View Full Version : Harlem Health Center - Perkins Eastman Architects

March 23rd, 2003, 09:01 AM
Harlem Health Center
West 125th Street and Morningside Avenue
10 stories
Perkins Eastman Architects
Under Construction till Summer 2003


Harlem Health Center - Harlem, New York

Our first foray into the Harlem community is the construction of a new ten-story health care center for the New York Hotel Trades Council (hospitality union). *The building, designed by Perkins Eastman Architects, will include state-of-the-art facilities for Urgent Care, Pediatrics, Women’s Services, Radiology, Dental Services and a state of the art robotic pharmacy, as well as retail space and professional space for sublets. *Construction will also include underpinning, masonry cavity type walls, and steel decks.

Harlem Health Center
Breaks the Mold
Team creates efficient space with irregular geometry


By Andrew G. Roe

From the outset, the new Harlem Health Center now under construction has been destined as something other than a simple rectangular box.

Sited on a triangular-shaped lot at West 125th Street and Morningside Avenue, the $27 million health center creates a dramatic addition to the neighborhood with a wedge-shaped footprint at the base, setbacks midway up and contrasting effects of brick, steel and glass.

The 10-story structure's irregular shape has also peppered design and construction with a series of geometric challenges. Planners and designers sought an unconventional outward appearance but one that used space efficiently.

Builders have been constrained with tight logistics and high groundwater and have used cutting-edge computerized methods to smooth the process of detailing and fabricating the nonrectangular structural frame.
"With a triangular site, things are always on a skew," said Jonathan Stark, partner with Perkins Eastman Architects PC of New York City. "It leads to some interesting planning opportunities."

The building's owner, the New York Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association of New York City Inc., sought a structure that broke the stereotype of predictable public buildings. "We wanted a model more like private projects," said Linda McDowell, chief executive officer of the organization that includes nine labor unions representing more than 25,000 New York City hotel workers. "We wanted small, private spaces and didn't want patients wandering long hallways."

The project is slated for completion this summer.

The wedge-shaped site proved a near-perfect fit for the trades council, McDowell said. In addition to encouraging an eccentric building layout, the site was ideally located to serve as a full-service, health-care facility for one-third of the organization's members. "We were underrepresented in this area of the city," she added.

With the site just 52 ft. wide at the narrow end, Perkins Eastman included a glass face on that end of the building to avoid claustrophobic spaces. "We tried to keep the small areas open so the community could see in," Stark said.

The visibility also lends itself well to the retail space proposed at ground level, he added. Treatment rooms are located in the center of the building, and doctor offices are along one outer wall.

The project underwent a major transformation from its initial conception to final design. Originally envisioned as a 65,000-sq.-ft. building to meet local zoning requirements, the design team was able to add 37,000 sq. ft. and still meet those requirements by declaring the building a community-use facility.

This meant adding three floors of office space, converting a lower-level parking area to retail space and increasing the construction budget from $17 million to $27 million.

With the changes "we had to keep a tight rein on scope increases," said Eric Johnson, senior project manager with owner's representative Advocate Consulting Group, New York City. "When we went out to bid, we were right where we wanted to be."

Skewed Connections
While a nonrectangular layout was not new to most contractors on the project, the approach for handling structural detailing was. The construction team, led by general contractor C. Raimondo & Sons Construction Co. Inc. of Fort Lee, N.J., used a computerized process for steel detailing that required extra time up front to enter data but saved time in the long run, said Jerry Lala, Raimondo's senior project manager.

"We had to pay special attention to the connections, because everything else follows the steel," he added.

Structural steel fabricator Pecker Iron Works of Port Washington, N.Y., relied heavily on the output of SDS/2 software developed by Design Data of Lincoln, Neb., and used by The Steel Detailers Inc., Tampa, Fla. The computerized process uses a 3-D model of the building frame to automate connection design, minimizing the amount of manual detailing, said Elliot Pecker, vice president of Pecker Iron Works.

A unique lateral bracing system made automation of connection details particularly challenging, said Keith Loo, principal of New York City-based Goldstein Associates Consulting Engineers the project structural engineers.

"The client wanted an open lobby, so we tried to limit wind bracing," he said. Instead of column-to-column bracing, designers incorporated bracing into walls, elevator and stair cores and used foundation-level tie beams, he added.

Consequently, "we had to give the detailers more configuration details," Loo said.

Steel erection was also complicated by a street construction embargo in New York City during the holiday season. "We couldn't get a crane permit between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, so we had to erect the lentils on the perimeter with more manpower," said John Cusack, president of erector Millennium Steel of New York Inc., Lodi, N.J.

Crews used electric chain hoists to lift the 30-ft.-long, 400-lb. lentils, which support brickwork above window and door openings.

The framing consists of 16-in.-deep steel beams and 24-in.-deep steel girders supported by steel columns weighing up to 193 lbs. per ft. The columns rest on concrete-spread footings up to 20 ft. by 20 ft. in plan and 4 ft. deep.

To underpin the perimeter, excavation/foundation subcontractors Civetta Cousins JV Inc., New York City, drove H-beam soldier piles 40 ft. deep and placed 2- by 12-in. oak timber lagging between the piles.

The deepest cut, at 23 ft. below grade, penetrated groundwater and required pumping during foundation construction, Lala said. But groundwater problems were minimized by limiting the basement depth during design.

"We wanted two basement levels, but eliminated one to avoid water," Stark added.

Even with horizontal and vertical constraints, the team is poised to deliver a 102,000-sq.-ft. building with its own identity.

"We wanted a building with some flair and one that contributed to the resurgence of 125th Street," Stark said.

March 24th, 2003, 12:56 PM
Looks good. Always nice to see areas getting wonderful additions (both practically and asthetically), especially in areas that may not be so great (or was not at one point). *NYC continues to revitalize itself.

March 25th, 2003, 08:59 PM
Any other construction projects in Harlem?