Organization Name: New York City Housing Authority
Project Title: Coney Island Houses
Project Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, over 400 occupied buildings on NYCHA developments were without electricity, heat, or hot water. After the storm, NYCHA was tasked with the monumental goal of repairing 33 damaged developments housing 60,000 residents and building them back stronger and more resilient. With a vast scope of work ranging from new boilers and roofs to the implementation of new security systems and full-power backup generators, NYCHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience (R+R) manages the workload related to the developments impacted by Sandy and also works to prepare NYCHA to evolve with the increasingly complex resiliency challenges impacting coastal cities worldwide. NYCHA is creating a new standard for resilient design and construction.
Coney Island Houses is so close to the ocean that it shares one side with the boardwalk. When Superstorm Sandy hit, the cellar spaces of the 5 fourteen-story buildings on site were completely inundated with water, including the site’s central boilers, which failed. The development has been using temporary boilers since then. The recovery and resilience scope is comprehensive and includes: full roof replacement; restoration of damaged playgrounds, surfaces, and fencing; replacement of underground conduits and site lighting; stairwell lighting; replacement of flooded mechanical and electrical equipment with installation in new raised ancillary structures; and full back-up stand-by generator systems to ensure buildings are powered without interruption. Additionally, the new boiler structure’s height above the design flood elevation accounting for sea level rise incorporates a space for a community facility that will become a permanent amenity for the residents of the development.
NYCHA’s R+R works closely with residents and other stakeholders to get feedback on design and to provide regular updates on recovery activities and project schedules. At Coney Island Houses, the new boiler structure needed to be centrally located to most efficiently serve the development. Due to spatial constraints, the building would need to be located between existing buildings. The final location was decided upon collaboratively through careful planning, engineering, and community input. NYCHA residents were presented the pros and cons of 2 viable options for the structure’s location. The first option impacted a highly trafficked seating space, but provided a constructability advantage since it could be tied into an existing boiler flue. The second option preserved the seating area, but would have been more costly, resulting in less funding for improve- ments. Ultimately, the residents chose to give up their seating area and have NYCHA replace it at the back of the new structure.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the largest residential landlord in North America housing over 600,000 residents through public housing and the Section 8 leased housing program. It provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the 5 boroughs. Simultaneously, NYCHA works to enhance quality of life by offering residents opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational, and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives. NYCHA is implementing a 10-year strategic plan, NextGeneration NYCHA, to change how it is funded, operates, rebuilds, and engages with residents with the goal of improving quality of life for its residents through the creation of safe, clean and connected communities and ensuring public housing for generations to come.