AbstractSince the enactment of the first New York City (NYC) facade inspection ordinance in 1980, eight five-year complete cycles have been registered. The paper is a commentary on the 40-year years’ evolution of the practice of facade inspection and repair as influenced by technical developments, changes in legislation and building owners’ attitudes. The large number of number of buildings (by now 16,000) and the number of cycles made NYC the principal terrain where methods of inspection and repair techniques were tested. The interpretation of the law was refined by rules issued in response to recurring failures. In 1980, there were few professionals knowledgeable of the causes of facade distress and effective repair methods. Gradually, the various types of facade distress found explanations and adequate repair solutions were developed; a professional specialty dedicated to facade conditions has reached maturity. The author supports the arguments with various descriptive statistics of inspection ratings, violations, applications to repair, all corelated with the NYC typologies. A quantitative proof of success could not be deduced from an analysis of inspection ratings of four successive cycles, as the rating definitions have evolved over the last 20 years. A reduction in number of decaying facades is noticeable, but accidents have continued to occur. The public awareness and concerns about the risks posed by facades has increased and as expectations remain high, the scope of the Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP) has evolved from minimizing the number of accidents to a timely protection from hazards.

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