/ Featured / Haven Plaza Square LLC, Association of New York Catholic Homes, New York Institute for Human Development, CTA Architects, and The Wavecrest Management Team Break Ground for a New Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure Building and Other Upgrades at Manhattan’s Haven Plaza Affordable Housing Complex

Haven Plaza Square LLC, Association of New York Catholic Homes, New York Institute for Human Development, CTA Architects, and The Wavecrest Management Team Break Ground for a New Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure Building and Other Upgrades at Manhattan’s Haven Plaza Affordable Housing Complex

Parul Dubey on June 6, 2017 - in Featured, News, Projects

Despite its utilitarian function, CTA Architects designed the new $9.89 million Haven Plaza Resiliency Building to be visually attractive by incorporating interesting architectural details into the concrete structure, such as a fully glazed front façade and vertical concrete fins.

Rendering courtesy of CTA Architects

New York, NY–Haven Plaza Square LLC, an affiliate of the Association of New York Catholic Homes and the New York Institute for Human Development (IHD); CTA Architects; and the managing agent The Wavecrest Management Team have just broken ground for an architecturally attractive $9.89 million natural disaster-resistant infrastructure building and associated resiliency upgrades at the affordable housing complex known as Haven Plaza. Haven Plaza Square LLC is the owner of the residential complex located on Avenue C between 10th and 13th Streets on Manhattan’s east side.


This new two-story structure plus basement and the upgrades throughout the complex are in direct response to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, when the nearby East River overflowed its banks, the Con Edison East River Generating Station adjacent to Haven Plaza exploded, and, as a result, Haven Plaza lost all electricity and steam for heat. Residents – many elderly – were trapped without elevator service, electricity, heat, or water. Men and women of the National Guard shared their field rations with residents until the power returned.


The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) awarded nearly $10 million to Haven Plaza Square LLC for the project through the New York City Build It Back program.


Build It Back was launched in 2013 to assist homeowners, landlords, and tenants in the five boroughs whose homes and properties were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It was designed to support those whose needs were not met by the City’s Rapid Repairs program, New York State-sponsored buyouts, private insurance reimbursements, or federal loans. The funds for Build It Back, including those for the new Haven Plaza building, were provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program.


“We look forward to the completion of the new infrastructure building. It will provide our residents with security and comfort in case of a disaster. It will also lower our heating costs, while tremendously improving the architecture of the entire property,” said Reverend Monsignor Kevin J. Nelan, President of Haven Plaza Square and Pastor at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Manhattan’s East Village.

“Haven Plaza’s return and its resiliency upgrades demonstrate the importance of investing in infrastructure and housing. We must continue to oppose efforts by the Administration to reduce or zero out funding for federal programs that support innovative projects like these,” added U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY).


“The new 2,080-square foot building, located at 212 Avenue C at East 13th Street, will house three boilers for heating steam on the second level, with gas as the primary fuel; electrical meters, domestic hot water pumps, and hot water heaters on the first level; and oil backup storage in the protected sub-grade space,” explained CTA Architects principal Daniel J. Allen, AIA. “The new facility addresses Haven Plaza’s need to be self-sufficient during both regular operations and in case of a natural disaster, instead of relying on a costly ConEd steam supply. We also wanted the new structure to be architecturally attractive due to its visibility on a high-trafficked location within Manhattan’s popular East Village neighborhood. The front façade will be glazed to allow the passers-by to view the inner works of the building and equipment within,” he continued.


Haven Plaza was built in 1968 as part of New York City’s initiative to combat urban blight. The 460,000-square foot complex has 371 affordable rental units. Haven Plaza consists of three high-rise buildings, a two-story building with 11 townhomes, and a 185-car garage. The complex also houses a supermarket and a medical services facility.


Haven Plaza Square commissioned CTA, which has completed many projects at Haven Plaza over the past 14 years, to perform a resiliency study shortly after Hurricane Sandy. CTA, which has significant experience in infrastructure and building services planning, organized an experienced architectural and engineering team that recommended the building of a new, dedicated heating plant for the complex, in order to eliminate the need to rely on ConEd. The team included the structural engineer Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineering; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineer Collado Engineering; geotechnical engineer Langan; and civil engineer Cameron Engineering & Associates. The general contractor for the new building and upgrades is ICS Builders, Inc.


