Better New York

October 28, 2009

Major Milestone For Sustainability, Supportive Housing In NYC Goes Green

Fox Point ribbon cutting celebrates new supportive housing with green features and sustainable design.

Bronx, NY, October 26, 2009 – On October 22, 2009, 48 units of green, supportive housing at Fox Point in the Foxhurst section of the Bronx officially opened with a ribbon cutting and recognition ceremony, giving homeless and low-income families a unique opportunity.
Fox Point Green Supportive HousingRibbon cutting attendees gathering on rear terrace

The project, sponsored by Palladia and designed by OCV Architects, proves that even supportive housing in an economically demanding marketplace can go green. At the ceremony, Enterprise Foundation, Fox Point’s tax credit syndicator, pledged to add another 6,000 units of green affordable housing to NYC’s stock of low-income housing by 2013. Fox Point, which is registered for LEED Silver accreditation, was recognized as the new standard for quality and sustainability in the fulfillment of that goal.
After the ceremony attendees mingle and admire from above

Built with long-term viability in mind, Fox Point integrates green systems and sustainable materials into both the building’s design and operation, reducing the need for future repair and prohibitive operational costs, and protecting the building as an investment in affordable housing in a climate of uncertainty. 
OCV Architects and Enterprise Community PartnersDiscussing Fox Point’s green elements are, from left to right: Bill Frey, Executive Vice President of Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise); Jane Velez, President of Palladia; Sally Bernstein Project Manager from Palladia; Marshall Goldberg, Vice President of Palladia; Mary Ellen Cooper Project Manager from OCV Architects; and Abby Sigal, Vice President of Enterprise

Designed to create a healthy background for living, the architecture uses natural light for inviting and efficient spaces. The design responds to the special typography of the site with steps and levels, creating multiple ‘green roof’ and garden areas not just for tenants to enjoy, but also to help manage water, temperature, operating costs and the building’s impact on the environment.

Fox Point is Sustainable Supportive HousingJane Velez, President of Palladia, congratulates Sally Bernstein on a job well done as Palladia’s Project Manager

Among the sustainable design systems featured at Fox Point is the use of a highly innovative microturbine to recover and reuse wasted energy and heat produced by the conventional systems it piggybacks on. The recovered energy is then used for heating, lighting and other building operations, significantly supplementing the energy provided by utilities.
Inside Fox Point’s lobby

About OCV Architects
Oaklander, Coogan and Vitto, P.C. is a versatile, award-winning architectural firm serving the New York Metropolitan area for over 30 years. OCV’s body of work ranges from affordable and special needs housing to high-end private residences, from gut rehabs and historic preservation to innovative new construction. Producing over 1,000 units of affordable and supportive housing, the firm regularly partners with urban housing authorities and development groups to create sustainable, attractive residences within restrictive budgets. As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, OCV strives to bring to each design respect for a project’s site, setting, history and culture, while making every effort to build responsibly and sustainably.

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May 26, 2009

OCV Architects Designs Serviam Gardens: Turning a Bronx Convent into Green Mixed-Use Senior Apartments

Serviam Gardens — an 8 story 240-unit affordable Senior housing and mixed-use project by OCV Architects — will recycle, reuse and redevelop 9 acres of Mount Saint Ursula’s campus in the Bronx. The project also includes adaptive reuse and restoration of an exiting Georgian style convent on the property. The development will generate revenue benefitting the Church, the religious community and the Catholic Girl’s School of the Ursuline Mission.  The 2-phase plan will also renovate, reuse and enlarge an Historic convent by converting it to housing and adding new construction.

Sponsored by the Enterprise Foundation, the design features of Serviam Gardens adhere to the strict standards of Enterprises’ Green Communities Initiative. Such features include a Green roof, a rain water recycling system, energy efficient lighting and cooling, and a super-insulated building envelope. The Enterprise Foundation provides over $180 million annually to develop affordable housing grants through their Rose Fellowship.

Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation will lease the land as part of their initiative to create more affordable housing in New York City. While building efficiently is challenging, (with scarce land resources and increasing demand), OCV Architects continues to partner with city agencies and non-profits to bring solutions to the affordable housing battle, making a better New York for the diverse city population.

Jack Coogan, partner at OCV Architects, heads up the project. Serviam Gardens is just one of many Green supportive housing projects in the architects’ portfolio and on the boards at his bustling firm. For Coogan, Green design features are part-n-parcel of smart design, benefitting residents, the environment and the bottom line. Green architecture cuts costs because Green buildings use less.

