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Public Safety Answering Center II

The new LEED Gold Public Safety Answering Center II, by SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, provides strengthened 911 services within a resilient and sustainable structure. The building is crucial to maintaining the safety of all New Yorkers. Known as PSAC II, which opened last June in the Bronx. The 450,000-sf facility, sitting on 8.75 acres along the Hutchinson River and Pelham Parkways, supplements PSAC I, located at the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. The newer facility is set up to handle more than 11 million emergency 911 calls annually to the city’s police and fire departments.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-02-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

As tall as a 24-story building, the cube-like PSAC II is a fortress protected by 15-inch-thick concrete walls, with a relatively limited number of windows for an edifice this size: 77 4×10-foot openings and 54 4×20-foot openings. There’s only one window on the west side of the facility, facing a train station. The main building’s overall window-to-wall ratio is 4%.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-04-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

Prominently located along the Hutchinson River Parkway and Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, this facility will augment existing 911 services in New York, strengthening the city’s ability to maintain communication in the event of a natural disaster or large-scale emergency. The center is designed to operate continually under adverse conditions and provide redundancy to the city’s primary call center.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-05-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

Blast-resistant structure is a perfect cube, with minimal windows due to security concerns. To mitigate the structure’s monolithic appearance, SOM gave it a serrated facade made of recycled aluminum, providing both dynamism and asymmetry. The 9-acre site features a wrap-around sculptural berm of wild grasses. The berm helps protect the building without being oppressively defensive.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-07-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka


Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-08-Albert-Vecerka-759x413 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

Inside, the lobby and cafeteria areas feature a green wall that helps create a soothing environment for stressful call takers. It also acts as a natural air filter, drawing toxins and improving overall indoor air quality. Designed to achieve LEED® Gold certification, the project’s other sustainable strategies include recycled building materials and reduced water use for irrigation.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-11-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka


Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-14-NYC-DCC-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© New York City Department of Design and Construction

Sustainable features include drought-resistant landscaping, which uses less potable water for the site irrigation; low-flow fixtures and stormwater collection for toilet use, which conserves potable water throughout the building; and low-emitting materials which help maintain healthy interior air quality. An “Active Modular Phytoremediation System” (AMPS) green feature wall in the building lobby uses plant material to filter and clean the air, and provide a more relaxing environment for the staff.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-17-NYC-DCC-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© New York City Department of Design and Construction


Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-21-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill:

Public Safety Answering Center II (PSAC II), a new facility located in the Bronx, enhances New York City’s 911 emergency response system and sets a high standard for sustainability. The 450,000-square-foot building brings together emergency response workers from multiple city agencies—the Police Department, the Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services— serving as a model for inter-agency cooperation.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-24-Albert-Vecerka-808x1200 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

PSAC II sits on a prominent nine-acre site at the intersection of Bronx and Pelham Parkway and Hutchinson River Parkway. With its design, the Firm confronted the challenge of creating a secure and functional building that also makes a positive contribution to its urban context. Designed as a perfect cube, the structure has few windows due to security concerns. To mitigate the building’s potentially monolithic appearance, the Firm developed a dynamic, serrated facade of recycled aluminum.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-28-NYC-DCC-800x1200 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© New York City Department of Design and Construction

As a back-up facility to the city’s primary call center, PSAC II introduces an important layer of redundancy to New York City’s 911 system. Continuously operating and highly secure, the building enhances the city’s ability to maintain communication in the event of a natural disaster or large-scale emergency. The project’s completion is a milestone in New York City’s overhaul of its 911 system, a long-term initiative begun by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

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© New York City Department of Design and Construction

The building is surrounded by a wrap-around sculptural berm of wild grasses. This berm serves as a barrier to protect the facility, and it also enriches the aesthetics of the site. From the Hutchinson River and Pelham Parkways, the berm hides the surface parking and loading dock from view; for the building’s occupants, it offers a sense of connection to nature. The landscape requires no irrigation, which helps to achieve the project’s ambitious sustainability goal of LEED® Gold certification.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-44-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

The Firm gave special attention to creating a soothing environment for the emergency response teams working inside. The building’s main gathering space features an innovative plant wall developed by the design research laboratory of the Firm in partnership with a prominent technical institution. This plant wall not only introduces nature into the building, but also filters the air and reduces overall energy use.

