Season 2:

Episode 53

May 24, 2022

#53: Pioneering Sustainable Architecture | Tommy Craig of Hines & Rick Cook of COOKFOX

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Today, I’m joined by Tommy Craig, Senior Managing Director at Hines, and Rick Cook, Founding Partner at COOKFOX. Tommy and Rick are both pioneers of the sustainable architecture movement and have joined forces for the 555 Greenwich and 345 Hudson Street project. As it stands, they’re two existing buildings that form an entire block in the Hudson Square neighborhood of Manhattan. The goal for 555 Greenwich was to stitch the two buildings together, complete 345 Hudson Street, and face west out towards the Hudson River.

The combined buildings are 1.2 million square feet, and as you can imagine, designing that kind of space isn’t without its challenges. However, the team at COOKFOX has come up with a way to embrace those constraints and create a thermally active superstructure, the first of its kind in New York City. Rick describes the firm’s various efforts to make radical carbon changes and revamp this 100-year-old building to serve the community for the next 10+ decades.

We also discuss the importance of mentorship, how their own mentors have impacted their career development, and what they hope to pass on to the next generation of young architects at their respective firms. We touch on the current trends that are making buildings better for the planet and its occupants, and how to balance the quality and speed of construction. Listen in to hear more of our conversation about sustainable and modern living spaces.

About the Guests:

Tommy Craig is Senior Managing Director and the Co-Head of the New York office of Hines, as well as Head of the Boston office. Hines is an international developer, investor and manager of real estate with nearly 5,000 employees worldwide. He is on the board of the Urban Design Forum,  and the Phipps Houses, a non-profit affordable housing developer. Previously, he taught at Columbia Business School.

Rick Cook is a Founding Partner at COOKFOX, the New York City based design firm he started in 2003 with Bob Fox. Their work focuses on office, residential, interiors and cultural projects and how the natural environment can intertwine with the built environment. Prior to COOKFOX, he founded and ran his own firm, Richard Cook & Associates for 14 years.

Resources & Links:

[00:00:00] Atif Qadir: This is American Building, and I’m your host, Atif Qadir. I’m the CEO of REDIST, a technology company focused on innovative public financing for real estate projects. We are recording from the historic home of world renowned architect, Michael Graves, in Princeton, New Jersey. Check out this amazing space for yourself at the Michael Graves Architecture and Design YouTube channel. Now, let’s build something.

Our guests are developer, Tommy Craig and architect. Rick cook. Tommy is the senior managing director and the co-head of the New York office of Heinz, as well as the head of the Boston office, uh, Heinz as an international developer investor and manager of real estate with nearly 5,000 employees world.

The, he has been with the firm since 1982. And he is also on the board of the urban design forum and the Phipps houses, a nonprofit affordable housing. Previously he taught at Columbia business school. And in fact, uh, he was teaching there when I was a student, uh, at the business school. Uh, Tommy is a graduate of Columbia business school and the university of North Carolina go Tarheels.

Uh, so, uh, Rick is a founding partner at cook Fox, the New York city based design firm. He started in 2003 with Bob Fox. Their work focuses on office, residential interiors and cultural projects and to how the natural environment can intertwine with the built environment prior to cook Fox, he founded and ran his own firm.

Uh, Richard Cook and associates for 14 years, uh, for his work, he has received awards from the preservation league of New York, the Congress of new urbanism and the Boston society of architects. Rick is a graduate of Syracuse universe. We will be talking about the 5, 5, 5 Greenwich and 3 45 Hudson project in New York city, which Hudson square properties is developing.

That’s a joint venture of Trinity church wall street, Norges bank, investment bank, and Heinz. And that is a project that cook Fox is designing more broadly. We will talk about the beginnings of the modern building sustainability movement, but these guys who are the OGs of green. So thank you so much for being here with us, both Tommy and Rick.

It absolutely. So four years is the median tenure for workers in the United States. When I was last calculated by the U S government in contrast, uh, Tommy, you have been at your current role at Heinz for 40 years this year. And in fact, it’s the only job that you’ve ever had. Rick you have been running cook Fox for 19 years in previous interviews, you both have talked about the sense of purpose in your work as the grounding reason for staying where you are.

So I want to hear more about that. Let’s start with Rick.

[00:03:07] Rick Cook: Well, I think that feeling a sense of purpose in your work is incredibly important. There’s even emotional language around it. I was taught as a kid growing up. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. And I think that component of a passion and an emotional connection to the work, uh, mission-focused, purpose-driven focus in the work is incredibly important for a long time.

[00:03:34] Atif Qadir: So Gerald Heinz, uh, it was a founder of Heinz and Bob Fox is the other founder of cook Fox. And both are Titans of New York real estate. Um, I have an intuition that they strongly influenced both of you and the arcs of your careers, uh, Tommy, uh, you use the expression humble confidence to describe Gerald, for example, what impact did he have on your career development?

[00:04:02] Tommy Craig: Yeah. And you’re going to get a kick out of this, Rick and I will use different words to say the same thing. Um, you know, I think, uh, You know, as a developer, you know what I’ve come to understand about our work, particularly somebody like Rick is, you know, you and fuse. So ULI is part of the process, you know, of creating any project and, you know, but with leaving a little bit of yourself in the project, I think they would be very different.

And I don’t mean that to sound egotistical. We’re really they’re represent firms and our teams, and we’re just giving voice, you know, to all the papers project I worked on at 31 west 52nd street, um, which was, you know, one of two buildings we did in the early eighties. The other was the lipstick building both on 53rd street, Rick intersected with that project, with the American craft museum.

Um, and you know, Jerry was somebody that liked to think at the project level. But he was an incredibly kind person. Um, and I can’t tell you that kind of, and none of us are perfect. I’m certainly not. Um, but I do think that, you know, he said, you know, most of what Jerry said, I think resonated because of his understated style with the way he said it,

he pulled out the sliding rule. But when he was really intent on making a point,

as I said, Jerry was a mechanical engineer from Purdue. And even as desktop computing was becoming prevalent. If Jerry wanted to convey, um, a degree of certitude about a calculation, he would pull out a slide rule in front of our investors, you know, as a confirmatory gesture, Um, just to make a point that they were going to get an adequate yield on their investment and he did it with sincerity by the way.

