Brooklyn Heights Residents Tom van den Bout and Brenda Nelson Win Preservation Award


At the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s 20th Presentation of the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards to be held on April 21, Brooklyn Heights’s Tom van den Bout and his wife Brenda Nelson will be honored for their architecture firm NV/da’s work on 36 Grace Court in the Heights.

Of the projects to be recognized this year at the American Museum of Natural History, which include the Museum itself, the Empire State Building lobby, and The High Line, 36 Grace Court is the only private residence.

“It’s a little intimidating,” van den Bout said, laughing. NV/da will accept the award along with the home’s owners, the contractor, and all of the sub-contractors involved in the restoration, which took place from November 2008 until July of last year.

36 Grace Court before restoration

36 Grace Court before restoration

Van den Bout, who is also the current president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, said the most difficult part of the restoration, which included both interior and exterior work, was getting approval from New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to remove concrete panels on the upper stories of the exterior.

“We hoped there might be brick underneath,” van den Bout recalled. “It turned out the concrete was bonded to the brick, and they had totally destroyed the brick behind it to get the concrete to adhere.”

It’s NV/da’s first and only “Lucy” Award, the Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honors for preservation efforts. Come May, anybody who wants to can marvel at the award-winning work both inside and out: 36 Grace Court will be one of the houses on display during this year’s Brooklyn Heights Spring House Tour.

(Editor’s Note: Owners Trena Keating and David Pitofsky were honored earlier this year by the BHA for the restoration of 36 Grace Court.)

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  • Topham Beauclerk

    They certainly deserve it. Splendid work.

  • Evelyn at WPL

    Remarkable transformation! Ironically, a quality restoration is apparent when it is not apparent, such as this facade. I used to live next door to this house for a small stint and always cringed as I walked by, never quite understanding what would compell someone to create the atrosity it used to be. Great to see what it looks like now…

  • milton

    these two photos are really the same house?
    How did they do that?
    that is remarkable.
    no wonder it is getting an award.

  • Bob

    Neighborhood is full of those “dropped front door” jobs–they are atrocious to look at, This was even worse. It IS hard to believe the two pics are of the same building. This was truly fine work and deserves an award. All of us here in BH, whether renter or owner should remember we are stewards of our beautiful neighborhood. Some others before us–in not so affluent times–have seen fit to keep their buildlings as they were and preserve them. It is our responsibility to carry that on. This is your neighborhood–you chose to live here. If you have the resources, keep up your property and return it to the glory that it was when it was new. These are irreplaceable–the soul of why this is the first landmarked neighborhood of the city