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TRD analysis shows which firms dominated in a difficult yearIn the early weeks of 2020, architect Jonathan Marvel saw a steady stream of multifamily and public works jobs come across his desk.
â€śAnd then everything came to a screeching halt,â€ť he said.
Marvelâ€™s eponymous firm wasnâ€™t alone. Design work dried up during the height of the pandemic as many construction sites shut down and financing became scarce.
Still, once construction work was permitted to resume in New York, many firms saw business pick back up. The Real Deal compiled a list of the most active architecture firms of 2020, based on the square footage of ground-up projects.
For the purposes of this ranking, TRD went by the architect of record listed on new building permit applications filed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 4 with the cityâ€™s Department of Buildings. The list includes several firms that have repeatedly ranked among the most active companies over the last several years, although a few newcomers also cracked the top 10 this year.
1. Marvel | 11 projects | 2.1 million square feet
Marvel, which didnâ€™t make last yearâ€™s list but ranked third in 2018, saw activity pick back up in the second and third quarters.
â€śOur steady, long-term clients stuck with us, and Iâ€™m very grateful for that,â€ť Jonathan Marvel said. â€śI think thereâ€™s a glimmer of light coming across for 2021.â€ť
The firm recently rebranded as Marvel â€” no â€śArchitectsâ€ť â€” to underscore that its work goes beyond building design and other disciplines, including landscape architecture and urban planning.
In May, the firm filed a permit application for the third phase of Rockaway Village, a residential complex in Far Rockaway. The latest 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 Marvelâ€™s largest new building filing of the year.
Itâ€™s expected to break ground in early January. The five-phase project, which will ultimately include 1,700 affordable apartments, is being developed by Phipps Houses.
Like Marvel, Dattner also didnâ€™t rank among the top companies last year, but came in seventh in 2018.
â€śWe feel like we were really lucky that we came into the pandemic with a healthy backlog,â€ť said Kirsten Sibilia, the firmâ€™s managing principal. â€śThe schedule on projects has changed in many cases. Projects have slowed down, but there is a shared commitment to deliver the affordable housing that is needed.â€ť
Much of Dattnerâ€™s portfolio consists of affordable housing projects throughout the city. Its largest new filing this year was for a 585,000-square-foot residential tower at 700 Atlantic Avenue in Prospect Heights. The building, which is being developed by Greenland Forest City Partners, is expected to include nearly 700 apartments and more than 4,300 square feet of commercial space. Itâ€™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. Hill West Architects | 6 projects | 1.1 million square feet
Just as last year, Hill West was the architect of record on six new development projects that collectively spanned just over 1 million square feet. This year, however, the firm jumped up three spots compared to 2019, when it ranked sixth.
In October, a permit application was filed for a 566,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 355 Exterior Street in Mott Haven, in the Bronx. The project, which is Hill Westâ€™s largest ground-up project this year, will have more than 555,000 square feet of residential space and more than 10,000 square feet set aside for commercial use.
In 2018, SLCE was the cityâ€™s most active architecture firm in terms of new development. Last year, the firm dropped down to fourth place, a position it held this year.
SLCEâ€™s largest project this year was a 47-story mixed-use tower planned for 98 DeKalb Avenue, on the border of Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene. The development is expected to span a little more than 418,000 square feet with 609 apartments and retail on the first floor.