Rising up to take on climate change in New York

Planned after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, new building design in the city of skyscrapers adapts to threats from weather patterns.

March 27, 2017 01:42 am | Updated 01:43 am IST - New York

The New York City skyline. United States remains one of the most popular countries for business travel from India.

The New York City skyline. United States remains one of the most popular countries for business travel from India.

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, paralysing the U.S. financial capital for days.

JDS, the company developing the American Copper Buildings, bought the land for the project around the same time.

Tools to survive

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.

“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.

Every kitchen has two electrical outlets, connected to a back-up circuit fed by the generators. The main entrance hall is large and austere, with steel pillars and floor tiling designed for outside use. Wood-panelled walls warm the atmosphere — but the open side panels can dry easily with no damage in the event of flooding.

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