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New York City is testing new “flex gates”

I spent a good chunk of this morning talking and thinking about underground building details that most people (unless you’re in the industry) would never think to consider. This is not a criticism on most people. I mean, I don’t know how iPhones are made. I just use and enjoy them. But when it comes to buildings, I’m paid to ask questions and understand how things work.

There’s a lot of risk in the ground.

You have to think about things like bearing capacity, environmental contamination (usually), hydrostatic pressure and, generally, how you’re going to manage water, particularly if you have a high groundwater table. Usually this last one is about making sure you’re keeping the water out. A pretty important detail both below and above grade.

So when I came home tonight and saw the below tweet, I felt obligated to write about it.

If you read the reply from NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, you’ll see that this is them testing something they call a “flex gate.” It is a flood barrier that allows them to seal off subway entrances in the case of a storm surge and they run these tests (shown above) for 4 hours at a time to make sure they’re installed property. This one was.

Managing water is a big part of city building. New York City, Miami, Venice, and countless others know this all too well right now.

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