Manhattan’s density, supported by its mass transit infrastructure, is the principle reason the average New Yorker has a smaller carbon footprint than her counterpart in another large US city. At the scale of the city’s individual buildings, high-rise living and working are made possible by technological factors. And some of the technologies developed for lifting people, water, hot and cool air to great heights currently work in much the same way as they did when initially introduced. How often do we stop to consider the systems required to make a building function?
Urban Omnibus recently spent a day with Jim Ferrari, the chief mechanic of 515 Madison Avenue, a midtown Manhattan office building designed by J.E.R. Carpenter and completed in 1931, to find out more about what exactly goes on behind doors that typically only maintenance workers pass through. What Ferrari revealed was a series of day-to-day systems that many of us — those concerned with the environmental sustainability of our building stock — talk about improving without necessarily being able to visualize.
Visit Urban Omnibus, an online project of the Architecture League of New York, to view the City of Systems film series which offers a poetic peek behind the scenes of some of the complex systems that enable New York City to function.
The series is made possible by IBM as part of its commitment to use technology and information to help build more sustainable and intelligent cities.