An innovative solution to replacing a boiler
This four-building complex of 21-story residential towers, which opened in 1966, needed a new boiler. The question was where to put it. A prior energy and resiliency report recommended installing a new boiler on each of the four towers’ roofs. But limited structural capacity made this is impossible. Also ruled out was a new boiler room each in the four buildings’ basements due to the foundation type and depth.
The solution was a single boiler in a new, underground, waterproof vault under the complex’s central courtyard. We’ve designed the 5,600 sf plant, keeping in mind poor soil conditions and a high water table. It had to be completely water tight and flood resilient, resist buoyancy effects and, once complete, not impact the courtyard either visually or spatially. The only sign of its presence are an egress stair tower and ventilation shafts which extend upwards above the flood plain.
The complex will remain occupied throughout construction with provisions for pedestrian access throughout the courtyard. While the structural design was relatively standard, the construction of a new underground plant is atypical because of Manhattan space limitations and logistics. The project needed approval from the office of NYC Department of City Planning to show that the complex’s open space requirements were met.