CTA wanted the new building to be more than a utilitarian “box.” Thus, they incorporated interesting architectural details into the concrete structure. As CTA principal Craig Tooman, AIA, LEED AP explained, “We specified three poured-concrete columns that expand vertically throughout the height of the building, for visual impact. They take the form of ‘fins.’ In addition, the wall facing west toward Avenue C will be completely glazed, enabling passers-by, especially curious children, to get a glimpse of the equipment and operations within. This is quite unusual, as most such utility and disaster-mitigation structures are designed strictly for function. We hail our client Haven Plaza Square for realizing that the visibility of the location calls for a strong architectural presence.” When complete, the building will incorporate 1,300 square feet of glazed curtain wall, 1,500 square feet of metal façade panels, and 500 square feet of green wall.


Initial Review and Design Options

CTA and the engineering team’s first order of business was to perform a review and create a report with several options at different price points and technical solutions.


“The tactic proposed was the wet flood protection method. This approach focuses on individually protecting utilities and building systems rather than attempting to secure the entire campus. This proved to be the most realistic solution, and the one CTA recommended to, and was accepted by the ownership,” explained CTA Project Manager Timothy Jagisch.

Design challenges have included finding the right location for the new building in order to relocate the electrical and heat/steam boiler plant within a dense urban environment. The team found and settled on an unused corner space that had no playground, green space, or benches on which to put the new structure.


The team had to coordinate with and attain approvals from multiple city agencies, including the New York City Department of Buildings and others that served as a conduit for post-Sandy relief federal funds. In addition, the Department of City Planning performed an extensive review and approved the project. Community Board 3 (CB3) holds jurisdiction and was therefore involved as well.


The New Building

The site for the new building is a heretofore-unused plot of land. The side wall of the new structure will be adjacent to the wall of the existing garage, with another side being adjacent to an elevated plaza leading to one of the buildings on the side facing the river. CTA has specified a green wall next to the elevated plaza. This green wall system will be composed of a vertical metal grid support system for vines, which will allow plants from the adjacent plaza to extend to the wall of the new building. The underlying metal rope lattice system was designed by CTA from commercially available components.  The 13th Street side of the building will feature a metal panel system in different shades of green to reflect the colors of plants and vines to be planted around the building.


The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) raised the 100-year flood line in Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy. The new building’s first floor will be one foot above the base flood elevation and six feet above ground level.


The facility will feature poured-concrete floors with structural poured-concrete walls that allow for a column-free space inside. This was imperative in order to accommodate the large equipment. The foundation system will incorporate 15 100-ton-capacity poured-concrete underground pilings, which are necessary due to the low bearing quality of the soil. Specifically, that part of the East Village is located on a filled-in swamp. The pilings will feature caps, which will support the concrete floor slab on the first floor.


The three vertical concrete “fins” that run perpendicular to Avenue C are not only decorative; they will play a structural role as well. Working as columns, they will support the concrete slabs, lift the entire structure above the flood plain, and allow for the fully glazed facade along the avenue. The location of the site’s underground utilities, which have to be protected, dictated the fins’ size and placement. The new structure was purposely designed to be visually different from the surrounding buildings. It is meant to provide a strong architectural statement without directly relating to the buildings already on the site. 


“Concrete-slab ceilings were designed without the typical concrete drop-ceiling beams for easier installation of ducts and other infrastructure,” said CTA’s Senior Architectural Technician, Tamera Talbert. There will be a below-grade oil tank room with oil as a backup fuel for the steam system. The tank will be waterproofed to prevent any interruption of the system in case of a flood. The first floor will house hot water heaters and electrical meters. The second floor will house three boilers for heat steam. The roof will be shallow pitch with waterproofing membrane.


CTA wanted to design the building in such a way as to continue to accommodate open outdoor space. Therefore, they left a courtyard in the back and “pulled away” the new building from the adjacent buildings to provide additional open space around it. At the same time, the landscaping around and on the building will become an important part of the finished structure. The building itself will “float” five feet above ground as a flood-mitigation measure, so the team specified landscaping all around the concrete base to

hide it as well as to make the building appear lighter. Sea grass and brush-type plants – both drought-tolerant and capable of surviving saltwater in case of another East River flood – will be used extensively. An automated watering system will supply water to the plants at the base as well as the vines of the green wall.


