A Smart, Sustainable Office of the future: 14th@Irving

Creating an Inclusive Center for the Innovation Economy

WSP is designing a new tech-savvy Manhattan building that will become a smart, healthy, sustainable home for emerging and established New York City technology companies.

“New York City has plans to create 100,000 new jobs in the tech/innovation sectors over the next 10 years, and 14th@Irving represents the epicenter of that plan,” said Keith Amann, a project manager for WSP’s Built Ecology team. “Our challenge is to create a highly-flexible building that supports the City’s dynamic and growing tech industry for years to come.”

The new 240,000-square-foot building is being developed by RAL Development Services and designed by Davis Brody Bond, architect. It is a privately funded project, but is being developed in collaboration with the City of New York and the Economic Development Corporation. The project is currently in the land development phase, and demolition will soon begin on a former retail building currently located on the site. Groundbreaking is targeted in early 2019, with completion of the building by early 2021.

WSP is providing integrated consulting services including mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP) system design, fire protection, lighting design, building technology and smart building services, commissioning, and sustainability. Built Ecology is leading the integrative design process and sustainability services, which are central to WSP’s mission.

WSP will also be working to help the building achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Amann said they are targeting LEED Gold certification at a minimum, but they have set their sights on Platinum, the highest rating by USGBC. The building is also seeking Platinum certification through Wired Score, a certification system for a buildings’ digital infrastructure.

When completed, 14th@Irving will become a center for inclusive training, collaboration, innovation and growth. It includes a digital skills training center for New Yorkers seeking 21st century job skills, “step-up” office space for young companies that are not yet ready to invest in long-term leases, and traditional office space for established companies.

“This center will be a great place to start and grow new tech businesses within a community of like-minded innovators,” Amann said.

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A Dynamic Future-Ready Building

Located at 124 E. 14th Street, near Union Square in midtown Manhattan, 14th@Irving will feature an elegant minimalist design that will highlight activity within the building. The façade on 14th Street will stand out in a neighborhood filled with historic and traditional buildings.

The building will include a public food hall, five floors of flexible office space and seven floors of “Class A” office space. The ground floor will include retail space that features an Urbanspace market, which will be limited to vendors with fewer than five locations in Manhattan and no space within a half-mile of the building.

14th@Irving also dedicates six floors to Civic Hall, a community and collaborative work, education and event center that opened in 2015 with a goal of connecting people and organizations with opportunities to work together and advance the use of technology for the public good. Three of those floors will be dedicated to a digital skills training center for the community.

14th@Irving will provide its members with a central location for technology, thought and entrepreneurship where change-makers gather to share knowledge, build tools and solve public interest problems together. Civic Hall has over 1,000 individual members and 150 organizational members, including government employees, academics, journalists and artists.

“The intention is that 14th@Irving is going to reflect what these innovative companies are doing out there in the community,” Amann said. “While we are still in the exploration phase, that will likely include the integration of a smart sensor network throughout the building, and an app that will help occupants access the functions and programs within the building.”

Those sensors will also provide building management with valuable information related to how tenants are using the building, monitoring occupants’ patterns, indoor air quality, etc., and adjust to operate its systems more efficiently.

“They will be able to see where people are moving through the spaces to improve mobility, and see what is being over- or underutilized,” Amann said. “It will become a dynamic building through ongoing data collection.”

In the lobby, a large interactive display will help occupants and visitors present the functions and components of the building and ensure that they are using features to their maximum benefit, sharing details about energy consumption, water consumption, climate conditions, making each occupant an active participant in the building’s success.

The design includes an accessible rooftop terrace that will feature vegetated gardens and a photovoltaic canopy, producing energy while also providing shelter.

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Leading the Integrative Approach

WSP is leading the integrative design approach for the project, working closely with the architect, project team, and ownership from the concept phase through construction.

“Our role on projects is to enable and deliver great design solutions,” said Narada Golden, leader of the WSP Built Ecology team in New York. “Over the years we have found that truly innovative projects require a well-developed design strategy to focus the project team’s efforts.”

On this project, aspirations to provide smart, healthy and sustainable design solutions could pull the project team in different directions, so WSP facilitated an integrated design workshop with all key stakeholders to discuss and prioritize the design vision.

“We left the workshop with a clear vision of what we are aiming for and how we are going to achieve the project goals,” Amann said. “Feedback from ownership and the design team led us to develop a new interactive format for our Basis of Design [BoD], which not only articulates the project goals, but links each goal to specific design solutions and details provided by each discipline.”

One way WSP has already helped RAL toward its goals was the evaluation and selection for the heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) system.

“We utilized computational design tools to help the team make smart design decisions that reduce energy use and cost,” said Melissa Kelly, WSP analytics project lead. “Our analysis allowed us to identify solar impacts on the building’s heat and cooling loads, assess potential daylight access for occupants, and optimize mechanical systems based on predicted demand patterns.”

From an energy analysis came a plan that will result in lower energy costs for the building by using an air-cooled variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system.

“The result is an efficient HVAC system that does not require a cooling tower and condenser water system for heat rejection, which will free up space on the roof as well as shaft space on each floor,” Amann said. “By evaluating the space and understanding the project goals and challenges, we were able to get a win-win, selecting a more efficient system while saving lots of roof space for building amenities.”

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Growing Partnership

WSP has worked with RAL as strategic sustainability advisors on previous projects, but this is the first time WSP has provided fully integrated design services for the developer. When RAL was building the design team they emphasized the benefits of hiring a single consulting firm to lead the building system design, sustainability initiatives and smart building strategy.

“This project has pushed us to use new technology and strategies for collaboration that haven’t been deployed before, which is very exciting,” Amann said. “We are taking on a role with RAL that extends far beyond sustainability, and there are a lot of very cool components to this project. We are excited to deliver a truly integrated solution for 14th@Irving.”

Even before ground is broken, the building concept is getting high marks and is generating a lot of buzz in New York City.

“Mayor (Bill) DeBlasio has said how excited he is for this building to come to New York,” Amann said. “Personally, it has been very refreshing to be involved with a project geared toward entrepreneurs in the innovation space who have a lot of progressive ideas, where people will interact, grow together and collaborate.”

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