KPF and NYCHA devised a resiliency and renewal program that would lessen the community’s vulnerability to natural disasters and improve the sustainability and livability of the development’s 28 buildings housing over 6,000 people.
Making landfall in October 2012, Superstorm Sandy left thousands of Red Hook residents without power and access to food, supplies, and medical assistance for more than two weeks. Built on reclaimed land near the water, the neighborhood’s infrastructure also suffered dramatically, with virtually all basement mechanical rooms destroyed. The proposed plan includes two freestanding buildings for above ground boilers that incorporate community amenities in their design. The West Plant features a planted roof, acting as a continuation of the adjacent public park, while the East Plant includes social spaces in addition to a translucent exterior. Fourteen “utility pods” provide heat and electricity, further decentralizing the infrastructure and decreasing the likelihood of widespread utility failure.
The project’s “lily pad” concept, its major resiliency component, offers a nonobtrusive landscape solution for flood protection. Raised earth at the center of internal courtyards offer permanent flood barriers to support a porous campus. Low floodwalls doubling as benches will automatically deploy in the event of high water. During normal weather, these elements transform the resident experience by providing vibrant, social spaces.
KPF’s approach to the project incorporated community input at every phase of design. Focus groups, interviews, surveys, design workshops, and update meetings brought vital, local knowledge into the design process, enabling the development of a successful new vision of success for NYCHA’s largest development in the borough.