Archive for December, 2006

North Castle Proposes New Residential Zoning Standards

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

The Town of North Castle is proposing legislation that will add several new residential development standards including,

“(1) floor area ratio (FAR) controls, (2) gross land coverage (impervious surface) limitations, (3) a maximum exterior wall height limit, (4) environmental subtractions and (5) minimum contiguous buildable area requirements.”

“The basic purposes of these new residential development standards include protecting community character…”

Read the complete text on the North Castle website.

Making Places in Chappaqua

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

On October 14 and November 2, 2006, the Town of New Castle hosted “Placemaking” workshops in order to document the community’s vision of how downtown Chappaqua might be improved. These workshops were facilitated by Project for Public Spaces, Inc.; a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities.

Click here to view the results from the Placemaking workshops, and to particpate by adding your own comments.

Pillows for Puppies

Monday, December 11th, 2006

In addition to creating the finest residential architecture in Westchester, one of Fivecat Studio’s missions is to make a difference in the lives of homeless cats and dogs. All of our family pets (five cats and a dog) are rescues and we do all we can to support the local animal rescue charities.

Every holiday season, Annmarie and the boys collect all our worn towels, pillows and blankets. Then they have a holiday party and invite all their friends to bring their unwanted linens to the house. They wrap it all up and put together a Christmas care package for the SPCA of Westchester. Its a simple way to make a difference and teach the young ones a valuable lesson on sharing and caring.

The following is a list of items that are needed at the SPCA:


  • Bleach
  • Pinesol/Comet
  • Sponges with Brillo Pad
  • Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
  • Paper Towels/Toilet Tissue/
  • 45-55 Gallon Construction Grade Garbage Bags
  • Brooms and mops
  • Alcohol and Peroxide
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Q-Tips & Cotton Swabs
  • Medical Supplies
  • Newspapers
  • Sheets, Towels and Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Electric Can Openers


  • Plastic Sheet Protectors/ Postage Stamps
  • Avery 5160 address labels
  • 3.5 Computer Floppy Disks
  • Printer Cartridge Color — hp inkjet #57
  • Printer Cartridge Black —- hp inkjet #56
  • File Folders
  • Paper
  • Post-it notes


  • Cat Litter
  • Cat Food (Dry & Canned)
  • Dog Biscuits and Treats
  • Peanut Butter & Kong’s
  • Dog brushes and combs
  • Dog shampoo (good quality)
  • Leashes and collars
  • Dog Toys – plastic kongs, nylabones, hard rubber balls and rope toys
  • Cat Toys – ping pong and golf balls, plastic film canisters and feather toys
  • Crates and Vari-Kennels (All sizes)
  • Bowls
  • Wild bird food


  • New or Used Suburban or other SUV vehicle
  • Stockade Fencing
  • Foliage – Perennials and Annuals
  • Small Hand Tools
  • Screen for slide projector
  • Easels for special events

Cash gifts and larger donations are welcome too. Click here to see how you may help make a difference.

Viking “Ultra-Premium” Oven

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Viking Range has introduced a new line of “Ultra-Premium Premiere” ovens. In addition to a full list of ultra-premium features, the Premieres come with an ultra-cool TimePiece clock.

Living Well in Westchester

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Eating dinner in our dining room with my wife and children. I think that might be my favorite part of our newly renovated house in Chappaqua.

We added a new second floor design studio for Annmarie and space for a new kitchen (temporary cabinets are serving us well while we again save our pennies for the kitchen of our dreams). We renovated the bathroom, converted the basement into a playroom for the kids and expanded the obsolete 6’x8’ dining room.

Our stucco cottage in the woods of Hardscrabble was built as a nine hundred square foot summer retreat for a Manhattan physician and his family. The New Castle building department dates the house to 1934. Used during summer weekends, the original house had a minimal kitchen and no need for a dining room.

Annmarie and I bought the house in the summer of 1997 from its second owner. For nine years we lived with the original kitchen and ate our meals on a card table set with a tablecloth in the corner of our living room. This situation was fine for a young newlywed couple, but became a bit crowded as our family slowly grew to eleven (two boys, two dogs and five cats).

