In New York City, we have a varied collection of building exteriors subject to visible, dramatic deterioration. Less prominent, but vitally important, are components of the city’s infrastructure – retaining walls, foundation walls, utility tunnels, bridge abutments, and accessory buildings to bridges and tunnels, like ventilator shafts and vaults. Our infrastructure is subject to the same environmental degradation as our more visible facades.
Public agencies are typically responsible for infrastructure maintenance, but are usually constrained to award restoration construction contracts to the lowest responsible bidder. Construction documents must be correct, clear, complete, and concise, minimizing change orders and delays. Because change orders on SUPERSTRUCTURES projects average below 5% (and sometimes 0%), we’ve become a favorite of numerous public agencies with a facilities portfolio.
We often say that water is the enemy of the building envelope. The preferred fix involves re-establishing control of unwelcome water at the source. But for an event like Sandy, where the source of unwelcome water is the Atlantic Ocean, control at the source is impossible. The earliest point at which floodwaters can realistically be controlled is at, or just outside of, the building line. For this purpose, we’ve become conversant with the design of the wide variety of flood mitigation barriers, doors, and gates that have recently become available.