Oculus - Fall 2013 - (Page 40)
Shoring Up for the Future
Architects rapidly replace beach structures battered by Hurricane
Sandy with buildings strong enough to withstand a superstorm
B Y C L A I R E WILS O N
t was around Christmas last year when the call went out: New York City
public beaches needed new facilities at 15 beach locations to replace the
ones lost to Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Another three or four that
survived the storm in the Rockaways needed to be refurbished, with access to
them reconfigured to make up for the boardwalk that washed away. The structures also had to be strong enough to endure the next superstorm.
And you want that when? Memorial Day. As in next Memorial Day. 2013.
Five months later, many were installed and open for business. Sage and
Coombe Architects turned three battered buildings into bright, efficient
comfort stations and lifeguard and maintenance facilities that act as colorful markers guiding bathers to the beach from the road. Garrison Architects
devised stainless-steel prefabricated modules, perched high over the sand or
boardwalk on networks of legs, stairs, and ramps that break away in a storm
and leave the buildings unscathed. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
designed beach plantings and restored picnic areas for all sites.
Five months was short, but no one is surprised it got done. There was no
time or room for politics with such a tight deadline and everyone on the same
page. The pressure was extreme; the process was described as “collegial,” propelled forward by “the will to get this done,” according to Jennifer Sage, AIA,
LEED AP, principal, Sage and Coombe.
But was it inherently political? Yes, says Jim Garrison, AIA, principal,
Garrison Architects, who had people living at the factory to make sure all the
pods got finished on time. “It is testament to an enlightened city government
that takes public design very seriously,” he says. “We have a city that understands the value of these things, and that is political.”
Garrison knew prefab was the way to go, intending that the 35 units be
delivered from Deluxe Building Systems, Berwick, PA, by flatbed truck. That
plan was scrapped, however, when completed units were found to be too
heavy for road permits. At 120,000 pounds each, they were delivered to Newark, floated on barges to their destinations, and hoisted into place on legs that
put them 18 feet above sea level, and above the 500-year flood level.
The modular units, each 12 feet high and 47 or
57 feet long, are distributed among 15 locations in
Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Staten Island.
Two units make up most installations, which
provide restroom facilities and lifeguard stations
with a few maintenance and operations offices in
the mix. A bridge links the two units; one side is
accessible via staircase, the other via ramp so it is
100% ADA accessible.
The exterior is sand-blasted steel coated with saltwater-resistant finishes to prevent rust. The buildings
have natural lighting and ventilation via skylights
and windows, and there are photovoltaic panels on
the roof. Inside are yellow, blue, and green recycled
glass tiles; ceramic tiles; and non-slip flooring.
Pentagram Design did the brushed-aluminum
ladies/gents graphics for the modular restrooms,
and also created a comprehensive new signage program for all city beaches. This proved particularly
important for the Rockaways where the boardwalk
was destroyed, taking all bathers’ visual references
with it. Each bright new vertical sign tells bathers
exactly where they are – Beach 97th Street in the
Rockaways or Cedar Grove Beach on Staten Island,
for example – with a sunny photograph of the exact
locale. At points where bathers can safely access
the beach, the signs are placed atop bright yellow
stanchions that once held the boardwalk. The color
distinguishes safe entry points from the rest of the
empty stanchions, which will eventually be covered
by protective dunes.
©Arch Photo, Inc.
Garrison Architects designed a series of stainless-steel prefabricated modules, perched high over
the sand or boardwalks on networks of legs, stairs, and ramps at 15 locations in Coney Island, the
Rockaways, and Staten Island.
Oculus Fall 2013
Politics = Architecture
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2013
Letter from the President
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: The City More Beautiful
Affordable Housing in 2013: Communities, Not Containers
The Future of Prefab
From Ports to Parks: New York’s Waterfront Wager
East River Magic
Shoring Up for the Future
FAR ROC Rocks!
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2013