The company designed the 35 Hudson Yards, the tallest tower in Manhattan’s private real estate development, the Hudson Yards. The company combined its expertise in architectural design and structural engineering in order to create the 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use project that is expected to be completed in 2019. The plan covered 143 private residences, as well as an Equinox luxury hotel and fitness club and spa. Office spaces and ground-floor retail businesses will also be housed in the building. The overall design was fashioned to achieve a LEED Gold Certification. Its impressive architectural feats have been highlighted in multiple press features such as the Commercial Observer, Arch Daily, The New York Times, and Curbed NY.
4) Stephen B. Jacobs Group, PC/Andi Pepper Interior Design
381 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
Stephen B. Jacobs Group’s combination of its expertise in architecture and interior design can deliver a seamless performance, and this has been its signature method since its founding in 1967. Many of its commissions are from high-value clients coming from a wide spectrum of multi-residential and hospitality markets. Over the years, it has completed works that have been recognized by the biggest institutions and publications in the industry such as SARA, AIA, Build Magazine, New York Construction, Vision Long Island, and Hospitality Design magazine. Stephen B. Jacobs, FAIA, the firm’s president and founder, has worked as a designer and planner for many of the region’s largest projects. Under his leadership, the firm has not only been a trailblazer in shaping the city’s architectural landscapes, but it’s also one of the drivers in the industry’s commitment to green design.
The Edge, for instance, is a sustainable mixed-use development project that was completed in 2011 for Douglaston Development. The 1.3 million-square-foot project, located in Brooklyn, was a full-service work, from its overall architectural design to the structure’s interior aesthetics. It was by far the most ambitious project in the city, consisting of four buildings that include residential towers and market-rate apartments. To date, it is the largest residential project in New York City that holds a LEED Gold Certification.
The most interesting thing about the design concerns the choice of its materials and functionalities. These include regionally sourced construction materials, with 70% of energy purchased from major renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar, and biomass. Additionally, the project’s contractor used biodiesel to fuel its on-site construction equipment. The building also houses bike storage rooms, an on-site hybrid Zip Car location, restored waterfront access, and roof terraces designed with heat reflective pavers.
3) Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP)
42 W 39th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Since 1986, Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) has been designing award-winning green projects throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley. Its founder and principal, Magnus Magnusson, is a community development expert. He also serves as a member of the AIA and a is a LEED accredited professional. Under his leadership, the firm has secured its ranks as one of the leading architectural firms in the region, especially when it comes to green design and sustainable architecture.
As a part of the green building and design revolution, the company produces designs that meet the most stringent industry requirements. Many of its works passed the qualifications set by the NYSERDA Multi-Family Building Performance Program for New Construction. These projects also meet the standards of Energy Star and hold certifications approved by the USGBC’s LEED for Homes Mid-Rise structures. These architectural feats are well-documented in the industry’s leading publications, including Multi-Housing News, Arch Daily, Builder Magazine, Designing New York: Quality and Affordable Housing, the New York Times, and many more.
The firm’s Webster Green project, for instance, was an answer to the housing needs of The Doe Fund. The mixed-use affordable and supportive housing structure is true to its name, designed green and incorporated with sustainable initiatives. One highlight of the building’s design is a large non-accessible green roof installed on its 7th floor. It is also equipped with a photovoltaic system at its top roof and a rainwater harvesting system. Eco-friendly materials were also chosen, such as low-E thermally broken Energy Star-certified windows, water-saving showerheads and faucets, low VOC paints, caulks, and primers.
2) Cookfox Architects
250 West 57th St., New York, NY 10107
COOKFOX Architects is focused on high-performance, environmentally responsive design; it is best-known for innovative design at the highest standard of environmental performance, including One Bryant Park, the first LEED Platinum commercial skyscraper; the firm’s current studio, which has achieved LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certification; and a high-performance biophilic design for 150 Charles, a stunning LEED Gold residential condominium building in the West Village. The studio is led by six partners and founding partner Rick Cook.
The work derives from principles of biophilic design to create architecture that supports physical health and mental wellness. The studio’s portfolio of diverse residential, workplace, and education projects is driven by the belief that healthy environments are connected to nature via physical, visual and psychological connections that stimulate an innate positive biological response as they mimic or integrate natural processes.
COOKFOX is deeply committed to social equality in its work and operations and passionate in its advocacy of architecture that promotes equality. The studio has diversified its portfolio to include supportive housing, affordable housing, and educational facilities. Current projects include affordable housing in Brooklyn, supportive housing in the Bronx for formerly homeless older individuals and a school building for at-risk children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
1) Handel Architects
120 Broadway, 6th Fl., New York, NY 10271
Handel Architects designed The House, the largest and tallest residential building in the world that was built to meet the industry’s Passive House specifications. The multi-awarded project was completed in 2017 and was a part of the 2.1 million-square-foot technology campus of Cornell Tech. The building was the residential component of the campus, designed to adhere to sustainable standards, specifically in terms of energy efficiency and the promise of providing an environment that is healthier and more comfortable for its residents.
The House is the tallest structure on campus. For its exterior, the designers chose a state-of-the-art paint that changes colors when reflecting light. The facade is made out of prefabricated metal panel system. This choice of material is ideal because it acts as a thermally insulated blanket that wraps around the building. Bedroom and living spaces maintain a superior indoor air quality through ducts channeled into each room. The building is expected to save over 800 tons of carbon dioxide annually: the equivalent of planting 5,300 new trees.
Since its founding in 1994, the company has led the region’s green building movement through sustainable and energy-efficient designs. Gary Handel, an AIA fellow and the firm’s principal, heads over 180 architects, designers, and planners. The firm’s offices are based in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and Hong Kong, and its teams have collaborated with general contractors to serve a wide array of clients from the residential, hospitality, and mixed-use markets. Many of the firm’s accomplishments are documented through its multiple publication features and industry awards from the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) New York, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, AIA, USGBC, and ULI New York, to name a few.