Injuries or even deaths related to ice falling from buildings in New York City isn’t something new and it is quite common for NYC pedestrians to see sidewalks partially closed during the winter because of the potential risk of ice chunks falling from buildings.
Recently however, entire streets of the city were closed for several days by the police because of massive chunks of ice falling from supertall glass skyscrapers.
While ice and snow can accumulate on any type of building in New York City, a recent study indicates that the new high rise buildings made of glass and aluminium have energy efficient systems that have the unexpected consequence to promote ice and snow accumulation on their surfaces. This problem is exacerbated with the actual climate change conditions. In New York where some of the supertall glass towers are reaching a height close to 1000 feet it causes a real danger of injury and even death to pedestrians as well as potential risk of significant damage to vehicles or other properties.
Last December, a pedestrian suffered cuts to his lips and nose after ice fell from a glass tower under construction located on 58th between Broadway and 7 Avenue. A few days later, several blocks had to be closed in Midtown and Central Park South after giant chunks of ice started to fall in the street and in the Park.
10 super tall high efficiency energy towers made of glass and steel are already built and six others are under construction in New York City. While it is the responsibility of the building owner to keep pedestrians safe around their properties, architects and engineers will have to develop new solutions to prevent this type of problem in the future.
In the meantime with some more winter weather expected in the coming days, some more street closures should be expected in New York City.
Read more about it in the New York Times
Picture of a falling ice sign by Billie Ward: Courtesy of Wikimedia