Bernard M. Baruch Houses – the largest New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) development in Manhattan – is comprised of 18 residential towers housing over 5,600 residents. Completed in 1959, the 28-acre campus occupies prime real estate in the now-burgeoning Lower East Side.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Nelligan White was asked by NYCHA to evaluate the long-term resilience of Baruch Houses. This project would set a standard for improving organizational and maintenance plans for NYCHA’s building portfolio. Furthermore, Nelligan White was also tasked with the responsibility of creating design solutions to make Baruch Houses more flood-resistant.
Several building elements were integral to the project’s energy performance and resiliency goals. Efficient and responsive power production was key to this project. Additionally, utilizing on-site resources was also essential. Lastly, this project included an analysis of how the site and its community center could better provide emergency services in storm events. This analysis became central to the design strategy.
To address these goals, our architectural plans included a new elevated central heating plant and outbuildings with an electrical backup generation system. This system supports the entire campus and enables the site to go off-grid during peak usage. The design also includes new entry plazas, renovated lobbies, campus-wide LED site lighting, security upgrades, and the reorganization of common spaces. These upgrades comport with NYCHA’s resiliency goals for buildings located within the FEMA A-zone. Buildings in these zones are particularly vulnerable as they have a 26% chance of experiencing a flood event over a 30-year lifespan.