[00:06:16] Atif Qadir: And then, uh, Rick for you, uh, Bob is a partner emeritus at cook Fox. Now, how often do you interact with him and what impact has he had on your personal growth? As an architect?

[00:06:32] Rick Cook: Uh, we stay in touch and still have a common interest on the things that green up, uh, our city and our country. So we stay in touch.

In fact, uh, he was my mentor, my first job out of school. He was my mentor taught, taught me how to think through doing a skyscraper. And then I founded my own firm and then 14 years later, Bob joined us. And I think what linked us is some of the things that are similar to the way that Tommy described Gerald Heinz.

Bob. And I both grew up in the Hudson river valley, but grew up on an apple farm, apple orchard and red hook and the Hudson river valley. And I grew up further up the road river valley, and there was a simplicity and honesty to the way people communicated there. We would openly talk about wisdom sayings.

Like it’s hard to coast up hill, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Um, uh, the harder you work, the luckier, you get these

[00:07:34] Atif Qadir: kind of twice,

[00:07:35] Rick Cook: once that went to, uh, and so there was this, uh, linkage about a way of thinking about. World and working hard and a kind of moral and ethical basis to the work. And then also a connection to nature.

Um, both of us had to live where we can see water, this idea that you wanted to be in a safe place and prospect out into the world. This is something we call the Savannah hypothesis under biophilic design. So this idea that you were, you felt better when you walked in the woods and you connected to nature and an ideal living environment.

So these things, these things bound us. But I think some of the similar things with, uh, with Gerald Heinz, Bob really cared about people and mentoring other people. It wasn’t all about him. And, uh, it made him a wonderful man. And set the path for how cook Fox would be set up.

[00:08:32] Atif Qadir: And so both of your firms are very large and very, very growing.

And tell me, you’ve used the term junior varsity and varsity team to describe the younger and the older staff at your company in a very collegial way. Uh, and essentially these are people, uh, from the junior varsity team that could take your position down the road. Uh, Tommy, how do you think then about choosing mentoring and growing younger staff at your affirm in the New York office?

[00:09:04] Tommy Craig: I mean, I think Rick and I, um, you know, I’ve been exposed to his younger staff. He’s been exposed to ours. I actually described them as my co-pilots. Um, and, um, you know, I’ve been really lucky. Cycle. Well, 14 years we’ve been really busy. You know, it we’ve had like four waves, different buildings since 2009, um, cycle, you know, I’ve been exposed to some really capable young people.

They often join Hines because they want to get beyond desktop real estate. You know, typically provide is the chance to synthesize physical and financial and architecture and building and they have, they develop a passion for it. So for me, I know that giving them that exposure did the sense of being a participant, certain extent they’re going to stay with Heinz because Heinz gives an unusual degree of autonomy.

But if you’re inside the process, it’s really about the people in this. And it’s such a joy.

[00:10:20] Atif Qadir: I think you’ve brought up a really good point, which is the reality that these large amazing buildings that Heinz works on is the result of people working together. And for me, when I spent my five years at Turner construction, what I enjoyed so much about that time, there was the people that I worked with.

And I would say the actual projects that started now fading into the background, given that it’s been like a good 10 years since my last project at Turner. Um, but it’s particularly the people that I’m friends with and I’m still I’m friends with, from, um, that work experience, uh, that I particularly enjoy.

Um, so for yourself, Rick, uh, you have a number of really, uh, young staff that have taken on really great leadership roles. Um, tell us about some of the folks at your firm that you’re really proud of.

[00:11:09] Rick Cook: Well, I think one of the interesting things about architecture is that it’s a collaborative. So the partner, somebody like myself has an obligation to lead.

That’s our, that’s our role, but even somebody, right, right out of school, who has a passion and is given enough responsibility and a reasonable amount of leadership can have an enormous impact. So I think every day I’m amazed by people who come in and really add something important to the collaborative process.

Um, right now, the firm’s bigger. We’re over a hundred people on there. Eight other partners besides myself. Um, Mo many of which have kind of been homegrown have come up through the studio. And I think that collaborative work environment really makes a difference. I think also similar to Hines, one of the reasons people come here is because it’s not a fee, it’s not pure theory.

We really do build buildings and there’s no substitute for learning that experience. The people that were involved in getting the buildings built. I say that architecture is the combination of both bricks and mortar and love and magic. And part of the love and magic I would say is composition in architecture.

But part of it is how do you get things done? How do you communicate with people? How do you connect and get a large collaborative effort rolling in the right.

[00:12:37] Atif Qadir: That’s an excellent point that you brought up. Uh, I want to move our focus to the, uh, the project, the amazing project that both of you are working on, uh, which is the, uh, 5, 5, 5 Greenwich and 3 45 Hudson street project.

So it’s located in the Hudson square neighborhood of Manhattan, which is also where my startup’s office is. Uh, so I know it well. Uh, Rick, uh, tell us about this area and more specifically about the site as it is.

[00:13:09] Rick Cook: Well, Hudson square is, is a fascinating neighborhood in that it’s kind of the far west side of Soho in some ways, it’s the upper part of the financial district, the lower part of Greenwich village, and it abuts the Hudson river.

So it has all of these attributes of vibrant neighborhoods immediately around. And in itself, historically over time it had been a meadow and a swamp, but most recently it was the printing district. So it’s made out of these big, powerful buildings with robust superstructure and powerful gritted facades.

And it just happened to also work remarkably well as the workplace of the future. And Hudson street was really the spine. And now what we’re seeing right now is the shift in focus from Hudson street as the spine moving west towards the Hudson river, the Hudson river park and the Hudson river. And part of that has to do with the buildings that are getting built along the waterfront and including the new Google headquarters.

Oxford and Google a building right on the waterfront. So we’re now seeing much more of a network of how all these buildings work together as a neighborhood, which makes every great neighborhood. The buildings are better altogether than in isolation.

[00:14:30] Atif Qadir: And then the particular site is incredibly unique because it’s two existing buildings that form an entire block.

Tell us a little about this. Well, the

[00:14:39] Rick Cook: site, uh, if we viewed the entire site, there was an empty lot on Greenwich street and existing building from the 1930s by Benjamin Winston was the architect big, powerful building with beautiful Hertz, gorgeous masonry facade that faced on Hudson street and kind of turned its back on the Hudson river.

