Inside Archtober “Building” of the Day #24: Subway Vent Benches

Monday, October 24, 2011
An MTA flood mitigation filter in Queens. (Courtesy Laura Ann Trimble/Center for Architecture)

An MTA flood mitigation filter in Queens. (Courtesy Laura Ann Trimble/Center for Architecture)

Even though Hurricane Irene blew through on August 27th without flooding the subways, which were rendered prophylactically still and silent for a day, a pesky summer storm in 2007 dumped so much water onto the M and R lines that they were forced out of service. Governor Spitzer took immediate action to mitigate the problem, and boldly mobilized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation to do something about it. Solving a range of engineering problems while at the same time providing a streetscape element with some wit and whimsy, Rogers Marvel Architects created banks of raised stainless steel grates that rise up into an undulating wave of slats and hammered speckled side walls.

Undulating detail.

Undulating detail.

There are three typical grates designed for specific water overflow depths. They can be combined in a left- or right-hand fashion to create the continuous surface over the structural grates below. In case you were wondering, they won’t stop a truck, but happily no Louboutin heels snapped off here!

The AIANY Design Awards jury liked it too, giving the project an Honor Award, citing: “This is a really utilitarian solution infused with public art and design innovation.”

For the info on the tour of tomorrow’s Building of the Day click here: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture.


One Response to “Inside Archtober “Building” of the Day #24: Subway Vent Benches”

  1. PaulCJr says:

    While a great idea. The designer forgot that water just doesn’t pour into the subway as a result of the run off from the sidewalk. Rain also falls into the subway directly from the sky. The subway needs a raised grate cover, but those grate covers need to be covered themselves that keeps rain out but allows heat to escape the tunnels. Good idea, but not thought about holistically.

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