According to an article in today's New York Times, Forest City Ratner Companies has chosen to build the first residential building at Atlantic Yards using modular construction. At 32 stories, B2 will be the tallest modular building in the world. Groundbreaking for B2 has been scheduled for December 18.
The use of modular construction has been chosen as a means to reduce costs not only on B2, but throughout the remaining Atlantic Yards buildings. The project's approval in 2006, as well as its revised plan of 2009, anticipated conventional construction techniques would be used when considering Atlantic Yards' use of public subsidies and overall feasibility. In the Times article Thomas Hanrahan, dean of Pratt Institute's architecture school states, "The question is: Will the savings be passed on to the public in some form?"
With a presentation on the design of B2 scheduled for Thursday of this week, other outstanding questions about the building may finally be answered a short three weeks before the building's groundbreaking.
What are the construction plans for B2?
The 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) left B2 without publicly-disclosed construction plans. The original arena block plans anticipated office and residential towers integrated with the arena and built in quick succession. B2 was to be complete one month after the arena, with the entire block complete about a year after the arena opening. Now to construct B2 FCRC must contend with traffic and pedestrian demands generated by an operating arena next door. And because of the use of much of the remaining area FCRC controls for arena patron and broadcast uplink surface parking, there are fewer locations available for construction staging than anticipated when the plans for construction were originally approved in 2006. This may mean sidewalk and lane closures are more likely at the same time that demands on local streets and sidewalks have increased.
AYW has been informed by a representative of the Empire State Development Corporation that the NYPD intends to allow limos to queue during arena events on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. [UPDATE: On November 13, we were informed by Council Member James' office that the block of Atlantic Avenue designated by DOT and NYPD for limo staging was between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue, not Carlton and Vanderbilt.] The section of Atlantic Avenue is currently available for public parking except during overnight street cleaning hours. On Friday, November 9, use of the area was reserved for vehicles registered with TLC license plates, consistent with the NYPD proposal.
Idling of limos in unauthorized locations in Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Fort Greene has been a major concern for residents since the arena's opening. AYW incident reports filed include 945, 947, 969, 970, 971, 972, 973, 989, 991, 997, and 998. 311 closed reports for many of these incidents noting "police action was not necessary," or "no evidence of violation." Idling of limos has also been documented by Atlantic Yards Report.
At an October 16 meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall, community members asked 78th Precinct Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri to address the problem through enforcement. Ameri responded,"Enforcement is part of the answer, but it's not the solution. The solution is to give them a place."
On Thursday evening, September 27, the Barclays Center 40/40 Club opened with a VIP reception. Invited guests were received through an arena entrance on Atlantic Avenue west of Sixth Avenue. The VIPs' drivers were provided a sheet with the following directions to arena patron parking on block 1129 (see photo at left):
- Go straight down Atlantic from VIP entrance and make a right on Vanderbilt
- Right on Bergen St.
- Right on Dean St.
- Drive to Middle of block and pull into the lot on the left
Neighborhood residents will notice that these directions omit a necessary right turn onto Carlton Avenue from Bergen Street before the turn onto Dean Street. It's not clear if this omission caused any confusion on the part of drivers.
The bigger question is why Barclays Center would have directed drivers to make a circuit through three of Prospect Heights' residential streets when the most direct route from the VIP entrance to the lot would have been to turn right onto Carlton Avenue and left onto Pacific Street, entering the lot from that block. That route would have avoided any residences.
In what is something of a surprise, the facade of Barclays Center is to be illuminated by multi-colored LED lights set in between the body of the arena building and the metal shell designed by SHoP Architects. The lights will shine from each of the slots in the rusted steel exterior. The colors of the lights are variable. So far we have witnessed purple, white, green and blue being tested.
Over the last month changes to the way truck deliveries take place at Barclays Center have increased meaningfully the number of violations of NYC law, the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and Barclays Center Truck Delivery Rules and Requirements. With apparently no enforcement taking place, the consequence is a wide range of adverse impacts on the community: trucks idling for long periods; use of unauthorized truck routes; and blocking of bus lanes, bike lanes, no standing zones and travel lanes. Travel and the quality of life on Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th Avenue is particularly affected.
An existing area of greenery planted and maintained by community members was removed yesterday by FCRC. To the left above is the work in progress on Carlton Avenue between Pacific and Dean Streets. To the right is the former appearance of the block. The sidewalk forms the western perimeter of what will be the new arena patron parking lot.
If the plantings had been allowed to remain, the area may have been the single place around the arena patron parking lot to meet the 7 foot landscaped perimeter standard required of other parking lots in NYC. Instead, the landscaped perimeter will apparently be reduced to 4 feet on Carlton Avenue like the other sidewalks surrounding the lot.