So the goal for 5, 5, 5 Greenwich was really to complete 3, 4, 5, and to face west out towards the water. My favorite thing to say about this is our goal was to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. So how do these two buildings. Make one building that’s better than each one would be by themselves.

And much of it is about connectivity. We’re connecting 3, 4, 5, and 5, 5, 5, literally, but we’re also connecting Hudson street with the Hudson river by making this move and facing the building out to the west. So I think it’s a very important site for Hudson square. And I think just one more element, one more building block and making this vibrant neighborhood,

[00:15:48] Atif Qadir: uh, help us understand Tommy, the design prompt that you gave cook Fox at the beginning of this entire process.

[00:15:57] Tommy Craig: Sure. So we had been working on the project for about a year before we happily engaged Rick and his colleagues. And we got asked in 2018 after Trinity church completed their transaction with Dell. We had told them at the time we were selected, the most significant thing they could do for the neighborhood was to activate their five development sites.

And that would augment the value of the existing 11 buildings. And, um, once the Disney transaction occurred, they realized that there was real demand, you know, to continue the transformation of the neighborhood. Really, Rick and I both know all of this change dates back almost exactly 10 years to a zoning text change that permitted residential, Carl Weisbrod led that effort was shot, took about five neighborhoods, uh, uh, units right now they’re under construction.

So we looked at this for a year and what’s so fun about what somebody’s, you know, like Heinz stats or whatever. Is, we really did all of the feasibility analysis and we determined it was possible to do a building with an investment supposition that was consistent with what, with what Rick said, the three partners of the Hudson square venture, Trinity church, nor Jace and Heinz believed that rather than creating a new building adjacent to the existing 3 45 Hudson street, that we could do something that was a creative to the value of the existing building.

If we could connect it. So we had worked all this out and the two critical findings in our due diligence were that we could connect the floors one at a time, which meant that we did not have to vacate the 3 45 Hudson street. Unlike every other building that I’ve ever done that involved any kind of, you know, conjoining of a new and an, oh, we’re doing one Madison avenue, we did four 50 lacks.

Those overbuilds required that you terminate the leases of existing tenants achieve full possession. And that’s a very big economic decision to make, to suspend all the income in an existing building, particularly for a church like Trinity. So once we learned that we could connect the floors one at a time, we then believed, as Rick has said, many times that the 3 45 Hudson street would benefit if we extended it that much closer to the Hudson river, which is what we do by combining it with by five, five Greenwich with 3 45 Hudson.

Yeah, what Rick did. And of course I saw, we went through a competitive design process. Rick’s design, who’s faithful to what he just said. There were several other designs that really created object buildings as if the new building at 5, 5, 5, you know, existed, separate, and apart from 3 45, Hudson street had a different grid, had a different materiality.

Rick completely captured the essence of what we are trying to do with his design, which is to really not only connect the two buildings, but in some ways he’s got a very sophisticated design that connects 5, 5, 5 Greenwich to 3 45 Hudson street. But in very, a very modern. And we got really excited by that, but that’s all rip all the work we had done before.

That was really to look at Sony diagrams, you know, confirm the feasibility of the study. You know, it was Rick’s, you know, specific idea to create an architecture that was very sensitive to the context of 3 45 Hudson street. The transaction that active really is a catalyst for this. We studied the site for a year, did that actually with cancer, uh, two critical findings that we could combine the buildings without combining disowning locks.

And we could connect the floors one at a time, which meant that we did not have to suspend the existing leases or terminate them. This is what we’ve done on all the other building combinations we’ve ever done in New York rip. Came up with the very specific idea, as he just said, from a design perspective of creating at 5, 5, 5, a building that really completes 3 45 Hudson street brings it closer to the Hudson river and in place, it’s very sensitive to the context, you know, of not only the neighborhood, but that building.

So his material passing, you know that really, if you looked at the other responses, they were all other, they were object buildings. Rick was actually the only one that had the design insight. You know, really pursuing the basic idea of 5, 5, 5 Greenwich street as something that completed 3 45 Hudson street, but, but in a modern idiom,

[00:22:01] Atif Qadir: that’s so fascinating that metaphor, uh, stitching two buildings together.

Uh, so Rick tell us, once you received the direction from, uh, from, from Heinz and the, the ownership team, what is your process like as a design firm and responding to a design problem?

[00:22:19] Rick Cook: Well, in Manhattan, we almost always start with what’s called the Manhattan project, which is the documentation of what was Manhattan in 1609, the point of first European contact.

Pretty much every project we work on in this particular case, Trinity goes back that far and is. Really the legacy of those same Europeans first European contact. So what was this place? Why does it look the way that it does? Why do, why are the streets the way they are? What’s unique about this one place and we really fell in love with 3, 4, 5, 3 45 Hudson and its massing.

And for us, the goal was absolutely not to do a modern edition, an object building on the, on the opposite avenue, but to respect the existing building and then do a new building that clearly completes 3 45. So you could view these as one hold from block to block and at the same time be of its time of its place.

So it is a masonry building for the base, but the grid opens up and is lighter as you get towards the Hudson river with bigger views and bigger windows. And then it rises up. It sets back at very specific spots that relate to 3, 4, 5, and ultimately into a very glassy penthouse that takes advantage of the views.

But at the same time, feeling comfortable, feeling like it’s a completion, a modern completion of this beautiful, elegant building that was there. So for us, architecture is about having a clear idea and then executing it. Well, our clear idea was not to stick an object building on the end, but to complete this beautiful building.


[00:24:05] Atif Qadir: and then, uh, internally, do you work in a studio format or how, how does a project you should develop over the course of the.

Oh, sure. Uh, so within your firm, do you work in a studio format or do you have certain teams made for certain projects and then develop the designs with those teams?

[00:24:31] Rick Cook: Uh, we’re a classic architecture studio. We work in, uh, as a design studio, so everybody has a chance to roll up their sleeves, get the ideas out on the table.

Um, and then we like to create a team who follows all the way through from the very beginning stages, conceptually all the way through to what we call the construction documents, the shop drawing process, what we call construction administration, which is working with the contractors. And I think 5, 5, 5 is one of those success stories of getting early input.

