Andrew Feldman – RAD & D’Aprile
It’ll be the borough of Brooklyn’s first public school that adheres to Passive House standards. That’s a relatively new construction designation for a structure whose heat is at least half supplied via passive solar power such as sunlight streaming through energy-efficient, south-facing windows. Another 15 to 30 percent comes from heat recovery or other internal means, leaving just around 20 percent in need of a boiler.
While much of the precision work needed for such a well-insulated building isn’t typically entrusted to a masonry contractor, it has been here. When Blueprint caught up with the company’s president in March, he assured that intricacies notwithstanding, everything was proceeding toward a September substantial masonry completion.
“It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this and it’s a very difficult task,” said Andrew Feldman, who’s overseen Long Island-headquartered RAD & D’Aprile for more than 41 years. “But it’s been an easy winter for working, we’re about 60 percent done and we’ll have it ready by end of summer.”
Answering to general contractor Hunter Roberts, Feldman says RAD & D’Aprile has had to lay its masonry in close conjunction with the other trades to make the building airtight. A company’s always under much scrutiny when working for the public sector, he says, and there’s been much on-the-job learning for his skilled hires and occasional need for him to subcontract some functions.
Still, his crew is nothing if not versatile and motivated. That, Feldman says, should position RAD & D’Aprile for more projects as demand for the Passive House standard increases in New York City, where sustainability is more than a buzzword and his company does the bulk of its work.
Just look around
RAD & D’Aprile takes on projects with values anywhere from $70,000 to $21 million. And Feldman’s role: It’s mostly about ensuring a skilled workforce is in place, that vendors live up to their responsibilities and time and budgetary constraints are honored.
“I’m like the maestro,” he says. “That’s basically what I do, making sure everything’s going according to plan and I’m in control well enough for everyone else to do their jobs.”
High on the company’s to-do list is putting the finishing touches on the Walt Disney Company’s new Manhattan headquarters, the 22-story Galaxy, which covers an entire block. Its façade of green terracotta panel is inspired by its Hudson Square surroundings.
Then at 270 Park Ave., Feldman expects his crews to finish by next year the interior to JP Morgan Chase’s new skyscraper—a 1,388-foot structure that replaces the financial firm’s former digs in the 55-story Union Carbide Building, which was demolished in 2021. This easily ranks as among RAD & D’Aprile’s most formidable tasks, and Feldman calls it further proof that his company can undertake large-scale projects and amid logistical issues that include precise timing for deliveries on Manhattan’s congested streets.
All around the big city and in parts of the tristate area, the company has served diverse clientele that has included universities, the port authority, municipal facilities and the hospitality industry. The Freedom Tower—the 1,792-foot skyscraper constructed on the same site of the original World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11—had its interior done by RAD & D’Aprile.
Time was when Feldman might never have seen himself in this role. A New York University accounting graduate who earned a master’s in taxation from Hofstra University in 1979, he had spent the early part of his career crunching numbers. Then his father-in-law, who was one of founders of RAD & D’Aprile, beckoned Feldman to bring his accounting acumen in-house. Feldman spent years learning the business and in 1996 became president.
Much has changed in this industry and not necessarily to the advantage of a subcontractor. Under New York’s evolving laws, there’s no limit on the liability of a subcontractor, and Feldman says he’s seen some inappropriately blamed issues caused by a general contractor.
“The best way to mitigate these situations is to have the most safety protocols and redundancies in place,” he says. “You’ve just got to be aware that a lot of liability is pushed onto the subcons. We don’t like that, and we too subcontract some of our work.”
But it all seems worth it once a project is complete, and Feldman can point to many. That Brooklyn school will be part of a new neighborhood redevelopment that will include New York City’s first all-electric skyscraper. Hunter Roberts committed to more Passive Standards, it’s likely to enlist RAD & D’Aprile for further projects.
Feldman assures the company will be ready. How indispensable he says it is to have longevity in the ranks. RAD & D’Aprile’s crew being unionized, he says everyone shares in the company’s success. Four decades-plus with the company hasn’t had him thinking retirement, though he does enjoy get-aways to his vacation home on Florida’s Gulf Coast where he keeps his boat. But he doesn’t stay away for long.
“It’s not just about building buildings,” Feldman says. “It’s creating relationships with people in the industry. These relationships inevitable help create a great working environment where we all share in the success of being a part of something that will be there for generations to come. Owners, contractors and workers can all benefit from what we do.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. V 2023 Edition here.
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