Battery Park City Kowsky Plaza Vaults
location: New York, NY
client: Battery Park City Authority
date: 2017
contact: hMa hanrahanMeyers architects

For this project, Hanrahan Meyers architects (hMa) with Thornton Tomasetti (Structural Engineers) and Cosentini Associates (Mechanical Engineers) designed two above-ground structures to house relocated electrical and mechanical equipment that service the North Cove Marina and Police Memorial Monument after the original underground vaults were flooded during Hurricane Sandy. This storm remediation and hardening project is the first of it its kind to be completed in the Battery Park City neighborhood. Electrical service was originally supplied to these three outdoor areas by two below-grade electrical vaults that were flooded and made inoperable by Hurricane Sandy. This project restores electrical service to this 3 acre area by creating two new above-grade electrical vaults overlooking the Police Memorial itself.

Given the sensitive nature of the site, the strong desire to minimize harm to existing trees and plants and the highly visible building site, enormous attention was paid to the design of these vaults as well as the integration of the new forms into the existing network of outdoor spaces. The vaults were also designed to withstand another hurricane and to conform to the highest standards of hurricane resiliency. This was accomplished by raising all connections up to the 500 year flood line with equipment mounted higher still, although none of the electrical equipment is installed higher than seven feet above upper Kowsky Plaza, creating a challenging and compressed “horizon” zone where equipment could be installed.

The final design incorporates all of these requirements into inventive buildings that form new spatial connections between the three outdoor areas where none previously existed. Each vault is approximately 400 sf and constructed of 12 inch thick concrete walls and floors. The concrete is clad in a wood rainscreen up to the top of the seven foot high concrete wall. Above these walls a clerestory of glass and steel posts supports a curved laminated wood structure with a stainless steel roof. At night the wood beams and ceiling are illuminated from below and are visible through the clerestory, creating a new beacon for the area. An outdoor stair between the two vaults connects Kowsky Plaza to the Police memorial and the North Cove. The stair itself is designed as a seating area inviting people to linger and enjoy the framed views of the North Cove.

Construction is scheduled to conclude in Summer 2017.