We were able to accomplish things in carbon redox. And very elegant let’s call them green systems or carbon reduction systems that had to do with an excellent dialogue between the people building the building and the engineers who were thinking about the systems and the architects and the owners.

Everybody collaborated to come up with a hole that again was greater than the sum of the parts by using existing technologies, but in new and unique combinations so that we could accomplish the geothermal on the all electric building and the DOE as system and, and a massive breakthrough for this building is a thermally active superstructure.

The first of its kind in New York.

[00:25:49] Atif Qadir: Could you describe what you mean by a thermally active superstar?

[00:25:54] Rick Cook: Sure. Um, when I say thermally active superstructure, what happens when we build one of these buildings on this particular building is what we call a concrete superstructure building. So concrete columns and concrete slabs. There’s an enormous amount of mass, which we know conceptually can hold temperature.

Normally we heat the air or cool the air, and it’s a lot of work and the superstructure gets built to hold the building up. And it’s along for the ride after that. And we’ve all known for a long time that if you could use passive techniques, if you could make that mass generally warm in the winter in generally cool in the summer, if you had a way to do that, you.

Take care of a massive part of the base load and get, and then you could offset the peaks with traditional air conditioning and heating systems. We’ve really never been able to accomplish that, but in this particular case, because we’re attaching to another building and it was so important that we lined up the floors perfectly, that we made the decision to come back and do a topping slab.

So the topics lab gave us the opportunity to put a radiant system into it. So we could run cool water to make the superstructure cool or warm water, to make the superstructure warm and take care of that base load with then a thermally active superstructure. We’re using that mass. That’s normally it just sitting there, but we’re using it to take care of a base heating and cooling load.

[00:27:31] Atif Qadir: So I think

[00:27:33] Tommy Craig: that there. I was going to say what was interesting, I think to all of us involved in that process, um, the people that had been through it before we all somehow instinctively no constraints, often produce the best architecture. And in this case, it’s Rick said the constraint that we had is, you know, first of all, we want it to double the base spacing of the existing column grid from roughly nominal 20 to 40 feet.

That meant we had a 12 inch, you know, floor slab. And we had to come back and add a five inch, you know, topics that you never start with 17 inches of concrete, right? That’s the thermal mass that Rick spoke of and 3 45 Hudson street sits on, you know, timber, friction piles. We made a decision early on given the supposition of this as being the hundred year.

That we would have case on socketed the rock. And, um, we did that to be faithful, you know, to the investment supposition of Trinity and nauseous and Heinz as long-term owners. But what was really interesting is that that the project got started just as local on 97 was an and everybody embraced the idea of how do we really, you know, create something good out of the constraint of the 17 inch mass of concrete, you know, that really forms the basis of our floor slab, which is very unusual, right?

And, and we had a good team that really thought through all the engineering advantages, you know, of district, he threw water as a median, rather than air water just has so much more capacity to, you know, distribute energy storage. Then air, but it also relates to the fact that because we were aligning up the slab Heights, we only had 13, three new, a new building today that we would be doing might be more like 14 to 15 feet, but Vanderbilt varies from 14, six to 16.

So it also had the advantage. If you put the tubing in the slab of eliminating all that base duct work and the FPT use. So as we began to look into this, you know, the constraints of the building provided the solutions, you know, that all kind of came together in a pretty holistic way. And you know, Rick led that effort.

A gentleman on our side called Mike Izzo. Who’s now Heinz is global carbon Dodd-Frank John Cotter champion bay took about a year to really validate everything. And it only gets really valid. When you make trade awards and you realize that this is something you can do and you can afford as well.

[00:30:39] Atif Qadir: So Tommy help me understand.

So the ownership team included a Heinz journey church and largest bank. So in those early discussions about the priorities for the project, this direction towards sustainability in many different forms, um, were they on board or did it take some convincing and discussion? What were those internal conversations like?

[00:31:06] Tommy Craig: Um, Rick knows this, um, nor Jesus actually was extraordinarily helpful. Excellent. Rick will say about this is the system really has four components. It’s got really a thermally activated slab. It’s got a geothermal, which is a function of just the incremental cost of putting tubing into our case on, you know, um, shells.

It’s an all electric building and, um, it’s a thermally active slab. None of this by itself. None of those components are necessarily innovative. What’s innovative is the way we connect them all. And frankly, the Nordic countries have been looking at these kinds of systems and deploying them for decades.

So, so nauseous, you know, in particular really pointed the way to some of the signs. Behind some of these solutions. And so they, they were very much, you know, not passive, but active and leaders and Trinity really supported us the whole way through. And I know Rick will say the same thing. We all have an investment supposition about the hundred-year building.

And, um, once we sensed that there was, you know, an opportunity to do good and do well. I don’t think we ever really looked back.

[00:32:41] Rick Cook: I think there’s two things there. Um, about the ownership side that are important. One, the ownership team decided to proceed at what at the time was a very, very uncertain time in the market.

Middle of COVID.

[00:32:57] Atif Qadir: So 20, 20, 20,

[00:33:03] Rick Cook: when was the decision made to pursue. Could you say it again?

[00:33:10] Tommy Craig: Rick and I were both part of a session in August of 2012, six months after COVID where the board of Trinity and gorgeous reaffirmed the decision to proceed. It was a top of incredible uncertainty.

[00:33:35] Rick Cook: I think that. Uh, spirit of long-term vision on the ownership side is really not to be underestimated.

I think a short-term thinking developer might’ve put the project on hold at that time, but by proceeding, at that time, it allowed the collaboration to come together. It allowed trades to be awarded before what ultimately became a very rapid increase in costs that came along later. So that, that confidence to proceed at a very uncertain time made a big difference.

The other issue that Tommy mentioned is something called local law 97, which is a New York city’s local law to address carbon reduction. In some ways you can describe it as an absolute moonshot. Like how are we going to put a person on the moon, uh, in the next 10 years and return them to. Nobody knew how to do it then.

And frankly, nobody really knew how we were going to get New York city, uh, to the point of the aspirational goals of local on 97. In fact, much of the community, I would say most of the real estate community is still mostly focused in on fighting it and saying it’s too aggressive. It’s going to hamper our ability to provide the right kind of, of buildings in the future.

