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State & Local Government Projects

Gowanus Facilities Upgrade

Owner: New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

As a step toward improving Gowanus Canal water quality, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched a $183 million facilities upgrade to increase the capacity, function, and reliability of the canal flushing tunnel system and wastewater pumping station. The project included the renovation of two historic buildings, the construction of a new service facility and sewage pumping station, and the restoration of a stately perimeter wall around the canal facilities.

Gannett Fleming Architects set out to preserve the historic character of the original Dutch Colonial buildings, while infusing the site with a modern style symbolic of its renewal. The 3,550-square-foot Flushing Tunnel Building and 630-square-foot Gate House suffered from aging doors, windows, and roofs, and damaged masonry. Their rehabilitation included exterior maintenance improvements, such as repointing, repairing the roofs, and resetting the limestone copings and keystones that had shifted over time. In the Flushing Tunnel Building, all six of the dormer windows and two of the rear facing arched windows were replaced with architectural louvers to provide increased ventilation required by the mechanical upgrades.

The sleek new 5,400-square-foot Service Building and Pumping Station features stainless steel coiling doors, stainless steel swing doors, and stainless steel panels, which alternate with stainless steel louvers. This façade material offered a solution to a practical challenge: the stainless steel panels allowed the building to be taller to accommodate the mechanical equipment and were also lightweight enough to be supported by the existing foundation. Designers also creatively linked the Service Building to the adjacent Flushing Tunnel Building by using one of the historic structure’s arches on the façade as the connection entrance. At the community’s request, the 200-foot-long Butler Street Wall, which encloses the property, was carefully redesigned and reconstructed to preserve its historic charm.