In the last few years, several devastating storms have demonstrated the dramatic impacts that rising sea levels and storm surges can have on construction including, industrial and commercial buildings. A building that may be resilient to storm damage is not necessarily able to stay fully operational and functional throughout the storm and its overwhelming aftermath.
The tasks of designing and managing buildings that are resilient to stormwater present several challenges. Traditionally, mechanical, electrical and plumbing/fire protection (MEP/FP) services enter a building via below-grade service rooms. This makes efficient use of less-valuable basement and garage space while also enabling services to tie directly into underground utility connections. Unfortunately as a result of these connections many of these services become more vulnerable to flooding.
The DiGeronimo team of architects and engineers worked with the Unicef high rise building corporate owner to bring the mechanical / electrical equipment to a higher floor. By utilizing this approach, the first use-able floor was on a higher floor but allowed the corporation to have control against storm surge penetration and gain continuous uninterrupted use of the building. Additional Facade changes were also included such as removing windows and vents in those areas that are likely to see water penetration along the lower building area.
As with any decision that affects a building, the location of utilities to mitigate effects from flooding and other severe weather events requires collaboration in order to develop cost-effective, creative solutions that protect critical systems.