Hurricane Sandy made landfall with a thirteen foot storm surge and winds of over 80 miles per hour. It devastated the coastline of New York City and destroyed thousands of homes and other structures. While the event was catastrophic, it alerted the public to the urgency of building intelligently in flood zones and of designing to mitigate the causes and effects of global warming.
Among the structures destroyed were dozens of public lifeguard and comfort stations. As necessary facilities, they had to be replaced quickly and, given their vulnerability, they had to be capable of withstanding extreme storms. They also had to harmonize with the natural beauty of the ocean beaches.
Working with the New York City Parks Department and the Department of Design and Construction, Garrison Architects designed thirty-seven flood-proof structures that could be built and deployed within five months to fifteen sites, including Rockaway Beach, Coney Island, and Cedar Grove in Staten Island. To meet this aggressive schedule, each building was constructed as a factory-assembled module which could be installed with a minimum of disturbance to neighbors. With a common chassis, the modules could be modified for use as comfort stations, lifeguard stations and offices while meeting a variety of site conditions. Each was mounted atop concrete legs raising it above the five hundred-year flood level and was accessed by a series of ramps and landings made of aluminum gangplanks.
The post-Sandy beach structures embody our commitment to the environment around us. They will survive the next major ocean storm and, using photovoltaics and solar water heating, will produce enough renewable energy to meet their daily needs. Cross-ventilation keeps them naturally cool while skylights illuminate their interiors. Carefully located windows provide spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.