So here, Hines and Trinity, and Norges said. Let’s not meet the letter of the law. Let’s see if we can beat it and prove that we can do carbon reductions even beyond local law, 97. So that’s a very motivating thing for a team. And I think it’s not to be underestimated. How much people rallied around that idea.

How do we really fundamentally rethink doing a building in the area in the era of local law, 97, rather than spend precious energy, fighting it less, invest our energies in this new building and seeing where we can exceed it. And we were able to in part by the large cooperative effort, and one of the amazing home runs is that through that effort and talking about, uh, we’re talking about operational carbon now, when we’re talking about the reduction, but another issue that we haven’t spent as much time talking about New York and we will.

Much more is embodied carbon. So reusing an existing building, making an existing building. A workplace of the future is a radical carbon change compared to building a new building. So once we got there and the embodied carbon, uh, Mike Izzo and the team from Heinz, uh, really put together a plan for reducing the carbon at 3 45 as an existing building.

And, uh, they were just recently awarded the empire state, uh, challenge grant. Let me do that one again. Tell me what’s the right name of the empire state building


[00:36:38] Tommy Craig: building challenge grant.

[00:36:41] Rick Cook: Okay. So they were awarded the empire state building challenge grant to attack the carbon on the 3, 4, 5, and replace all the systems there.

And we’re working on that right now. So, so one thing has an impact on a next, um, and it really was leadership from ownership.

[00:36:59] Atif Qadir: That’s a really great point that you have. Do you mind if I pick

[00:37:02] Tommy Craig: up on some of what Rick said, because I think it’s really important. Um, you know, the very first idea was that 5, 5, 5 Greenwich would really be the culminating activity of our venture.

You know, in the first stage of formation, if you talk through really all the people that are involved at nor jus and at Heinz, they realize that this really fulfills the original mission that Heinz and nor jus weren’t just coming into acquire real estate. But we were really coming in to create a platform.

You know, to activate that real estate create a superior tenant experience. Now, why do I say all that? Because I think bricks on a really good point, you know, when you do one good thing, you just start down this path that they’re terrific and lead to other things. So one of the things that’s happening at 5, 5, 5 Greenwich, just think about this instead of circulating for stair and return air in a post COVID environment.

Right? Imagine the traditional system. Yeah. Right. Bingo. There, there you go. We’re creating ambient air temperatures, not by circulating return air that you breathe the air. I breathe, but by really circulating water and frankly changing the surface temperature of the slab above and the slab below, that’s a completely different.

Yeah. So not only are we all electric and we got a thermally activated slab, but we’re not relying on a forced air system. The second really big idea that Rick mentioned that really is more operative in other parts of the world. We’re doing a project in London. It’s all about embodied carbon. That’s not the focus in New York, thinking about what we’re doing by joining 5, 5, 5 to 3 45 Hudson street, we’re giving a hundred year old building a useful life for the next hundred years.

And we’re imparting value to it. Not only by connecting it to 5, 5, 5 Greenwich, but by all the work Rick and other people are doing to that building. That’s another case the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, and particularly in a post COVID environment, not all the commodity buildings in New York, you’re going to survive this.

I agree with that a hundred percent I’ve been around long enough.

[00:39:43] Atif Qadir: I think

[00:39:44] Tommy Craig: particularly the buildings that are,

[00:39:51] Atif Qadir: I think you bring up an excellent point, Tommy, particularly because of the 40 year tenure that you’ve added Heinz it’s the, the COVID economic turmoil, the global financial crisis, bubble. Then I’m guessing there was something in the nineties. Then the eighties, it was, uh, there is an oil and gas crisis in the late eighties or early seventies.

Uh, so there’s a, quite a, quite a number of things. I might’ve missed a one or two crises on the way, but I can definitely appreciate that the turmoil and the change that ensues in terms of asset classes, like office in New York, for example. And I think in particular, what I also appreciated in what, you know, there’s a little

[00:40:34] Tommy Craig: bit of an 80 20 rule.

This, you know what I’m saying? This is a bit of an 80 20 rule, about 20% Arctic to this. You know, I’m not quite sure with 500 million square feet of office space, you know, we don’t know what the new equilibrium is going to be. Um, but what we do know in a post COVID environment already, it’s interesting.

We know a few things, New York continues to be a destination for young people and companies will continue to come to New York, find that human capital. But we also know that, you know, frankly, the hybrid model is probably here to stay. And if you can’t offer something in the physical environment better than what you can accomplish at home, particularly in New York, given the length of our commute, you can’t really create the culture in the office.

It’s such a vital part of any company’s. Whether it’s for mentoring, whether it’s for competitive success training, that’s why we believe so deeply. And with conviction about what you know is being created at this asset.

[00:41:50] Atif Qadir: This is really, uh, what this conversation reminded me reminds me of is the one that I had on the show with Maryanne Gilmartin, uh, about six months ago.

And she talks about, uh, in terms of the way that you talked about the, the forthright and forward-thinking of your investment partners, uh, for her was her discussion in the summer of 2020 with a soften nod about the, uh, decision to continue on their, uh, major residential project on west 28th street. And I think for her, she also recalled the, uh, her vast experience at, um, at a four city.

And in terms of her outlook for office as well, uh, changes of foot that’s, that’s definitely for sure. Uh, and, uh, so Tommy tell us, so our listeners have a gauge of this, this very large project. Talk to us about the numbers of this. Uh, somebody will ask great for that question. Uh, so, uh, Rick help our listeners understand, uh, this project by the numbers.

So for example, like square footage, number of floors, all the ways that developers usually talk about a project. Thank

[00:42:56] Tommy Craig: you guys. I’m going to have

[00:42:57] Rick Cook: to turn it back over to Tommy because he has the, he has the hard data with them. I don’t have my cheat sheet with me all.

[00:43:05] Tommy Craig: I’ll

[00:43:05] Atif Qadir: say that question against, uh I’ll um, I’ll, I’ll say that question.

Uh, so, uh, Tommy help our listeners understand, uh, the, the project by the numbers. So what are the total number of floors, the square footage, and other way, you know, the, the normal ways that developers talk about.

