Infrastructure is an inevitable part of urban living. Subways and tunnels need ventilation, but the question is often–how to keep these functional spaces contained and away from the public eye? While many subway substations have been gutted and turned into apartments in New York City, other ventilation buildings have been concealed as residential townhouses. Here’s a roundup of these clever pieces of faux architecture in NYC, Paris, London and Toronto:
Strolling past the row of houses on Joralemon Street in beautiful Brooklyn Heights, you might notice that something is a little off. Take a close look at the red brick brownstone at number 58; the windows, you’ll see, are completely black. Suspicious, isn’t it? As it turns out, building number 58 is not what it seems; it is a fake brownstone, behind which lies a hidden subway ventilator. It also functions as a emergency exit.
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “the exit disguised as a brownstone leads to a grimy-lit set of metal stairs that ascend past utility boxes and ventilation shafts into a windowless room with a door. If you opened the door, you would find yourself on a stoop, which is just part of the façade.” BKLYN Magazine also wrote that the “cavernous interior once housed a battery of electrical devices that converted alternating current to the 600-volt direct current needed to power the IRT.” While it all sounds cool, retired General Superintendent of the MTA, Robert W. Lobenstein, told visitors on a tour of substations that it’s not really that interesting inside.