Study finds many problems remain after years of reports showing noncompliance with environmental commitments were submitted to ESDC
An analysis of documents submitted by the environmental consultant HDR retained by ESDC to monitor compliance with Atlantic Yards' noise and air quality protocols has found that the agency has been advised of significant areas of non-compliance on an ongoing basis since construction began in 2010. The analysis is contained in a report prepared for AYW by Sandstone Environmental Associates of Metuchen, NJ. Sandstone also found that some air and noise mitigations originally planned were likely inadequate, several planned mitigations were implemented late or not at all, and others that had been implemented unevenly were not being enforced either by FCRC, ESDC or City agencies.
Among specific examples are the following:
- Dust suppression protocols are often violated. Too few air quality monitors are being used given the scale of the site, and those that have been deployed are not used during extended hours construction.
- The 3/4" plywood being used for construction fencing does not have sufficient noise attenuation properties to shield nearby residences.
- The model of double-pane windows offered as a noise mitigation for nearby buildings may not have an attentuation rating sufficient to insulate residences from construction noise.
- Construction equipment that did not meet the project's stated air quality standards has been allowed to remain in service on the site for months while compliant equipment was waiting to be received.
- The ConEd power grid required for use of electrical, rather than diesel, equipment and generators was installed more than ten months late after construction activity had peaked, and then was largely not utilized by contractors.
- Use of unauthorized truck routes by contractors is pervasive, with little or no enforcement by ESDC and the City.
- Extended hours and nighttime construction work is routinely scheduled much more frequently than disclosed and committed in Atlantic Yards' Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
American Society of Landscape Architects calls for sustainable design for Barclays surface parking lot
The New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA), an organization of landscape architects in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, has submitted a letter to ESDC CEO Kenneth Adams about the plans for the surface parking lot for Barclays Center patrons on block 1129. NYSLA expresses "dissatisfaction" with the proposed plans, and calls for a more sustainable plan that benefits NYC "through vegetation, shade, a minimized carbon footprint, stormwater management and pervious parking surface materials." The heart of their recommendations is that the lot meet NYC DCP standards, and that it be constructed using green technology.
The group writes that it finds the proposed design "troubling, potentially dangerous to long-term public health, averse to maintaining environmental quality and inconsistent with NYC’s intent to strengthen the economy, combat climate change and enhance quality of life through thoughtful and environmentally beneficial design."
The use of block 1129 for an interim surface parking lot is a contentious piece of the Atlantic Yards plan. In 2009, the Project's plans were changed and the delivery date of the housing and open space on block 1129 was extended to 25 years or more, meaning the surface parking lot could be in place for decades rather than the few years originally intended.
Update June 18: DOB has amended the full stop work order on the site to allow the approved work of grading and removal of minor construction debris. Since the installation of the retaining tanks has not been approved yet, the stop work order will remain in place for that work. We will post further information when it is provided.
The Department of Buildings has issued a stop work order for construction on block 1129. The stop work order is dated June 15th and describes the violations as "various." The address cited is 583 Dean Street, which is the address under which FCRC has submitted the plans for the surface parking lot on block 1129. The order states the work on the "full site" is to be stopped "except to make site safe."
Community members have complained about the work on the block 1129 for multiple reasons, most seriously recently for vibrations on buildings in the historic district along Carlton Avenue. Several incident reports from that area have been filed on this website about vibrations over the last several weeks, including a ceiling collapse.
The only work currently approved in relation to the implementation of the lot is grading and minor removal of construction debris. The plans for the detention system to be used for handling the storm water runoff from the lot and the plans for the lot including fencing are listed as "disapproved" on the DOB website.
The work on the lot for the last month has appeared to exceed the scope and impact of the approved work. This week excavations at least 20 feet deep were made. What appears to be tanks for the detention system have been placed along Carlton Avenue.
24-hour work to move LIRR operations from the southern to the northern half of Vanderbilt Railyards (referred to as the "cutover" in ESDC's Atlantic Yards construction alerts) is causing consternation among residents. AYW has received several complaints about jackhammers, saws, and the persistent beeping of reversing construction vehicles. One resident describes "jackhammering, tons of noise."
The video to the right is a of a worker using a saw on LIRR's tracks at 2 AM. The filer of the incident report that includes the video has a decibel meter and reports a 120 db level. No steps to attenuate the noise are visible in the video.
The use of noisy equipment like saws and jackhammers is not specified in the most recent construction alert. The alert warns the community about the intermittent use of the LIRR railyard's lights all night, and that from 3:30 PM to 1:00 PM "loud banging noises by dump trucks will occur as they empty their loads of stone in the east yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues." But it does not describe jackhammering or the use of saws, and the noisy work described ends at 1:00 AM, not the later hours that the incident reports from nearby residents describe.