Rooftop photo showcasing the MTA New York City Transit Fan Plant 7204 design.

MTA New York City Transit Fan Plant 7204

CREATIVE DESIGN BOOSTS RESILIENCY FOR CRITICAL SUBWAY INFRASTRUCTURE WHILE IMPROVING NEIGHBORHOOD AESTHETICS

A retrofit of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) Fan Plant (FP) 7204, extensively damaged by Hurricane Sandy, provided resiliency of essential infrastructure so it could withstand a future major storm. Innovative design solutions combined structural logic with contextual sensitivity, creating an aesthetically appealing structure integrated seamlessly into the surrounding community.

Fan plants are critical components of the New York City subway system, providing passive ventilation by enabling the piston action of moving trains to pull fresh air down into the tunnels below. In addition, in the event of a fire in the tunnels, the plants’ massive fans serve to draw smoke out, giving people time to escape. FP 7204 also serves as an emergency egress for the public, providing an escape route from the tunnels during an emergency event. Overcoming numerous site constraints and technical challenges, a design team led by Gannett Fleming delivered significant upgrades to FP 7204 that achieved all resiliency requirements. The effort was completed with minimal disruption to subway operations while enhancing the quality of life for local neighborhood residents.

What We Did

Retrofit design added a second floor to the existing fan plant building and raised its louvers above flood elevation. A transformer building was built on top of an existing concrete pad, and the facility’s key components were protected with a floodwall. The team carefully designed an exoskeletal frame of steel around the two buildings to meet flood load requirements while supporting new construction. Massive flood doors protect openings against flooding; flood logs were designed for interior electrical distribution rooms to provide a secondary level of protection. Taken together, the solutions used both passive and deployable features to provide comprehensive flood protection that effectively protects it from storm surge damage.

Because the above-ground plant is highly visible, a key design goal was to enhance its appearance and improve neighborhood aesthetics. Designers selected a perforated metal exterior cladding to express a light, airy structure. Keen attention to the cladding details, allowing views through the corners, lends an ethereal quality to the building. The granite base demarcates the flood-proof wall that surrounds the base. Given the close proximity of the facility’s two buildings, the fan plant and transformer building, the designers sought to create a formal dialogue between the two structures.

Key Features

  • Exoskeletal steel frame supports new construction and enables functional and visually appealing exterior design.
  • Passive and deployable features provide comprehensive flood protection that meets all MTA NYCT requirements.
  • New acoustically baffled louvers mitigate noise issues to enhance neighborhood livability.
  • Distinctive cable bridge forms a canopy for the plant entranceway and carries utilities between the new structures well above flood elevation.

Awards & Recognition

  • Gold Award, 2022, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) New York, Engineering Excellence Awards.

Outcomes

  • Protection against damage from a Category 2 storm surge plus 3 feet.
  • Ventilation and emergency smoke removal for subway system.
  • Enhanced neighborhood aesthetics and quality of life.

CLIENT

Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit

LOCATION

Long Island City, N.Y.

ROLE

Design

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