Public-Safety-Answering-Center-II-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-46-Albert-Vecerka-759x506 Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Albert Vecerka

Project Data:

Project name: Public Safety Answering Center II
Location: 350 Marconi St, Bronx, New York 10461, United States
Coordinates: 40.855254, -73.836100
Type: Emergency Services Facility
Site area: 9 acres
Project area: 450,000 sq.ft / 40,500 sqm
Status: Built
Cost/Budget: $691 million
Completion: 2016

Awards:

  • 2017 – Society of American Registered Architects New York Council (SARA/NY Award) – Design Award of Excellence – Category: Governmental – Winner
  • 2017 – The Municipal Art Society of New York (MASterworks Awards) – Category: New Infrastructure – Winner
  • 2017 – NYCxDESIGN Awards – Category: Government / Institutional – Winner
  • 2017 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories: Institutional / Government & Municipal Buildings – Finalist
  • 2017 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA New York State Award – AIANYS Excelsior Awards – Category: Public Architecture – Honor Award
  • 2017 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA New York Design Awards – Category: Architecture – Merit Award
  • 2016 – Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations Government Technology
  • 2016 – Engineering News Record (ENR) Awards – Category: Government/Public Building – Award of Merit
  • 2016 – American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York Award) – Diamond Awards – Category: Special Projects – Engineering Excellence Awards

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer:  New York City Department of Design and Construction – 30-30 Thomson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA

Architects:

Senior Interior Designer: Cynthia Mirbach

Project Team:

  • Design Partner: Gary Haney
  • Managing Partner: Laura Ettelman, Peter Magill
  • Technical Partner: Carl Galioto
  • Interior Design Partner: Stephen Apking
  • Managing Director: Mark Regulinski
  • Technical Director: Nicholas Holt
  • Project Manager: Emily Mottolese, Mark Leininger, Joseph Sacco
  • Senior Design Architect: Rob Rothblatt
  • Senior Technical Coordinator: Carl Brown
  • Senior Technical Architect: Lesley Campbell, Ross Goldsworthy

Construction Manager: Tishman Construction

General Contractor: Tishman Technologies Corp.

Engineers:

  • MEP Engineer: Jaros Baum & Bolles
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Civil Engineer: Philip Habib & Associates
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Langan Engineering & Environmental Services

Consultants:

  • Landscape Architect: Thomas Balsley Associates
  • Active Modular Phytoremediation Wall System (AMPS): Center for Architecture Science & Ecology (CASE)
  • Sustainability Consultant Landscape Architect Graphic Designer Lighting Designer: Vidaris
  • Security Design Consultant: Shen Milson & Wilke, LLC
  • Vertical Transportation Consultant: Van Deusen & Associates
  • Code Consultant: Milrose Consultants
  • Cost Estimating Consultant: Ellana, Inc
  • Kitchen Consultant: Hopkins Foodservice Specialists, Inc
  • Graphic Designer: Lebowitz/Gould Design, Inc
  • Lighting Designer: Domingo Gonzalez Associates
  • Blast Designer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Acoustical and Vibration Designer: Shen Milson & Wilke, LLC

Selected suppliers & subcontractors, Manufacturers:

  • Manufacturers: Armstrong Ceilings, Kawneer, Shaw Contract Group, Sherwin-Williams

Text Description: © Courtesy of SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, New York City Department of Design and Construction
Images: © SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Albert Vecerka / ESTO, Lester Ali, New York City Department of Design and Construction

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Public Safety Answering Center II / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill
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