Public housing in Red Hook, Brooklyn enjoys a flood-resilient redevelopment that boosts the quality of life for 6000 people

In response to Superstorm Sandy, the architects at Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) worked with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to devise a resilience and renewal program for the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn.

The goal was to lessen the community’s vulnerability to natural disasters while improving the sustainability and quality of life of the 6000+ people living in development’s 28 buildings.

Making landfall in October 2012, the storm left thousands of Red Hook residents without power and access to food, supplies, and medical assistance for more than two weeks.

Built on reclaimed land near the water, the neighborhood’s infrastructure also suffered dramatically, with virtually all basement mechanical rooms destroyed.

KPF’s plan includes two freestanding buildings for above ground boilers that incorporate community amenities in their design. The West Plant features a planted roof, acting as a continuation of the adjacent public park, while the East Plant includes social spaces in addition to a translucent exterior.

Fourteen “utility pods” are dispersed across the campus to provide heat and electricity to the buildings, further decentralizing the infrastructure and decreasing the likelihood of widespread utility failure.

A major resilience component, the project’s “lily pad” concept, is a nonobtrusive landscape solution that provides flood protection for buildings and entrances. Raised earth at the center of internal courtyards offer permanent flood barriers to support a porous campus.

Low floodwalls that double as benches will automatically deploy in the event of high water. During normal weather, these elements transform the resident experience by providing vibrant, social spaces.

KPF’s approach to the project incorporated community input at every phase of design. Focus groups, interviews, surveys, design workshops, and update meetings brought vital, local knowledge into the design process, enabling a successful outcome for NYCHA’s largest redevelopment in the borough.

All images courtesy of KPF.

See NYCHA website.

See KPF website.

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