[00:43:25] Tommy Craig: So 5, 5, 5 Greenwich street is roughly 270,000 square feet. 3 45. Hudson street is a little more it’s 930,000 square feet.

So the combined buildings are 1.2 million square feet. Um, we will be able to connect, you know, from floors four through 16, across from 3 45 Hudson street to 5, 5, 5 Greenwich street in the fullness of time. What can I, and the team described as the Rosetta stone is really the throttle given the existing.

At 3 45, it really represents for us, we can connect day one versus in the future. What makes this project so unusual is we’re not leasing 5, 5, 5 brand new street, the way every other building in New York city that I’ve ever done is leased, which is from the bottom to the top, right? There’s the vertical paradigm here.

The paradigm is horizontal and there’s a multiplicity of ways. Tenants can achieve their occupancy footprint in the combined building. For instance, they can buy all of 5, 5, 5 granite to boutique office building. They can connect across the upper floors, um, 16 and 17, and the overbuild Rick is doing at 3 45 Hudson street on the 18th floor, and really just have floors at the very top of both bills.

And so this is a really unusual, you know, um, occupancy opportunity. And so I would say by the numbers, the numbers today are we have Google at over 300,000 square feet in the existing building. We’re looking really for a second major tenant of about the same size occupied, either laterally, horizontally, or vertically project.

We’ll have floors available for tenant construction in October of this year. And when you want to kind of think about the value of the asset on a combined basis, you’re talking about roughly $1.5 billion of real estate. If I hope all of that helps when you think about metrics, um, absolutely. You know, and it’s very thing here we are.

I know as Heinz, I feel like we’ve gone from, you know, projects that were one of a tie, you know, one at a time project, seven Bryant park, 31 west, the lipstick building, you know, it seems like what we’ve been doing lately are more super scale projects. When Madison avenue one Vanderbilt to Trinity portfolio, that’s almost $10 billion of real estate right there.

What, what, what I think is happening is, you know, at a testing moment, like the one we’re in now, the thing that matters most, this isn’t really just location, you know, but do you really have sponsorship? You know, that can work with users, you know, in a way that reflects the agility needs. To accomplish their needs at a moment when they have a little bit of uncertainty about the relationship between jobs and space, I’d like to think our partner Trinity is very adept at that.

And if you combine it with expertise like that, a bricks, I think it gives you a chance to win in an environment. Will there be more losers than one.

[00:47:26] Atif Qadir: That’s an excellent, excellent point on me. Um, I am going to pause here to let our listeners know about the sponsors of the American building podcast. We just is a technology enabled company, intelligently connecting real estate developers with the a hundred billion dollars of public financing given out every year.

And the U S the company collects curates and leverages data, combining it with the expertise of its in-house team of real estate industry veterans, we recently were selected by the New York city economic development corporation for its founder. Through this relationship, Redis will deepen its value proposition for the small to medium sized developers that it serves in New York and beyond.

Find out Michael Graves, architecture and design is a full service architecture firm based in New Jersey, founded by iconic architect, Michael Graves. Uh, it has grown to do work across regions across asset classes and across project sizes. That includes everything from the handsome watch I’m wearing right now to David Burke’s newest restaurant to the Latrelle is stunning boutique hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Learn more about the firm and how it can So Tommy, the history of Heinz stretches back to 1957. Um, and that was before the 1970s, when oil price volatilities spurred a significant amount of research and development activity related to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, um, help our listeners understand what were some of the earliest ways and the earliest projects that Heinz experimented with greener ways of building.

[00:49:17] Tommy Craig: Well, I want to be clear. Um, I joined Heinz in 1982 and it is interesting. So

[00:49:25] Atif Qadir: a little bit after all of that,

[00:49:28] Tommy Craig: I might join the firm. A lot of the energy management was about computer-based energy modeling and frankly, various coatings on glass. Rick or member 31 west 52nd street. And, um, I did a project with Swiss bank and Stanford, and those buildings really achieved energy efficiency, but trying to minimize solar heat gain, you know, it led to a specific kind of architecture.

Um, I don’t want to, it was at the time, you know, I think, you know, considered, you know, Heinz had a mindfulness about all of this, you know, I, I know the electricity that they use. Say that again. And so one of the things Mike is though, as in the central plant and out in the distribution on the floors. And so I think we have evolved, you know, and I, you know, like Rick, you know, at five 50 Washington, we’ve looked at thermal wall construction in New York, Um, we did that for one of our projects, a residential project we’re using triple playing gas, uh, glass at MoMA.

So we’ve looked at lots of different systems, but you know, we’ve never really had an architect and an eight year in sponsorship, you know, in a way that allowed us to push the envelope, you know, as we’ve done here. And it’s interesting, you know, we’ve chosen rec for another project or residential project, you know, on the Hudson river.

And I think we both know all of this is case by case. You know, you get one chance at each of these buildings and, um, you get the chance through the frankly, you know, role of your personality, perhaps your expertise to try to make a difference. And. We’re living through a transition that I have no doubt on the other side of this, you know, our buildings are going to be significantly, you know, more mindful about not wasting so much energy, um, that they are today, but it takes time.

You know, the building industry is not known, you know, has not been known to be at the leading edge of technology. Uh, w we’re at a moment that may change off, it’s going be, you know, people like Rick engineer’s, psych JB, and B, you know, hopefully from cytokines that have it in their DNA to do that. Heinz is really committed, you know, as an entity and an enterprise to a statement, you know, that involves commitments for the reduction of both operational carbon antibodies.

[00:52:34] Atif Qadir: I think that’s a, those are excellent points in a really interesting perspective, uh, that you bring Tommy. And I think what I find really exciting about the rapid growth of venture capital investment in our industry, which is the largest industry in the United States, the largest contributor to the GDP and the largest employer in the United States, is this a shift towards venture money, into design and construction that part of our industry and into financing that part of our industry, when I think part one was about co-living and co-sharing and shared economy, which I think was all the low hanging fruit of innovation.

Now we’re talking the real meat and potatoes, which I think is going to help drive a home. A lot of the other changes that you’ve been talking about in the, in the context of, uh, this project. So, uh, Rick, uh, between Lee. Us S GBC ESG. Well, the progression of green building in America can be traced through a series of acronyms, help our listeners to take a step back from all of that and understand, um, what is the purpose of green building in your mind and your firm’s perspective?

