Architect Thomas Paino has taken the ongoing criticism of his “ugly” Long Island City row house and turned it into an opportunity for open dialogue about the importance of sustainable architecture. After the architect decided to renovate his three-story Climate Change Row House in order to increase its energy efficiency and resilience against severe weather, he immediately received an onslaught of harsh reviews about the building’s, um, interesting new facade. What do you think about the design? Tell us in the comments below.
After 2012’s Hurricane Sandy wreaked major havoc along the East Coast, Paino began sustainable renovations on his Long Island City home. Along with a number of passive home features, the renovation included the arduous task of raising the building three feet above the flood plane in order to protect the building from potential inundations. But doing so, explained the architect, made it impossible to line the home up with the facades of the neighboring brick-clad houses.
Since harmony with the other homes was not an option, the architect was inspired to take the exterior design in a more avant-garde direction, covering the entire facade with multi-colored glass tiles meant to mimic a cloudy sky. Of course, the tiles are made from recycled glass, in line with the residence’s sustainable makeover. However, the eye-catching “camouflaged lego” facade seems to have severely blinded even the most eco-conscious of neighbors and design critics, with the website Curbed dubbing the home the “Ugliest House in Queens”.
The architect fought back at critics saying, “I don’t really care what people say, so long as they’re talking about the house and the environment. That’s the whole idea.” In a recent New York Times interview, Paino reiterated the important role architects play in terms of creating energy-efficient and resilient structures. “Architects are on the front lines because buildings are supposed to last 50, 100 years, and they’re huge consumers of energy,” he said. “There’s no more time to waste.”
Despite the home’s curious aesthetic on the outside, it would be difficult for anyone to deny that Paino’s Climate Change Row House is a passive design powerhouse. Apart from lifting the home three feet above the flood plane, the six-figure green renovation on the home included installing heavy insulation and sealing to prevent heating and cooling loss. An intricate ventilation system also regulates temperature control. Additionally, the house has a variety of sustainable features, such as a green roof, a solar-powered water heater and LED lighting throughout the home.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda