Monday, December 10, 2007


Scarano Horror Looming In Carroll Gardens

Architect Robert Scarano
(photo credit: The Real Deal, November 2007)

Ms. Patricia Lancaster, Commissioner, Buildings Department
(Photo Credit:

I am fuming mad and you will know why after reading the article below. For the last couple of years, Carroll Gardeners, decent, hard-working people, have had to fight to keep rogue architects from destroying their low-density brownstone neighborhood. Attending meetings at night, when they should be home with their families, calling 311 (the gripe line) to report unsafe building conditions and last but not least, asking local politicians (to no avail) to stand up for the neighborhood by helping to down-zone.
Busy work! A waste of time! Why? Because in back rooms, the Buildings Department makes deals with architects who push the envelope in any way they can. The article which appeared this Sunday in the Daily News illustrates how dysfunctional the NYC Department of Buildings is. Or maybe I should rephrase this: it illustrates how the Department of Buildings pushes the envelope in favor of unscrupulous architects and builders in order to fulfill Mayor Bloomberg's mandate of turning every inch of New York City into high-priced, high-rise condos. Shame on them all.
C.O.R.D. (Carroll Gardens Coalition For Respectful Development) has been pushing for a moratorium on new construction in Carroll Gardens until the neighborhood can be landmarked or down-zoned. That's a great idea.
Pardon me for asking, but why not ask for a moratorium on all building here in Brooklyn until the Department of Buildings is re-organized, made functional and more importantly made less corrupt? Lets just say "no new issuing of permits" until Commissioner Patricia Lancaster is fired and architects like Robert Scarano don't get license to blatantly disregard existing codes.
Let's never forget that people like Commissioner Lancaster and politicians work for us, the citizens of New York. They get paid with our taxpayer's money, which in my book makes them our employees. We have rights. So lets use them.
Lets tell them:

Building's Chief Hid Architect's Mistake

Daily News December 9th, 2008
By Brian Kates

The top official responsible for enforcing building standards in the city signed secrecy agreements to hide a series of blunders that led to death and building evacuations.

Patricia Lancaster, the $162,800-a-year buildings commissioner, hid the mistakes made by architect Robert Scarano.

Lancaster - also an architect - signed an unusual stipulation promising not to report the alleged misdeeds of Scarano to "any regulatory agency," including one that could revoke his license.

The charges involve 32 properties, mostly in Brooklyn, and include alleged carelessness that resulted in the death of a construction worker and a screwup that forced a Brooklyn family to evacuate its unsafe home.

Lancaster hid a charge that Scarano signed off on unsafe conditions at a Brooklyn site where construction worker Anthony Duncan Sr. was crushed to death in a March 2006 building collapse.

The victim's family is outraged about Lancaster's actions.

"If they are not going to pursue Scarano to the fullest extent, then who are they going to pursue?" asked Duncan's son, Anthony Jr. "It's like they're laughing in my face ... Scarano is still working, but my father is dead." (continue reading here)

Building Chief Hid Architect's Mistake (Daily New)
Brooklyn homeowner: Buildings commissioner should face charges (Daily News)

Scarano pointing the finger back (The Real Deal)

For Home Page, click Pardon Me For Asking


Archiholic said...

Pardon me for asking, but will you be hiring the thousands of hard working contractors / laborers that would be out of work if there was a halt to construction in Brooklyn.
P.S. I'm not stick up for Scarano but architects are mandated to follow the law and in most cases it is the law that is faulty and not the architect.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that would help the rental picture in the New York metro area. Um, Econ 101, what happens to prices when demand rises and supply is halted or reduced? Maybe you want a moratorium on rental increases too? NY tried that in the 70s, remember how that turned out?

Kelly said...

Dear Archiholic,
It is clear that something is rotten to the core in the Buildings Department. Yes, the laws have to be changed. Even more inspectors need to be hired, and as far as I am concerned, self-certification is insane.
As far as the construction workers are concerned, I am sure that they are as frustrated with the department as the rest of New Yorkers. According to an article in THE BROOKLYN HEIGHTS COURIER
construction site accidents are soaring in our Borough

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to give Pardon Me For Asking credit for saying what all NIMBYs actually think but don't want to say.

Archiholic said...


People have to be careful where they place blame and liability. Too often I'm hearing that the fault of the world is with Architects or DOB, as in this and the Daily News postings. The building industry involves many players and no one person or agency can assume full responsibility. For example,it is most often not the responsibility of the architect to insure workers safety. This is the contractors responsibility and is monitored by a federal agency (OSHA).

As far as the workers are concerned, specially the non unionized labor that is predominant in our borough, they are glad to have a job so they can at last afford a meal a day for their families.

Anonymous said...

You asshole. Do you have any idea the deleterious effects of baring work at new construction sites that have yet to be or the are already have-worked on?

Anonymous said...

Yeh thanks for the name calling anonymous. I'm on a job site almost everyday and have been exposed to many harmful products in my career. I am insistent that all OSHA and MSDS recommendations are met on my job sites but I have no authority over it, and would like to see better oversight. my point is that a moratorium on all buildings would equal people starving and homeless at the end of the day. You are talking about people that take the cash they make that day and buy food to feed their children the same night. Once we start living in an ideal world then maybe we'll take your idealistic recommendations, in the mean time foolish idealism can do a lot of harm.
Keep fighting the good fight.

Kelly said...

Hey, hey, no name calling, please. I am truly interested in what everyone has to say, but I don't respond well to cursing.
Nobody wants to take jobs away from construction workers who get paid day to day. But we also should make sure that they stay safe.
I agree with archiholic. We need to hold EVERYBODY accountable, the owner/developer, the contractor as well as the architect.
But that also includes the Buildings Department.
Right now, that department seems understaffed and chaotic.
Rather than to pretend that things are o.k., we should address the problem now and force the city to reorganize the D.O.B., as well as allocate more money. And for goodness sake, lets make sure it has the power to really punish rogue architects and contractors

As long as the players feel that there are no real consequences to ignoring rules, there won't be any positive change.

Anonymous said...


Just because You or your ilk do not like the size or scale of a project does not make the architect or contractor a rogue. You are just as bad as the people using profanities on the site with your inane comments

Kelly said...

Dear Anon, what can I say to that, except: say what?
Why so hateful?
Have you read any of the articles on Scarano's record?. That is what we are discussing here at the moment, not the height of buildings.

Archiholic said...

Well Said Katia

Anonymous said...


Why so sensitive? Struck a nerve maybe with you deary?

Yes I can say I know of his work and the many buildings his office has designed which is more than I can say about what you have contributed to this great Borough except bash him without ever even having spoken to him or sought out his comments, WHY?

People have only seen the cruel articles in the last year but the hundreds of affordable housing units he has built go unnoticed. Go do some homework and you will see what the deal is and get used to Carroll Street because it is not going away. In fact I hear they are about to start up again.

BTW Archiholic see who defends you when people start bashing the one little job you did last year. You will see what the real deal is with the Architectural profession.

Anonymous said...

Katia I love this comment i saw today on curbed; what a great idea! "Moratorium no. How about a class action law suit against the DOB? How many homeowners have had their properties damaged by contractors AFTER making 311 complaints to the DOB that were later systematically declared "resolved"? Brooklyn must be loaded with property owners with damaged foundations by now. Show me where to sign up! Surely there must be one NYC law firm able to beat the DOB's "not enough inspectors to go around" defense."
I love this!

Anonymous said...

Don't let the nasty comments get to you Katia!

11:02 - How do you know Carroll St. is about to start up? Do you work for Scarano, Fischman, or AH? Or are you just fear mongering? And by the way, Katia has volunteered enormous amounts of time and energy over many years to improving our neighborhood and without any need for public recognition for her efforts.