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New looks at KPF’s resilient Red Hook utility pods

The pods will help keep Red Hook Houses powered up during the next Hurricane Sandy

Conceptual renderings of the utility pods.
Kohn Pedersen Fox

Brooklyn’s Red Hook Houses are about to become much more storm resilient—not to mention more architecturally savvy. More conceptual renderings of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s utility pods, commissioned by the New York City Housing Authority to protect its largest public housing development against the next superstorm, have been making their rounds after a feature in Architect’s Newspaper (h/t 6sqft).

The pods, of which there will be 14, will serve as backup power hubs and power distribution centers, as well as places for new retail stores, for 28 of the development’s buildings. The pods will help provide 6,000 residents across 2,873 apartments with heat and electricity on the occasion of the next debilitating storm to affect NYC’s low-lying neighborhoods (because we know it’s going to happen.)

They utility pods will also provide some much-needed public greenery through KPF’s design collaboration with landscape architecture firm OLIN. A KPF press release explains:

The additional Lily Pad scheme provides permanent flood barriers in the form of raised earth at the center of internal courtyards and an active flood wall supplemented by passive barriers. These elements transform the experience of residents and guests by providing vibrant, social spaces in conjunction with the area’s infrastructural needs.

The project was spurred into action by Hurricane Sandy, which left Red Hook Houses without power and heat for weeks, and without water for days, according to the New York Rising Community Construction Plan. Funding for the project comes from FEMA—a good thing, considering NYCHA’s budget woes—which allocated $438 million for repairs to the housing complex after Hurricane Sandy.

The utility pods garnered a Merit award for Urban Design in this year’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York chapter awards, joining the ranks of Studio V Architecture andKen Smith Workshop’s design for Greenpoint’s Maker Park and DLANDstudio’s Sponge Park in Gowanus.