After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Haven Plaza, an affordable housing complex, lost all electricity. This left residents, many of them elderly, without elevator service, heat, or water. In an effort to prevent this from happening again, a new $9.89 million natural disaster-resistant infrastructure building has just broken ground and associated resiliency upgrades are being added to the existing housing complex known as Haven Plaza.
Located at 212 Avenue C at East 13th Street, the new building will offer 2,080 sf of space. It will include three gas boilers for heating steam on the second level; electrical meters, domestic hot water pumps, and hot water heaters on the first level; and oil backup storage in the protected sub-grade space. The new building will allow Haven Plaza to be self-sufficient in case of another natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, as well as during normal operations. The building is being built in a heavily trafficked area in the East Village. As such, it will be aesthetically pleasing and use a glazed façade that allows people to view the equipment within.
The new building, designed by CTA Architects, will incorporate 1,300 sf of glazed curtain wall, 1,500 sf of metal façade panels, and 500 sf of green wall. Poured-concrete floors with poured-concrete walls allow for a column-free space that can accommodate the large equipment that will be housed within. 15 100-ton-capcaity poured-concrete underground pilings will be incorporated into the foundation system due to the low bearing quality of the soil.
“We specified three poured-concrete columns that expand vertically throughout the height of the building, for visual impact. They take the form of ‘fins,’” says CTA Principal Craig Tooman, AIA, LEED AP. These fins will work as columns and will support the concrete slabs, lift the entire structure 5 feet above the flood plain, and allow for the fully glazed facade along the avenue. The location of the site’s underground utilities, which have to be protected, dictated the fins’ size and placement.
The surrounding green space will be landscaped with plants that are both drought-tolerant and capable of surviving in seawater should the area flood again.
Haven Plaza, which is owned by Haven Plaza Square, an affiliate of the Association of New York Catholic Homes and the New York Institute for Human Development, includes 371 affordable rental units across its 460,000-sf complex. Upgrades to these existing buildings include raising many elements of the electrical system, upgrading the elevator systems in the three high-rises with flood sensors, and installing new wiring and platforms for portable power generators in all three buildings.