“The energy-efficient lighting system will feature all LED fixtures and will include outside lighting at the base of the perimeter to highlight the building’s architecture at night. Inside, all lighting will be LED and has been configured to be not only utilitarian but to give the equipment a strong presence to passersby,” added Talbert.


Upgrades to Existing Buildings

To keep the rest of the complex safe during a flood, CTA’s plans call for upgrades to the existing structures to protect utilities and building systems. In particular, many elements of the electrical system will be elevated. Currently, many electrical components are located on the first floor of the buildings. These will be moved to higher elevations. For example, wall-mounted electrical equipment will be moved higher on the walls.  Concrete platforms will be built for the larger equipment installed on floors. All equipment will be installed at least one foot above the new FEMA flood plain.


In the townhouses, the electrical meters are currently located at a central below-grade meter room. All meters will be relocated to the new building and installed there. For the three high-rises, all elevator systems will be upgraded as well. According to Jagisch, “Each elevator shaft will have a flood sensor; once the sensor detects water, the cabin will automatically move to a higher elevation. Tenants will be able to use the elevators once the water recedes. This will eliminate the cost of renovating or replacing the cabins after a flood.” Electrical work will also include installing new wiring and platforms for portable power generators in all three buildings to be brought in in case of emergency to supply electricity to the building, including for lights and elevators.


Haven Plaza Square LLC

Haven Plaza Square LLC, led by Monsignor Kevin J. Nelan, is the owner of the Haven Plaza complex, including the new infrastructure building. In 2012, the organization completed a five-year, $50 million rehabilitation of the Haven Plaza development.


The Association of New York Catholic Homes and the New York Institute for Human Development

The Association of New York Catholic Homes, which oversees Haven Plaza Square, protects, supports, and preserves independent parish-based affordable housing corporations sponsored within the Archdiocese of New York and creates opportunities for the development of new affordable housing in the Diocese. The Institute of Human Development (IHD) is a not for profit organization affiliated with the Association of New York Catholic Homes, which provides technical assistance to affordable housing properties affiliated with or being developed by Catholic Homes. Since 2006, IHD has rehabilitated 2,200 affordable housing units within the Archdiocese of New York, at a cost of $300 million.


CTA Architects

Established in 1987, CTA Architects is a prominent architectural design firm based in New York City.  Four principals lead the 47-person firm: G. Douglas Cutsogeorge, AIA; Craig Tooman, AIA, LEED AP; Daniel J. Allen, AIA; and Christa E. Waring, AIA, LEED AP.


CTA’s design focus and experience span new design, historic preservation, and restoration work in the multi-family residential, commercial, institutional, educational, and public markets. The firm holds term contracts with the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA), the New York State Office of General Services (OGS), the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC), and the City University of New York (CUNY).


CTA’s recent projects in New York City include the rehabilitations of the Grand Street Guild, Haven Plaza, and George Hardy and St. Francis apartment complexes totaling 1,175 units for the Archdiocese of New York; the exterior renovation of the six-building Morningside Gardens co-op campus; the restoration of the Irish Hunger Memorial; the historic landmark restorations of the 36 Gramercy Park East façade and the City Cinemas Village East Theater; five Universal Pre-Kindergarten schools for the NYC SCA; exterior renovations to the Fifth Avenue Armory; and design work the Coney Island Prep, Harlem Village Academy, and Growing Up Green School. The studio’s new design work includes SARA NY Design Award winner 17 Pitt Street, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and two recently completed additions at the Bronx Charter School for Excellence, which included a new seven-story tower.


The firm’s projects also include the exterior renovations to the New York State Legislature Building in Albany, NY; and a large-scale, six-building residential rehabilitation and conversion as well as an adaptive re-use of the historic Arcade Hotel in Bridgeport, CT’s Downtown South Historic District.


CTA’s work has been widely recognized through regional and national awards, including the Exterior Preservation Award from Landmark West!, Residential Architect Design Award of Merit, The Society of American Registered Architects National and New York Chapters’ Design Awards, several Lucy G. Moses preservation awards from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Victorian Society of America Metropolitan Chapter Preservation Awards.


The Wavecrest Management Team

The Wavecrest Management Team Ltd. is a full-service property management team, which began operations in 1979. Wavecrest manages approximately 18,250 units in more than 300 buildings in the New York metropolitan area. The firm’s specialty is management of affordable rental housing, including HUD Project Based Section 8 and tax credit properties, and cooperative and condominium developments.


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