New York skyscraper to adapt to climate change
With a skyline crowded with ever-more luxury towers, the construction of another Manhattan skyscraper wouldn’t normally be remarkable.
But the American Copper Buildings going up on the East River — a complex of two towers with 764 apartments, panoramic views and a huge entrance hall with a doorman — is different.
Planned just after deadly Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York in October 2012 — sounding another alarm about the mounting effects of climate change — it was designed with new threats in mind, reflecting how the real estate world is evolving to account for global warming, in contrast to President Donald Trump’s moves to roll back environmental protection.
The huge storm killed more than 40 people in New York, paralyzing the US financial capital for days.
JDS, the company developing the American Copper Buildings, bought the land for the project around the same time.
“The whole thing was a lake, we could have toured the site in a canoe,” said Simon Koster, a principal at the company.
“We knew something like that would happen again,” he added. “So we said, ‘How can we make sure that if we lived here, we will not be facing that scenario?’ So we let the designers loose.”
One of the main innovations was to ensure residents have access to electricity as long as possible in the event of an outage in the city.
Instead of planning an opulent penthouse on the top floor, the architects reserved space for big natural-gas generators designed to keep key equipment functioning if the power fails.
Although the machines are situated “in the most valuable real estate of this building,” Koster said, “it makes all the other units all the more valuable.”
“We are going to have more of these events, it’s just being strategic and smart about how you prepare for them,” architect Gregg Pasquarelli said.
“If we lose power, if you can go up and down in the elevator and your refrigerator works and you have one outlet available that you charge your phone on, you can probably survive in New York for a week,” he added.