In addition to senior apartments, the mixed-use site will feature communal spaces for recreation, on-site social services, a library, parking, and child-care facilities. The plans also include surrounding gardens, which will serve to minimize the impact upon the Mt. Saint Ursuline School campus as well as benefit the residents.

 Serviam Gardens

Rose Fellowship

Enterprise Foundation

Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation

The Natural Resources Defense Council

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March 24, 2009

OCV Architects is making a better New York by bringing LEED Silver standards to Supportive Housing in the Bronx

OCV Architects is creating a supportive housing breakthrough in Fox Point, a low income housing residence (sponsored by Palladia, Inc.), by bringing sustainable design in low income housing up to US Green Building Council LEED standards. OCV Architects is a proud member of the USGBC.

FOX POINT is 48 units of studios, one and two bedroom apartments and support facilities in 55,000 square feet of light and airy architecture. The new building envelope and engineering systems employ high-performance, sustainable design as a healthy background for living. The architecture is focused on being inviting and efficient, with every advantage of the natural light to realize both. The design also responds to the special typography of the site, with steps and levels of living space and green space. This not only makes for multiple ‘green roof’ and garden areas for the tenants to enjoy, they also help manage water, temperature, costs and impact of the building. Qualifying tenants are given affordable homes and access to a variety of social services on site. For those formerly homeless residents, HUD subsidizes their rent through HUD’s Care +Shelter Program.
Fox Point Green Supportive Housing

This project is registered for LEED silver accreditation, employing many of the opportunities for low impact development outlined by the USGBC. Through these sustainable materials and systems, Fox Point is housing with long-term viability in mind, reducing the need for future repair and prohibitive operational costs, and thereby protecting the project as an investment in affordable housing — making a better New York.

Among these sustainable design systems featured at Fox Point is the use of a highly innovative  micro turbine — a highly efficient generator that recovers and reuses the wasted energy and heat produced by the conventional systems it piggybacks on. The energy recovered is reused for heat, light and other building operations, significantly supplementing the energy provided by utilities. City buildings create 79% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emission, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has identified micro turbines as part of the solution to our great city’s high fossil fuel impact. Micro turbines expend sustainable energy that is 70-80% usable (where as only 35% of a power plants expended energy is usable).

Founding partner at OCV Architects, Richard Vitto RA AP knows from over three decades of experience that LEED establishes a high standard for future development, but not one we should shy away from. For affordable housing it creates a building and an environment that serve the population most in need of these benefits.

Download a Fox Point brochure here >

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January 08, 2008

The Supportive Housing Network of New York honored 2 OCV projects as the “Outstanding Residence of the Year” at their annual Gala in Manhattan

October 2007, New York, NY: At its annual Gala / Fund Raiser, SHNNY honored The Christopher residence in Manhattan and The Cornerstone Residence in Newburgh as their “Residences of the Year”— both designed by OCV Architects.

Common Ground Community sponsored the Christopher to provide urban housing for homeless adults and for teens aging out of Foster Care. Safe Harbors on the Hudson spearheaded the partnership to build the Cornerstone residence — an example of what a community can provide for it’s neediest while revitalizing the community as a whole. This Newburgh, N.Y. residence houses families and artists as well as small businesses and a theater.


430 Network members attended the event including OCV's Richard Vitto, architect of the two outstanding projects. Mr. Vitto has been designing supportive housing for most of his 30+year career in architecture and this unprecedented SHNNY double honor is a testament to his vision.

SHNNY published a gala journal highlighting the event contributors and honorees. The journal states "The Cornerstone Residence is a stunning example of supportive housing addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk New Yorkers. The Network is proud to honor the Cornerstone as a Residence of the Year." The Gala journal (pdf) also pointed out the timeliness of each projects' ‘green’ features and went on to state: "… the Christopher is an exceptional supportive residence that brings out the best in architectural and program design to help more than 200 homeless and housing-needy residents rebuild their lives."


The projects are also extraordinary transformations of existing structures. In these cases, the rehabilitation of a former YMCA and a former grand Hotel makes these buildings examples of the contribution cities, large and small, can expect of forgotten properties. Both projects also focus on space, light and the latest in sustainable materials, finishes and design approach, while working within the budget constraints publicly funded developments traditionally encounter.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to work with these two fine organizations.” Mr. Vitto stated. “Both projects involved complex phasing and construction organization due to the need to accommodate existing occupancies. This coupled with the requirements of multiple programs made each project a fascinating challenge.” 

