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2018 MCHAP

Queens Emergency Medical Services Station 50

Kathryn Dean, Dean/Wolf Architects

Jamaica, USA

May 2016


Kathryn Dean, Dean/Wolf Architects


Charles Wolf, Dean/Wolf Architects (Partner) Chris Kroner, Dean/Wolf Architects (Associate Partner) Hage Engineering (Structural Engineer) CGM Engineering (MEP Engineers)


Fire Department of New York


Paul Warchol


The strong presence of the building in the site with the dynamic cantilever at one end and the open apparatus floor on the other connects the community to the Queens Emergency Medical Services (EMS) District Headquarters. The building serves as a reminder of the important role the Fire Department of New York EMS plays in maintaining a vigilant presence to combat the fear of small and large scale emergencies within the city. Materials reinforce this goal in three ways: 1. The powerful form is strengthened through material pattern 2. The apparatus floor (garage) uses bold color to mark its location 3. The materials for the building reinforce the visual identity of EMS The continuously sloping form that moves dynamically across the site expresses the restless energy of the facility. Strong slashes pattern both the glass and the concrete, reinforcing the diagonal lines of the form and creating a tactile surface along the sidewalk. The apparatus floor, located at the hinge in the folded form, is the joint between interior and exterior. The signature FDNY-red overhead garage doors are the focal point of the street façade and are the primary point of interface between the public and the facility. The red, white, and metallic silver of the EMS identity are woven throughout the facility. Red block, red lights, and red lettering play against the white concrete and white frit of the taut glass and crisp metal work almost pulling the visual presence of the ambulances themselves into the building.


Three main site issues were the impetus for the Queens Emergency Medical Services (EMS) building: 1. Capitalizing on the energy of the sloping street to create a dynamic identity 2. Resolving the conflicting scale issues of the neighborhood to create a unified street 3. Protecting an existing underground utility tunnel that traversed the site The first impetus was the strongly sloping site that inspired a continuously inclined form. The building rises up and out of the sidewalk following the lines of the street and culminating in a dynamic cantilever that overhangs the entry to the parking lot. The diagonal form anticipates movement, embodying the programmatic reality of immediate action required of EMS workers. The second issue, the scale conflict between the large hospital and the tiny houses, is also resolved through the continuously inclined form. The sloping double story volume echoes the section of the tiny houses across the street. At the same time, the length of the building works with the large scale of the adjacent hospital, while simultaneously forming a "dam" along the street that protects the houses. The third and perhaps most challenging consideration, was an existing, underground utility tunnel which courses across the entire site. It is the invisible presence of the tunnel that led to the structural approach. A long span truss/bridge uses two abutments to direct foundation loads away from the tunnel and lift the second floor creating the structure of the continuously rising form and the dramatic cantilever.


The Station is a hub of activity in the community. The apparatus floor (garage) is always open and engaging, with people coming and going 24-7. The internal functioning of the Station is comprised of four programs: 1. Apparatus Floor 2. Station Office 3. Station Functions 4. District Offices The most important activity for the Station is the apparatus floor. Located at one end of the site, in the tallest portion of the building, it is a grand room scaled to the street. Three garage doors, usually open, link the station to the community. Adjacent is the Station Office, command central for the entire building. Located at an overlap between the two diagonal bars, it is a three dimensional joint that visually links all four programs. The Station's lockers and showers line the first floor. The red concrete block in the corridor plays with the identity of the ambulances while creating durability for the heavily trafficked spaces. The District Offices are located within the powerful diagonal trusses of the second floor giving them a special identity within the station. The spaces are joined through shifted atriums, stairs, and large windows that overlook the apparatus floor. This continuity of spaces both outside and inside the building creates a connection between different users within the building. This facility has been embraced by the FDNY EMS users it serves and has been exemplary for the Design Excellence Program established to elevate the quality of new civic design in the city of NY.

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