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Urbahn Architects

Overview: The George R. Vierno Center is one of ten residential facilities for detainees of the NYC Department of Corrections (DOC) on Rikers Island. This new addition consists of 2 housing buildings and a central administration building, carefully massed to comply with FAA height restrictions for nearby LaGuardia Airport. Each 4-story housing building is outfitted with detainee dormitories, and with two adjacent outdoor recreation porches. The administration building provides for all required inmate programs, visiting, inmate intake & discharge, security, and a large main kitchen.

Sustainable Features: Given the overarching security concerns and stringent operational regimens, it is significant that the DOC is integrating several high-performance features into this, and other upcoming, capital projects. There is a 24-hour demand for energy and other resources, coupled with harsh, weather-exposed site conditions, and yet the DOC expects a 15% improvement in energy use, with a 4.4 year simple payback. Materials were chosen for their recycled and low-emitting characteristics, as well as their durability and ease of maintenance. Located on Rikers Island, New York City. Size: 240,000 gross square feet in a campus setting. Construction cost of $110,000,000. Building completion 2009 (Design commenced 1999).

Client Agencies: NYC Department of Corrections; NYC Department of Design & Construction.

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Sustainable Site

Alternate transportation encouraged
Nighttime light pollution reduced

Light-colored, reflective roofing used
Light-colored paving used
Shuttle bus to public transportation provided for staff
Bicycle racks and showers available for staff
Exterior luminaries with cut-off


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced for landscaping

Native drought-resistant plants



Energy use reduced -15% over a New York Energy Conservation Code
Annual energy savings of $71,090 (2006 rates)
Payback – 4.4 years simple payback of energy conserving measures
Ozone depletion reduced
System-operations integrated

Daylighting for occupied spaces
High-performance lighting
Envelope improved with insulation, insulated metal panels and high-
performance glass
Concrete construction – thermal mass
High-efficiency fans and pump motors
Two-stage absorption chillers
Commissioning of systems


Material Conservation

Recycled materials used
Local products given preference

Major materials targeted for recycled content, including fly-ash in concrete,


Healthy Interiors

Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, and urea
Daylight maximized
Views outside maximized
Natural light to all regularly occupied spaces

Specifications for low-emitting paints, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-
formaldehyde composite woods
Borrowed lights in all detainee areas and office areas


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