In August of 2005 we moved out of the house and in with Annmarie’s parents. Today we are back in Chappaqua and almost finished with the project (except for the kitchen). A few doors need to be cased and we have plans to install paneling on the dining room walls within the next few weeks.

It is great to be home. Annmarie has a great place to work. The boys each have their own bedroom, and even though the kitchen is temporary, it works so much better than the original space (the 1934 kitchen was so small, we had to locate the refrigerator down a flight of stairs in the basement). The insulated walls and new windows are doing a great job of keeping us warm during cold December nights.

The warmth. The convenience. The architecture. Our stucco cottage in the woods is more than we ever imagined. We are very blessed. But more than any of that which I may see or touch, most of all, I love sitting down in our new dining room for a warm meal with Annmarie and my boys. For me, that’s what “Living Well in Westchester” is all about.

Be cool…quietly.

Friday, December 8th, 2006

UNICO systemLast week, John Whalen and I trekked into Manhattan from our Pleasantville studio to visit the Center for Architecture. AIA New York was hosting a continuing education seminar on Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV) heating and air conditioning systems.

SDHV systems have been around for years, but have had a bad reputation for being very noisy. The conditioned air is delivered into a space through small diameter ducts at about 2000 feet per minute. Conventional HVAC systems perform that same task at about 500 feet per minute. That concentrated high speed air, in older SDHV systems, had a habit of whistling an annoying tune.

The UNICO System has solved that problem at both ends of their small ducts. The air handling units are designed to isolate noise and vibration. In addition, their uniquely designed supply tubes are lined with sound-dampening, spun-bond nylon, providing quiet comfort.

In addition to being whisper quiet, other advantages to the system are:

John likes the system so much, he is planning to install it in the house he is building with his brothers in Montauk.

How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change the World?

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

The September issue of Fast Company magazine has a great article on compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

“…if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.”

Waterworks Introduces Upholstered Furniture

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Best known for high-end plumbing fixtures, Waterworks has introduced a new line of upholstered furniture.

In a recent press release, Kristen Knisley, Waterworks Public Relations Manager, writes,

“The new pieces, consisting of two unique design groups, display the intelligent use of high quality material and the finest craftsmanship, and are a welcome addition to the existing Legion and Sloane collections of bath furniture. Manufactured in the United States, each piece is solid mahogany or maple…”

“Drawing from the linear, modern forms of Campaign furniture of the mid-nineteenth century, the Legion collection embodies practicality, functionality and simplicity. The four pieces, including a relaxed chair, pitched back chaise, two person bench and an essential stool, are precisely engineered for suitability and comfort.”

“The Sloane collection incorporates restrained and disciplined design details that include generous scales of proportion. The tailored form of the leg and the graceful arc of the cushion lend a light, lively feel to chaise, chair, bench and stool. The Sloane design is sized for comfort within scale.”

“These new pieces can be upholstered by Waterworks in Waterworks for Kravet Soleil performance fabric, or ordered in a muslin fabric to allow for clients to custom upholster.”

Read the entire press release here.

New Castle F.A.R. Legislation

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

This is the draft legislation for the new Floor Area Ratio code.

Proposed F.A.R. Legislation – Draft 11/28/2006

New Castle Proposes Floor Area Ratio Legislation

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

In an attempt to limit the size of houses throughout the Town of New Castle, the town board is proposing legislation that would add Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) requirements to the town’s zoning code. This legislation will effect EVERY residential property in New Castle by restricting the total floor area of every proposed residential project; new homes, as well as additions.

Comments made at the 11/28 public hearing suggested that the proposed legislation may reduce the available buildable area in some districts by almost 50%.

How restrictive will the new F.A.R. code be? The board claims that the proposed legislation will leave most homes in compliance with the new code.

How will this legislation effect the value of homes in New Castle? How much of a home’s value is based on its expansion possibilities?

How will this legislation effect revenue for the town? Fewer improvements. Smaller homes. Fewer building permits. Will taxes need to be increased to compensate for reduced revenue growth?

The next public hearing is scheduled for December 12 at 8:00PM.