[00:53:49] Rick Cook: Okay. Well, I think we all started out talking about climate change, extreme weather, carbon loading, human induced, carbon, and everything w originally was about carbon reduction and therefore energy reduction. That’s how the entire green building movement started more insulation higher-performing glass.

As Tommy talked about, how do we reduce the energy consumption and therefore the carpenter. That’s how we started. What I say often is that while doing that, we stumbled into the fact that while we’re trying to make buildings better for the planet, we figured out how to make buildings better for people quantifiably better for people.

And some of them cost a little bit more energy. So we started to look into a filtered fresh air, for example, and the impact that has on human health and productivity access to daylight. Uh, the Europeans really led on this. It was surprising for the Americans to kind of stumble into the quality of the workplace and human health and wellness.

And that brought us right into productivity, human productivity, and the pay dirt is recruitment and retention of talent. It, the started to define. The quality of the workplace. You could say that this is quantifiably better. So how do we do that? People always want to sell you things. And there’s a lot of talk about greenwashing, but far and away.

The us green building councils, lead rating system leadership and energy and environmental design. Um, as far in a way, the clearing house, the best source, it was actually generated by hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, not a trade organization, volunteer hours in the green building movement. So lead became really important and it also started out about energy, but we did touch on human health and wellness.

As that happened, we found. People were very interested in how you can make buildings better for people also. And that became the international well building Institute constructed something called the well standard. So the space I’m in right now is both lead platinum and well platinum. And beyond that, we started talking about things like connecting with nature and being an in-sync with the systems of nature.

And we started talking about living building challenge as another, as another, uh, place. That’s something that would balance its water and its energy connect with nature, incorporate principles of biophilic design. And so we started to talk about how to build. Mimic nature, a field of thought called biomimicry.

And how do we connect people with nature? A field of design that we call biophilia, biophilic design, love of living systems and how do we work in sync? And then when we’re done with all of that, everything we’re working on, we’ve come full circle now. To really focusing in on carbon and climate change and extreme weather.

And it’s not so much about the money or even the weather, but the critical components of human equity on earth. The first world has been the glutton at the family Thanksgiving table. The first world consumes seven times the global average of resources and produces seven times the CO2 and seven times the waste as our global brothers and sisters on average.

So how do you create a better standard and extreme weather is going to other than, you know, places like the Hamptons, where the rich live on the coast, the poor live in low lying areas typically globally. So our. Most economically challenged brothers and sisters all around the planet are the ones who are going to be the most dramatically impacted by extreme weather and sea level rise.

So we’ve now come around to this carbon issue with much more richness to it about human beings, what we call good, how we define quality and part of how we define quality is now coming around to the investment community that you mentioned. And when I started in this world, the number one question that we got asked, how much more is is green stuff going to cost us and how do we get, how am I going to get my money back?

I don’t even pay for the energy. I’ve passed that onto the tenants. Why would I care? That was the first set of questions. Now the equity investors come to the table and say, tell us about how this is going to help us accomplish our ESG. And it was on the thank you for asking and that’s really open it up.

As you mentioned earlier out of. The financing instruments and real estate are something that architects often don’t think that much about. You know, we think about our own art, but it’s all funded somehow. And now we have the ally of, in the investment community who are asking, how is this work helping us accomplish our ESG goals and that’s environment and social governance.

And so now we’re back to equity. Equity in the, in the workplace equity and investing and environmental sustainability all coming together. So I think all of these acronyms have come around to a really important one, which is ESG in the investment community.

[00:59:51] Atif Qadir: I think that the, the way that you’re able to describe all of those very current, very critical issues that are in the public forum, uh, is so, so interesting.

Cause it’s very much in sync with a conversation I had recently with Henry Cisneros, who was the, uh, us HUD secretary under bill Clinton. And he had mentioned that it’s not about the volume of money that you throw at the solution. It’s actually being able to structure, uh, pathways for that money to be used effectively and for good reason.

So we were talking in the context of, uh, the bipartisan infrastructure bill and, uh, the, the reconciliation budget, which will likely get passed after this November elections, um, both have a significant amount of money, uh, Uh, energy efficiency in infrastructure, and then around housing in the case of budget reconciliation, the ability to actually execute that money and put it in the right hands and the right places to accomplish these goals is going to be really critical as the second part of that, of that, that solution, that issue.

Um, so Tommy question for you is, uh, we were just talking about the evolution of, um, of the terms and the way that, uh, that conversation happened around energy efficiency. So help us understand in the board room at Heinz, what do people talk about? Because I think I have a feeling old school, what it was is the way that Rick just described, uh, how much more money do I have to pay and am I going to get any more rent?

What are the ways that the conversations happen around or energy efficiency in the hind sport room?

[01:01:26] Tommy Craig: You know, it’s, that’s a great question by the way. And I’m sorry, you know, I ran out of power, um, and I apologize. It’s been so hard for

[01:01:39] Atif Qadir: you pulled the Maryanne Gilmartin. She did that too.

[01:01:42] Tommy Craig: When I ran out of power, you got to hear a lot of what Rick had to say.

Um, which is a good thing. You know, Heidi is going through a really big transition. We’re going to a third generation of leadership, you know, for a company that’s always been focused on quality lines, right. You know, there’s now also a focus on scale. We’ve got about 5,000 people to put this in perspective.

I joined the firm, there were 300 people. We’re sole proprietorship. We’re raising about three times the amount of capital we did just three years ago. Right. And the family thankfully is still committed to being a private company. Which is really important because many of us believe that the nature of real estate development investing does not lend itself to a public format.

Um, real estate is hardly a business that can be captured with quarterly earning predict, you know, projections. Um, although many of our partners and, um, other clients, you know, are in a public format and they’ve done quite well with it. But I think for our culture, you know, long-term thinking lends itself to a private format.

A lot of our young people I think, are really interested to take advantage of the sector diversification. That is occurred within our firm. And by that, I mean, we’re active in every form of living. We’re doing a for-sale condominium project with Rick on the Hudson river. We’ve got two multifamily buildings that are both being completed this year.

