The Weekly is STREAMING now. Join us at HorizonTV

Nation's first LEED-certified bus depot

A bus garage in Harlem shows that even the most mundane of facilities can strut its environmentally sensitive stuff.

April 09, 2015 |
Nation's first LEED-certified bus depot

The LEED-certified Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot in Harlem incorporates 6,290 sf of mosaic and laminated glass artwork that the transit authority commissioned from artist Shinique Smith. Chris Cooper/Chris Cooper Photography

Mother Clara Hale (1905–1992) was an American humanitarian who founded Hale House for unwanted children born with drug addictions. One year after her death, a bus depot on 146th Street in New York’s Harlem neighborhood was named after her. That building—erected in 1890 as a trolley barn, and razed and rebuilt as a bus depot in 2009—is now projected to be the first major LEED-certified bus depot in the country.

The owner, MTA New York City Transit, involved more than 150 community leaders in its first-ever community design charrette. Out of those meetings emerged a design that focuses on safe, efficient operations, with an emphasis on getting buses off the street as quickly as possible. To achieve that goal, the Building Team had to consider accessibility, clearance, service utilities, and lighting for each area and function.

This was not an easy building to work with. Given the magnitude of the facility, the structure was designed as three separate buildings connected via expansion joints to accommodate thermal movement. Soil conditions were poor. Lateral seismic loads were much greater than from wind. The dynamically shaped façade uses a potpourri of materials and systems—concrete masonry, precast concrete, curtain wall, storefront, art glass, and metal panels.

Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot
New York, N.Y.

Submitting firm: STV (architect, structural/MEP engineer)
Owner/developer: MTA New York City Transit
General contractor: Silverite 
Construction manager: CB&I

Project size: 390,000 sf
Construction cost: $225 million
Construction start to occupancy: November 2010 to December 2014
Construction method: Design-build

Architecture/engineering firm STV had to develop a complex system of steel member cantilevers from the floor edge to provide support at each transition and interface. The Building Team also relied heavily on BIM to integrate the design, help contractors link components with activities, and cut production time. 

The depot features 12 service stations and two articulated workstations with six portable lifts. Half of the roof is cooled with CO2-absorbing plants; the other half has a reflective white surface. The facility’s 50,000-gallon rainwater collection system should reduce water use by one million gallons a year. A passive heating panel on the south façade allows air to be pulled in and preheated in the space between the façade and exterior masonry.

“The city of New York created an artistic centerpiece for the Harlem neighborhood,” says Terry Fielden, LEED AP BD+C, Director of K-12 Education at ICI, and a Building Team Awards judge. “The combined use of exterior artwork with the desire to conserve water resources sends a message of commitment to sustainability. The effort is a reminder that even a basic and functional facility can be a focal point of character in an urban environment.” 


The Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot in Harlem is the first LEED-certified bus stop in the U.S.

Overlay Init

Your card will be charged: 0