Hurricane Sandy decimated infrastructure across the region, leaving millions without electricity and heat. The NYCHA Red Hook Houses, built on reclaimed land near the water, were particularly hard hit. After the storm swept through in 2012, 55% of the development’s residents – which total 6,000 people across 28 buildings – were left without electricity for 3 weeks due to submerged mechanical equipment located in flooded basements. The NYCHA Sandy Resiliency and Renewal Program mitigates future climate disasters and community vulnerability by developing and strengthening the Red Hook Houses.
KPF’s decentralized master plan, which was designed with input from residents, will lessen the chance of widespread electrical failure by bringing the mechanical equipment above ground level. Two new freestanding buildings will house boiler plants, and 14 utility pods located throughout the complex will both distribute electricity and act as a wayfinding tools. Kassem explains the design “elevate[s] this equipment above the flood plane . . . to protect it” with the goal of safeguarding “residents [from] another extreme hardship.” Additionally, a new landscape design concept based on “lily pads” raises earth at the center of internal courtyards, offering permanent flood barriers to support a porous campus.