Prefab lifeguard and comfort stations on New York beaches will open by Memorial Day

© James Garrison Architect

TreeHugger visits New York during Design Week, catching the International Contemporary Furniture Fair,(ICFF) Wanted Design, and other exhibits and activities.

Superstorm Sandy washed away the lifeguard stations and washrooms on the many beaches around New York City. The season really starts on Memorial Day and the beaches can't operate without them. A lot of design sites have shown the Jim Garrison-designed prefabs, and attracted comments like " Are you kidding, ready by Memorial Day? The construction workers laugh when you ask them for the ETA"

It looks like those skeptics are about to be proven wrong.

constructionLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

David Burney, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design & Construction, spoke at the Modular Construction Summit at Pratt School of Architecture on May 16. (that's him in the lower right corner). He described how the normal development process of designing and producing projects like this in New York City would take four years; he had five months.

ramps© James garrison Architects

Burney went to Jim Garrison of Garrison Architects to design it in a hurry. Garrison writes: writes on his site:

In order to meet such an aggressive design and construction schedule the buildings and their components are designed as a system of modular elements… Three types of structures will be constructed including lifeguard stations, comfort stations and offices. Each module is 15 feet wide and 12 feet high, 57 or 47 feet long fitting within interstate shipping limits.

frameWe build the city/Public Domain

Usually in a city like New York, just the approvals could take more than five months. Burney brought everyone into the same room and got the different departments to buy in at the beginning and even help refine the designs.

We were able to do this in a a timely fashion for the beach, bring everyone into one room and get instant approval. We had the inspectors in the room for the design process.

installationWe Build The City/Public Domain

Because the building is constructed offsite, it could be made while the foundation piles were installed and the services were being led to the sites; all the work could go on simultaneously, the only way this kind of deadline could be met. Morgan Clendaniel described them in FastCoExist:

Garrison’s designs for new lifeguard stations, comfort stations, and beach offices include a number of features that make them both flood-resistant and sustainable: they’re elevated above the new FEMA storm surge numbers, and they rely on photovoltaics, solar hot water heating, and skylight ventilators as part of a net-zero energy system. The wood siding was salvaged from boardwalks wiped out by Sandy.

installedWe Build the city /Public Domain

And in answer to all those skeptics who said it couldn't be done, Burney says there will be 19 of them open by the Memorial Day Weekend.

Follow the construction at the New York City Department of Design and Construction Tumblr.

Prefab lifeguard and comfort stations on New York beaches will open by Memorial Day
They have done in five months what normally times four years, in a process that should be a model for how it's done.

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