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October 25, 2007

Green Affordable Housing Project Opens in the Bronx


Published: October 19, 2007
By Kelly Sheehan, Online News Editor

New York—Enterprise Community Partners and Fordham Bedford Housing Corp., a community developer that creates and preserves affordable housing, has completed Jacob’s Place, a 63-unit environmentally friendly affordable housing complex in the Bronx in New York City.

John Reilly of Fordham Bedford Housing Corp. tells MHN that the project broke ground in August 2005. It includes a solar electric system (pictured) provided through the Solar Neighbors Program, a unique partnership created by Enterprise and BP.

Under the Solar Neighbors Program, every time a participating celebrity purchases a BP solar system for his or her home, BP donated a similar system to be installed on a low-income family’s home. Enterprise identifies these low-income families and affordable housing developers.
Jacob's Place Solar Panels
In this particular case, Jacob’s Place was provided with an 11 kW, 64-panel electric power system that will provide energy to common areas and elevators as well as for ventilation. Actor and director Owen Wilson, who purchased a solar system for his home, made the solar panel donation to Jacob’s Place possible. The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided half of the total cost of the solar system.

“Environmentally friendly housing is important not only for low-income residents who suffer disproportionately from high energy costs and environment-related health issues, such as asthma and high blood lead levels, but also for the environment as a whole,” says Abby Sigal, vice president and director of Enterprise New York. “Enterprise has put such tremendous resources behind its Green Communities program because we believe that building green is a necessity, not a luxury, in low-income neighborhoods.”

Continue reading this article  >

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October 21, 2007

FOXe News: "Affordable and Sustainable Apartment Building in the Bronx"


OCV’s “Jacob's Place”, the first low-income and green apartment building in the nation, had a ribbon cutting ceremony October 15 which was featured on FOXe News. The broadcast focused on the remarkable green features of the building and can be viewed online at 

Green Architecture benefits families as well as the environment. At Jacob's Place, materials were chosen to make the building healthier for Tenants, especially with regard to people suffering from asthma. All  finishes and furnishings have low-impact on the air quality in the building.

Materials were also chosen for their durability, sustainability and energy efficiency. All apartments have energy efficient windows and appliances as well as sustainable and durable bamboo flooring. (For more information on the sustainability of bamboo floors, visit

Bamboo Flooring as part of the OCV concept for Jacob's Place

But perhaps the most compelling green features cover the roof. 64 solar panels and a garden bed planted with a low growing sedum were an important part of OCV architect’s green design. The panels save on energy and it's costs to the families by producing enough power to operate the elevators and light the common area.

 Solar Panels as part of the OCV design for green supportive housing in the Bronx

Low-growing succulents, like the Sedum at Jacob's Place, add insulation — cutting costs and saving energy, but also having an impact beyond the building itself. The Sedum absorbs water, taking some burden off the city's storm system. Migratory birds also use green bed to rest on their seasonal routes. (For more information on planting for Green Rooftops, visit
green roofing material as part of OCV's architectural concept for Jacob's Place

As New York City grows, affordable housing is more and more in demand, and the creation of housing like Jacob's Place helps keeps this growth sustainable for the environment, the city infrastructure and the people of New York. 

Jack Coogan, Partner at OCV Architects, attends the ribbon cutting ceremony for jacob's Place

Jack Coogan (far left), Partner at OCV Architects, attends the ribbon cutting ceremony for Jacob's Place.

Also from left to right: Ivine Galarza (Community Board 6 District Manager), Shaun Donovan (NYC HPD Commissioner), José Rivera (US Congressman), Four members of the Jacobo family?(including Ana Jacobo – Astin’s wife), Joel Rivera (NYC Council Majority Leader)

Ed Norton amoung others who attended the ribbon cutting

John Reilly (Executive Director Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation), Cindy Wymore (Director, Government & Public Affairs, BP America – BP Solar), Ed Norton (Actor, Enterprise Board of Directors), Abby Jo Sigal (Vice President and New York Director, Enterprise), Elliot J. Hobbs (Vice President – JP Morgan Chase) 


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August 24, 2006

OCV Architects Completes “Georgia’s Place”: Supportive Housing for the Homeless


OCV Architects is making a better New York with the completion of a 48 unit supportive-housing site. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place with New York City’s Community Counseling and Mediation organization (CCM ) and many of NYC’s distinguished housing and development officials.

