Friday, May 24, 2013

Remembrance and Prayers for Our Troops. Let's Honor our Heroes this Memorial Day!

Over this long weekend, it can be easy to forget the intent of this holiday; it is for remembrance of those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed forces. Throughout the country, memorials have been built to honor those who served in various wars and act as reminders for their sacrifice.

As architects, when we are presented with the opportunity to design one of these great memorials, we aren't designing for our client; we are designing for those who we are remembering. This dynamic creates an opportunity for storytelling and embracing our pasts so that these memorials may speak to future generations about a moment in time.

A great example of designing a memorial is Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This project is made of two walls that are sunk into the ground with the earth behind them. The walls meet at the highest point of 10' which is actually below ground. The walls are etched with the names of the soldiers based on when they died and not alphabetically. At the climax is when the largest amount of people died. This tells the story of the war and organizes the names so that visitors experience the magnitude of the war. The finish of the wall is highly reflective to bring the past and the present together. The walls are oriented to point towards the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

One project T.M. Rybak and Associates, P.C. is very proud of is the New Jersey Korean War Veterans Memorial we submitted to Atlantic City as part of a design competition, which we were selected as one of 6 finalists. For this memorial, site strategy and pedestrian circulation played an important role in its development. Our proposal was simple; it composed of a curved concrete way, intersected by two glass panels. This wall drew the public in from the board walk as it tapered up towards the sky. Displayed on the wall were the 800+ New Jersey Veterans that gave their lives for us. The two glass panels housed a kiosk used as an automated information center for locating veterans who served in the conflict. The outside of the glass panels were etched with articles from the NJ papers depicting significant events of the war.

Take this opportunity over the weekend to visit your a memorial near you and remember those who served our country!

Friday, April 26, 2013


            How architecture has changed throughout the years could have not been any more obvious with simply addressing the history of our firm, TMR Associates. The firm launched its first projects in 1987 and has been ever so involved in designing, construction, and management. Coincidently, the building of the year at the time of the opening of the firm was announced as the ARAB World Institute Building by Jean Nouvel.  

             The building was situated in a difficult site withnumerous restrictions. However, the result was successful in engaging the building with the surrounding community. An interesting shading system involving a 'living' curtain wall system was also successfully utilized. The pattern work of the fa├žade included a strong relation to the traditional Arabic screen systems used throughout. Thus the technological advances surpassed the expectations for the time period.
            Furthermore, the architecture that we are experiencing present day also has many considerable feats. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai was designed and engineering by SOM architects. The skyscraper soars in the developing Dubai cityscape and at 828m the structure is far superior in height then any of its competition. The Burj Khalifa shattered dozens upon dozens of records including, longest vertical plumbing, highest restaurant/nightclub, and far more floors then the current holder. This fine example of architecture and engineering collaboration allowed the building to be erected in unthinkable timing of only a few years.

            Whether it be 26 years ago or now, the architecture that is being developed is astonishing. The limitless designs that architects are able to grasp on to and perfect, reveal that there are further surprises awaiting us in the future. Architecture is everlasting and it is only a matter of time as to when the next notable feat is uncovered. 

Guidelines for Construction Permits Associated with the Repair of Storm Damaged Single-Family Homes

Hurricane Sandy Repairs shall have certain permit fee waivers. Construction permits will not be required when the repair work includes only cosmetic  work, such as roof shingle repair or replacement, flashing repair or replacement, siding,  gutter repair or replacement, window repair or replacement and any other exterior or  interior non-structural repairs, including the repair or replacement of plaster or gypsum board walls or ceilings, bathroom tiles, etc.

