The Public Safety Answering Center II (PSAC II) is a facility in the Bronx created to enhance New York City’s 911 emergency response system and set a high standard for sustainability. The 450,000-square-foot building brings together emergency response workers from multiple city agencies—the Police Department, the Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services—serving as a model for inter-agency cooperation.
As a back-up facility to the city’s primary call center, PSAC II introduces an important layer of redundancy to New York City’s 911 system. Continuously operating and highly secure, the building enhances the city’s ability to maintain communication in the event of a natural disaster or large-scale emergency. The project’s completion is a milestone in New York City’s overhaul of its 911 system, a long-term initiative begun by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
With the PSAC II design, SOM created a secure and functional building while also making a positive contribution to the urban context. Designed as a perfect cube, the structure has few windows due to security concerns. To mitigate the potentially monolithic appearance, SOM developed a dynamic, serrated facade of recycled aluminum. The building is surrounded by a sculptural berm of wild grasses to enrich the aesthetics of the site, hide the surface parking and loading dock from view, and offer a sense of natural connection to its users. The landscape requires no irrigation, which helps to achieve the project’s ambitious sustainability goal of LEED® Gold certification.
SOM gave special attention to creating a soothing environment for the emergency response teams working inside. The building’s main gathering space features an innovative plant wall developed by CASE, the design research laboratory of SOM in partnership with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This plant wall not only introduces nature into the building, but also filters the air and reduces overall energy use