First Responders Academy

2016 | Professor: Byron Stigge

Architectural Technology V Integrated Design: Urban Scale


Group Members: Jonathan Izen, Valerie Lechene, Ronald Yeung


The Alverne East site, located on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, has an average elevation of 5.5 feet and is surrounded by two water bodies: the Jamaica bay on the northeastern side and the Atlantic Ocean on the southwestern site. Its geographic condition makes it highly fragile and vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events constitute constant threat to our current methods of construction and inhabitation. While the Rockaway community was deeply affected by Superstorm Sandy (power outage, buildings lifted off the ground by heavy winds), it remains a prone area of the New York City area for affordable oceanfront housing and seaside businesses. The recovery was slow but beaches reopened for the 2013 summer season and people flocked back.

While current calculations predict a rise of sea level of up to six feet in the next hundred years, we believe it is crucial that any new building construction designed in the Arvene East site should be adapted to sea level rise and all of what it implies with regards to transportation, energy, drinking water, sanitary sewer and drainage.

After careful evaluation of conditions, we counsel an educational type that learns from recent history and evolves and adapts in synchronicity with the building, neighborhood and available urban networks to address what the area most desperately needs at this specific moment in time. As such, we propose to rethink traditional police and fire departments in order to make resources and services available to the local
community when emergencies happen.

General Assembly’s education fueled co-working model can be a useful precedent in this process. Rethinking what it means to be a police officer can be a new way to adapt the police and fire station into a center for the local community and create a feedback loop between those
who provide public service and those who receive it. Pairing the program of the police academy with that of emergency doctors makes sense on the Rockaway peninsula.

All training would happen within the site area, including ocean training and storm and flood response. This new facility allows for training in its most extreme site, educating first responders about natural disasters where it will greatly impact the built environment. Learning to adapt would is an aspect of the educational program that could be reflected in the building in the way it fortifies against water on the exterior and transforms its interior.