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How the American Copper Buildings, along the East River, will coast through future storms

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The New York Times got a peek at the buildings’ innovative storm resiliency measures

Photos by Max Touhey

The SHoP-designed bendy, copper-clad rental towers in Kips Bay that overlook the East River are just a month away from welcoming their first residents, and now, not a moment too soon for many reasons, The New York Times has done a deep dive into how the 48- and 41-story buildings will hold up in future storms that hit New York City.

It’s the first project the paper is looking at in a series about how NYC buildings are adapting to climate change. In the coming weeks, The Times will examine a series of buildings across the city and highlight how they’ve uniquely incorporated resiliency into their designs—particularly on how they will face floods and high winds.

Now back to the American Copper Buildings. By the time the developer, JDS, had acquired the property in 2013, an eight-foot deep excavated pit at the site was full of water in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to The Times. The architects and the developers knew they had to do something radically different to fortify the building. Here now is a list of the measures they’ve taken to secure the development for future tenants.

  • What could have been a gajillion-dollar penthouse on the 48th floor of the north tower is actually a space for five emergency generators. During an outage, the generators will power the buildings’ eight passenger elevators, two freight elevators, the refrigerator in each of the buildings’ 760 apartments, one power outlet in each apartment, lights in hallways and staircases, and water pumps.
  • The generators are powered by natural gas, and don’t depend on deliveries from fuel trucks which could get stranded during a major storm.
  • Post-Sandy, the city required that buildings’ mechanical systems be installed about one or two feet higher than the highest expected flooding area. The architects have taken an extra precautionary step and placed the mechanicals on the second floor of the American Copper Buildings.
  • The architects have also devised a way to collect and dispose storm water. They designed an 18-inch-deep gravel bed placed between two concrete slabs under the basement of the building. Here’s where the water will be collected and disposed of through pipes going through the gravel.

JDS hasn’t revealed an exact opening date in February yet, but according to The Times over a 1,000 people have shown interest in the market-rate apartments, and the development received 79,000 applications for its affordable apartments.

American Copper Buildings

626 1st Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10016 Visit Website