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Designing Resilient Public Buildings and Infrastructure

Design has the power to protect us. From extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, to human-made disasters, New York is susceptible to a range of environmental and security threats. One of the greatest hazards is the increased frequency and severity of these types of events. As the managers of NYC’s public construction portfolio, it is critical that we design our buildings and infrastructure with resiliency in mind.

We’ve committed to rebuilding our city after major storms as well as creating new structures that will stand withstand future problems. This is a testament to our vision of enhancing our communities and contributing to the City’s growth. Here we highlight five projects that show the diverse ways designing for resiliency can not only make us safe in the present, but prepare and protect our communities for years to come.

East Flatbush Library, Brooklyn

Ocean Breeze Athletic Center, Staten Island

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy delayed construction on the Ocean Breeze Athletic Center after flooding occurred underneath the building’s elevated base. After the storm, we decided to lift the generator, transformer and control room above ground level where it will stay dry during floods. The 135,000 square-foot facility is now a resilient, premiere sports center, featuring one of just two hydraulic tracks in the United States.

East Flatbush Library, Brooklyn

Manhattan Districts 1, 2 & 5 Garage and Salt Shed, Manhattan

This 425,000-square-foot facility features a deployable panel system that serves as a flood barrier during storms due to the garage’s proximity to the Hudson River. This barrier allows the garage to bounce back quickly after a storm to ensure the delivery of necessary services goes relatively uninterrupted.

The neighboring Spring Street Salt Shed is no exception to this resilient mind set. Made entirely of reinforced concrete, the structure protects the 5,000 pounds of road salt within from the threat of flood waters. Metal gates that act as the entryway to the structure are heavy and non-corrosive, and therefore able to keep out floating debris.

Noguchi Museum

Noguchi Museum, Queens

The famous museum built by and dedicated to the works of Isamu Noguchi sits below sea level due to its close proximity to the East River. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy threatened the 31-year-old museum, damaging artwork in the basement and causing extensive water damage on the walls of the outdoor landscaped sculpture garden. To protect the site from future flooding, a sump pump, a pump that removes water that has accumulated in the basement, was installed. Every day, the system pumps out enough groundwater to fill an above-ground swimming pool. Additionally, a new concrete wall was installed around the garden to protect the artwork and landscape within from future flooding.

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