OCV Archtiects at the Georgia's Place Ribbon Cutting Reception

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of a new supportive housing facility in the center of Brooklyn. Notable attendees were sponsors and supporters of the CCM organization’s ‘Georgia’s Place’ named after their founding chairperson, the late Dr. Georgia McMurray. Distinguished ribbon cutters included Ruthann Pickering (NYS OTDA HHAP), Timothy O’Hanlon (NYC HPD), Luis Acosta (NYS DHCR), Laura Grund (NYC DHMH), Mike Litvin (HUD), and George Nashack (NYC DHS).

Richard Vitto, Founding Partner at OCV architects, headed up the 2-year project. It is one of many in his career as an urban supportive-housing architecture specialist.

Georgia's Place will be welcoming residents who are homeless and in need of mental health services. This new construction in Bedford-Stuyvesant supports the 48 private units with an on-site mental health clinic, a communal dining room, dining terrace, basketball court and a common room. The architecture is all designed by OCV to provide inviting homes for people with special needs.

Over the years Richard Vitto has partnered with many local non-profits and government agencies as the architect of facilities designed to house, help and re-acclimate people. His experience as an architect has given him skills to help non-profits cope with the financial, community and functional issues as well as the architectural design and construction of these havens. Mr. Vitto believes that certain critical architectural features — like open, light and comfortable common spaces — are an investment in the future of the less fortunate and the community at large. “Building something of quality for this population,” Vitto says, “revives the communal heart of a neighborhood and inspires us, and the surrounding residents, to take care of each other — making a better New York.”
Georgia's Place in Brooklyn, NY
Amy Larovere, consultant to CCM and many affordable housing agencies, highly recommends OCV Architects to all of her clients. “The design is thoughtful - beautiful,” Ms. Larovere said, “OCV helps to navigate the bureaucratic process. They do their job and I don’t worry about it." She went on to state, “Rich Vitto is well-respected by City and State agencies, non-profits and foundations.”

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August 23, 2006

OCV Architects Design Affordable Housing With Green Architecture


OCV Architects is making a better New York through the use of green architecture techniques at “Jacob’s Place,” a 63-unit affordable-housing construction project being built on Webster Avenue. Green architecture has become a fashionable buzzword in New York City housing, but OCV has made it a reality with beautiful, practical, eco-friendly buildings while maintaining their long-established style of community-inspired architecture. The finished work will include lush green roofs, highly durable bamboo floors and energy-efficient appliances.

Architect Jack Coogan, founding partner of OCV Architects, gave a tour of the sites, which include:

  • Jacob’s Place, a 63 unit affordable housing development and daycare center.
  • 2241 Webster Avenue, a rehabilitated tenement with green features
  • A community computer training center
  • A community playground.

On the tour were Elliot Spitzer, NY Attorney General, and Edward Norton, actor, activist and stakeholder in the Enterprise Foundation that is one of the sponsors of the multi-site project.

Ed Norton and Elliot Spitzer Check out the OCV green roof 

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How We Make A Better New York

Recent: Green Architecture

  • Major Milestone For Sustainability, Supportive Housing In NYC Goes Green
  • OCV Architects Designs Serviam Gardens: Turning a Bronx Convent into Green Mixed-Use Senior Apartments
  • OCV Architects is making a better New York by bringing LEED Silver standards to Supportive Housing in the Bronx
  • The Supportive Housing Network of New York honored 2 OCV projects as the “Outstanding Residence of the Year” at their annual Gala in Manhattan
  • Green Affordable Housing Project Opens in the Bronx
  • FOXe News: "Affordable and Sustainable Apartment Building in the Bronx"
  • OCV Architects Completes “Georgia’s Place”: Supportive Housing for the Homeless
  • OCV Architects Design Affordable Housing With Green Architecture

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  • Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation
  • U.S. Green Building Council
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  • Palladia Inc.
  • Enterprise Development Corporation
  • Bianchi: Design and Strategy
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About the firm:

Oaklander, Coogan and Vitto, P.C., is a versatile, client-driven architecture firm serving the New York Metropolitan area since 1973. Specializing in affordable and special-needs housing, the firm has partnered with many notable urban housing authorities and development groups to create multi-family housing, private homes, commercial spaces, schools, churches and community centers with great respect for each site’s urban landscape, history and culture.

OCV is also a member of The U.S. Green Building Council