All repairs that require structural work require permits, including the repair or replacement of the following:
  • Roof rafters
  • Roof ridge beams
  • Structural window headers
  • Interior doorway headers
  • Ceiling and floor beams
  • Main girders
  • Exterior wall framing
  • Interior bearing walls
  • Foundation walls
  • Chimneys
  • Retaining walls
  • Accessory structures, such as detached garages or sheds
If you have any questions regarding your projects, feel free to contact us. 201-460-0473 X 311 


      Due to super storm Sandy devastating much of the Northeast in 2012, many organizations have sprung to raise awareness and preparedness in wake of additional future storms of equal or greater magnitude. Studies have been ongoing to determine the well being of those residing on the coastlines. Whether it will be safe to live on the Jersey shore in the next 20 years will be uncertain. However, with these ongoing studies, the awareness of the residents will factor into determining how to be more understanding of the climate and weather patterns to withstand growing natural threats.
     Thus, one of these organizations has devised a series of studies portraying the imminent threat that nature has. NOAA Coastal Services has produced numerous amounts of information about the natural occurrences that may affect the Coastal areas in the future. With the help of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve as well as the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis of Rutgers University, NOAA can spread this awareness throughout the population, enabling the Northeast to be more prepared towards future threats.

The image portrays the  detailed look onto the flood  prone areas in the near future,  using the NJ FLOOD MAPPER tool
The image portrays the detailed look onto the flood prone areas in the near future, using the NJ FLOOD MAPPER tool
     The NJ Flood Mapper provides user-friendly maps that show these studies in a diagrammatic sense. The reason for this organization having to hurriedly provide this information to the public, concerns the rise of the sea level. This rise on the coast line has become apparent and is one of the clear reasons to the extensive amount of damage that the super storm Sandy has brought to the Northeast. Two main identified causes of the gradual rise in sea level have been noted. One, the rise in temperatures causes water to expand. Second, is the melting away of the ice caps causes the rise of the sea level to become continual. As the sea level continues to rise, the Northeast becomes ever more so vulnerable. The Jersey Shore will have to strengthen its dunes since the rise of the sea level will be eating away at the old dunes. The apparent rise in temperatures causes an intensity and precipitation rise during storms. With this information, Rutgers University composed the NJ Flood Mapper to allow communities to begin planning for the future. The local level must become involved to begin preparing numerous documents that deal such super storms. As a result, the cost of damages can be minimized and the safety of the residents may be ensured. 
 Information concerning the social effects that each part of the state may find itself in after another devastating storm
 Important typology factors such as rivers and marsh-lands are noted to suggest easy flooding areas
Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), Rutgers University, and Jacques Cousteau       National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR). "NJ Flood Mapper." NJ Flood Mapper. NOAA Cooperative Institute         for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technologies (CICEET), and Sustainable New Jersey, n.d. Web. 19 Apr.           2013<>.
Wikipedia contributors. "Effects of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The       Free Encyclopedia, 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2013 

New Jersey Regulations Post Sandy

April 29th is the Sixth Month Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. During the recovery period, numerous amendments and laws have been adopted to protect lives and property following Superstorm Sandy. One item in particular involves the state's adoption of emergency amendments to New Jersey's Flood Hazard Area Control Act, which establishes the minimum elevation standards for the reconstruction of houses and buildings in areas that are in danger of flooding.
    To determine if you are affected by these new laws, your property must have been declared "substantially damaged" by your municipal flood plain administrator. The rule also applies to all new construction and those who are starting new construction. A structure is considered substantially damaged if the cost of restoration equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure prior to the damage. Recent congressional action resulted in significant changes to National Flood Insurance Program rates. Flood insurance costs, which are outside the control of the state, are likely to be much lower for those who elevate using the state's elevation standards.
      FEMA can provide up to $30,000 to cover the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) with federal, state and local regulations if you have federal flood insurance. In addition, the Christie Administration intends to provide grants to homeowners with substantially damaged homes to help them offset some of the costs of elevation, mitigation and renovation, and intends to announce in the spring the mechanism for such grants. Homeowners may live in existing structures that are deemed substantially damaged for up to 4 years before needing to elevate if they can take temporary measures to make their homes habitable.
      Some technical issues have arisen for homeowners in terms of local zoning and building code. Raising an elevation is classified by the state as an addition under the rehabilitation subcode because it brings about an increase in the mean height of the highest roof of the structure. The addition itself must comply with the requirements for new construction. In the case of the elevation change of an existing house, the components that must comply with new code would be the new foundation system, including pilings.
     The height limit for most wood-framed houses is two stories and 35 feet in height under the uniform building code. Thus raising the height above 35 feet for an existing building would normally bring into play fire suppression systems and additional protocols to improve the safety of the building and improve the ability of the occupants to evacuate safely in the event of a fire.      For this reason, a variation may be granted for increases in height provided that there are hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms installed in the locations required by the one-and two-family dwelling subcode; and the dwelling unit is separated by a one hour, fire-rated assembly from any parking area or other area underneath the dwelling unit where motor vehicles or water craft or other gas-fired engines may be stored. Any home whose mean height is above 42 feet, an engineering analysis should be required to demonstrate that all of the connections (not limited to just the roof) will resist the predicted wind forces.
     It is important that if you were affected, that you carefully document any repair or reconstruction project to ensure you have a record of all activities from inception to completion. Photographs and other forms of documentation should be kept before, during, and after construction. Retain all receipts, bills, surveys and construction plans. These items will help document the history of your project should you need to do so for FEMA assistance or insurance reimbursement.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disaster Preparedness