Our first two in the New York office to senior living projects in New York city, we’re starting our first industrial building and Northeast Pennsylvania is about three main square feet. It’s a big project. It’s a $250 million project. So what excites them is about doing work in our firm that is matched to the new account.

W, whether it’s on the supply side and logistics, whether it’s, you know, last mile distribution, Oak distribution, or the transition in different living, you know, we’re engineering, new living formats in our suburbs. You know, I like, you know, Rick has also lived out in the suburbs, so, well, maybe I’m not supposed to out him for that, but, but he and I did not.

[01:04:19] Atif Qadir: Where do you live, Rick? We know you live in the Hudson valley.

[01:04:25] Rick Cook: I live with them. I live in a beautiful community called Sneden’s landing,

[01:04:31] Tommy Craig: Northeastern sleepy hollow, New York with us on this incredible waterfront parcel. It’s important. It’s part of a master plan. It’s near transit. It’s on the river, it’s got open space.

It’s a new lifestyle opportunity for people that want something different and better than a single family home, whether they’re coming from Brooklyn or selling their home in New Jersey. I think our young people really excited to think about real estate solutions for the new economy. You know, we’re now talking to a major medical service provider, you know, for one of our buildings that would actually provide as amenity as an amenity for tenants in the building, you know, um, the kind of healthcare that you normally have to travel for.

How great would that. Right. Think about that, you know, in the building, you know, every type of a full service health care offering. So instead of being in a central location, you know, it’s really coming to where the users are. I think that kind of stuff really excites our younger people. Um, and I know they’re going to be really great at it.

So Heinz at this moment in time is really focused on making sure. And we’ve been at this for about 10, 12 years now. Um, th that we’re building the kind of real estate that’s appropriate to the moment, and it may not necessarily be there be as many, 5, 5, 5 Greenwich buildings, probably. That’s what makes it so special by the way.

Yeah. I, I read this morning about. The commitment by New York state to all the new buildings at Penn station and how likely it is. Those buildings will be. That’s a pretty debatable proposition, right? When you have 20% vacant,

[01:06:40] Atif Qadir: that’s a major project. I understand being undertaken by Vornado and several other developers in the vicinity of Penn station.

Um, and that, that is a really interesting sweep of past. And then looking forward in terms of the corporate perspective, uh, and in terms of innovation, um, in past interviews, Rick you’ve said, uh, that you might as well look at. The past hundreds of thousands, millions of years of evolution to see problems as they were identified and solved and not imagine that every problem that we have today can be solved in the next three days.

So, given the urgency of many of these, uh, issues that, uh, yourself and Tommy I’ve talked about in this interview, how do you see then the way to evolve, how, how we’re building to go faster and faster and faster?

[01:07:39] Rick Cook: Hmm. Well, I think quality transcends the issue of speed. It’s a personal belief. Um, uh, I was trained in PR for part of my education and Florence, Italy, and, uh, I hadn’t been back, uh, with my wife in 40 years and I just went back and realized the Constance.

Of quality sun elevation change, spatial definition. These are things that are really constant that make for great places to be. So I think in our. In our quest for speed, there are things that are true about as human beings. We require a certain conditions for us to feel comfortable. And I think that we need to never forget those.

On the other hand, nature has been making ceramics on the bottom of the ocean at C-level temperature, super high quality ceramics from available proteins, and we use massive heat and energy to do the exact same thing. So I also think that as we look to our technological breakthroughs, uh, evolution, as, as they say for 3.8 billion years, 3.8 billion years of evolution, I’ve taught us how to do a lot of things.

So I think looking back to see. To find ways to solve the significant problems that we face in the future is still out there. I think I do think that, um, there are some things about technology that will make life more equitable. The fact that we now all walk around with all knowledge and our. And our hand, um, it has been a major breakthrough in my, and my life.

I used to be one of those people who love to remember facts and things. And now anybody can check me while sitting in the room and check with this also allows, uh, allows us a certain degree of, of equity in our workplace, even, even the COVID world or people we’re all the same size across the bottom of a screen, added a certain amount of equity into the workplace.

I, uh, we’re doing a project with Heinz and Minneapolis and, uh, Steve was just a little one by two inch square of the same size as everybody else. But when you walk into a conference room with a guy named Steve Lipman, he’s like six foot seven. And I, we had, we had actually designed a project with them and you know, that commanding presence in a room where even the, the youngest junior person was the same size screen.

Um, the grid. So I do think that technology is helping us advance something that’s been very important and very lagging, which is equity in the workplace, uh, that it’s a much more open and inclusive environment. And I believe that technologies has been doing that. And I believe that we can continue to fine tune.

There’s absolutely no reason. Now that on your way into work, that building doesn’t know you’re coming, turn your, your temperature up to the way that you like it. Get your computer open. These technologies exist. It’s really about uptake of the technology. Right now. It’s easier to buy a new iPhone than it is to buy a new building.

[01:10:56] Atif Qadir: That’s an excellent point. And on that note, thank you so much for joining us today on the American building podcast at Tommy and Rick and listeners. If you want to hear. Oh, sorry, I didn’t put timing lab or start over again. Let me start over and I’ll give a big pause there. So thanks so much for joining us today on the American building podcast, both Tommy and Rick.

[01:11:26] Rick Cook: That if I really

[01:11:27] Atif Qadir: enjoyed it. Thank you. Thank you. And listeners, if you want to hear the behind the scenes stories of how iconic buildings in our country were designed and built subscribe to this podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google, anchor, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen, uh, rate and review us on iTunes, help us reach a wider audience and follow us on Instagram.

At American building podcast, we all know real estate is a tough industry to make it. So how can professionals stand out and make a name for themselves in today’s? Hear from me, the team at Michael Graves and Redis, and many of our spectacular guests like Rick and Tommy on what we did to make it where we are, grab our exclusive guide seven tips on how to stand out.

Near-field at American building I know we relive in the richest country in the history of humankind. We must reach out beyond the boundaries that we see and the boundaries that we create in order to help build homes and communities today, Tommy, Rick and I have made donations to design for freedom by grace farms, which is working to eradicate forced labor in the modern building materials, supply chain.

I encourage you our listeners to support their worthwhile work as well. My name is Optiv Codder, and this has been American building.

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