By 2100, “snow days” will be a thing of the past in New England. “Water days” will be a frequent occurrence owing to a 5’ sea level rise in Boston Harbor, with storms surging cause frequent flooding. By this time, residents of the North End and other waterfront neighborhoods will have adapted to the “new normal.” Periodic inundation by seawater will lead to routine closing of schools and non-essential businesses which will carry on digitally, with no loss in productivity. Rising tides will require a perpetual state of community preparedness, alertness and cooperation, particularly when the moon is full. Fortunately, by this time, the North End will have a resource and refuge in Prince Place. And Boston will have a network of resilient, energy independent, community shelters designed to double as surge shelters to prepare and protect all its residents.
A Community Resource for the 21st and 22nd Centuries:
Refurbished, repurposed and resilient, Prince Place is designed as a year-round community center that can be readily converted into a surge shelter as needed. The open floor plan supports a variety of activities including community meeting, general instruction, public performance, group exercise, medical clinics, offices and temporary housing. Many North End residents regularly stop by Prince Place to vote, attend community meetings, enjoy performances, shop at the weekly farmers’ market, and participate in emergency-preparedness workshops. School children attend after school programs, visit the greenhouses, and view the photovoltaic installation.
Prince Place is designed to withstand episodic flooding. Structural reinforcement and waterproofing of the two lowest levels enable sea water to flow, unimpeded, through the structure, without damage. A building envelope retrofit double-skins the original cladding, increasing the energy efficiency to Passive House standards. The integrated photovoltaic arrays and high-efficiency batteries produce and store 100% of the energy required by the building independent of the public electrical utility grid. Fresh water is ensured by rooftop ultraviolet purification units and sedimentation settling tanks. As a back-up for fresh water, backpack-style personal water purification devices, originally developed for the military, are able to sustain individual hydration indefinitely.
In the days before a flood event, the entire building is rearranged to serve as temporary refuge. In surge shelter mode, office desks, farm tables and yoga mats are pushed aside to make way for cots and cafeteria tables. Neighborhood residents at risk of danger from flood waters can choose to shelter here for the storm.
Repurposed Prince Place serves as a beacon owing to its relative height and ever-present illumination, even during power outages that frequently accompany flooding. Solar powered, Prince Place shines a midst the darkness. In surge shelter mode, Prince Place provides a refuge for nearly 1,000 Bostonians to wait out the storm, supported by food and water stores, temporary sleeping quarters and emergency medical facilities.
Daniel Bernstein, AIA, LEED – Architect/Planner
Ellen Watts, AIA, LEED – Architect/Planner
Nikul Patel, LEED – Designer
Caitlin Gilman, AIA, LEED – Architect
Pete Hanley, Assoc. AIA, LEED – Designer
Jamie McGavin, LEED – Designer
Matt Calvey, AIA, LEED – Architect