Don’t wait for a disaster to happen to discover what you should have already done.

Construction code requirements are minimum requirements!

You can do better!

Tom Rybak, AIA talks about Disaster Preparedness. Presented before the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce July 10th, 2012 conference on Disaster Planning and avoidance held at the Bergen County Community.

Have TMR and Associates, P.C./ Boiling Springs Group evaluate your facilities for disaster preparation, to include such items as:

o    Move important document storage, IT systems and business critical functions to a location not affected by rising flood waters.
o    Protect business critical functions with construction rated for fire, flooding, high winds, etc.
o    Upgrade building system, such as, security, sprinklers, emergency power generation, etc.
o    Improve site conditions for storm drainage.
o    Create as-built drawings for disaster recovery.
o    Confirm that existing systems are working as they were designed, (keeping up with maintenance, regular product and system upgrades).
o    Check the “Acts of God” exclusions to insurance coverage on items assumed to be covered. Common “Acts of God”, such as flooding and earthquake damage, are generally excluded from coverage by most insurance policies. An option is to purchase an add-on policy, or rider, that provides you with additional coverage.

Create a Disaster Recovery Plan folder stored both onsite and offsite that contains:
o    TMR and Associates, P.C. to evaluate your building’s post disaster condition.
o    Copies of up-to-date drawings showing the building’s plans and construction details, including electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.
o    Copy of insurance policies.
o    Contact sheet for:
- list of people who are critical to keep the business running
- insurance agent
- Boiling Springs Group, General Contractors, for emergency repairs
- suppliers and clients
- nearby hospitals
- town construction officials
- NJ State Office of Emergency Management
- routes to and from your facility that are most likely to remain open during a disaster
o    Records of all warranties for building components and systems, such as:
- roofing membrane, windows, siding or building exterior finish, equipment necessary for company operations, HVAC equipment
o    Locations of building utilities shut offs and instructions on how to use them for:
- electrical main distribution panel disconnect switch
- water service main valve
- gas service main valve
- sprinkler system main shut off valve (turning this valve off will trigger an alarm and notification of the fire department. It should only be done when a pipe breaks or a sprinkler head is accidentally discharged and interior water damage becomes a non-fire related issue. The Fire Department must first be informed of the situation.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Urban Intervention Design Competion

The design is taking the existing Site as is, lifting the green space and plugs-in needed commercial occupancy, hiding vehicular traffic and storage, by developing pedestrian arteries. The green open spaces get a face lift with new varied activities which respect the surrounding areas, Mother Nature, and underline the local venues. As part of our approach, we would include a sky cab car system which would connect the Space Needle with our Site and underline various services needed for tourism, recreation, and innovation. Our approach shows consideration for limited Water supply, Sun as a source of light and energy, and Wind for creature comfort. These ideas can be incorporated into other locations and be a working model to develop zoning requirement as needed bases rather then today’s method of development.