We took a visit inside the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) again last week, one of our favorite city agencies because it looks just like NASA inside. On the agenda for this visit included a look at the city’s Temporary Disaster Housing Unit which is currently being tested by OEM employees, who live inside one week at a time. It’s actually the nation’s first urban post-disaster housing prototype, a direct response to the challenges faced after Hurricane Sandy.
1/3 of New York City’s homes are in flood zones but FEMA currently doesn’t have a temporary housing solution for dense areas, relying on traditional trailers. Following the “What If NYC” competition, a modular, 3-story structure was designed for testing over the period of year. The pilot project is a joint initiative from the FEMA, NYC Department of Design and Construction, Department of City Planning, US Army Corps of Engineers, and OEM, among other partners.
The prototype sits on a plot of land leased from the parks department, deliberately sited to require the most complex hookup to municipal gas and electric that might be required in a real scenario. The land will be restored following the pilot project. On the evaluation end, OEM has partnered with Pratt RAMP, a resiliency program, and NYU-Poly’s Environmental Psychology Program.
The modular structure was built in Indiana and trucked to NYC over the course of two days. It took 13 and a half hours to put together, which you can see in timelapse and additional couple weeks to finish the interior. The entire structure complies with NYC building codes and is 100% ADA compliant for handicap and special needs. The unit has one three-bedroom apartment and two one-bedroom apartments.
According to staffers at OEM, they’ve been holding some cocktail parties inside during their week stays. Here’s a timelapse of the installation on Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn in June: