A new structure cropped up in late 2007 that left passersby in Mott Haven guessing. On first glance, the uniform exterior and high fences suggest a gated community. A second look confirms a more uncanny scene: doors floating above stoops, windows blacked out, and no sign whatsoever of human life. To this day, the development remains unoccupied. Understandably so, as its shell exists purely to mask two Con Edison substations, working day and night to transform high-voltage electricity to provide approximately 900 megawatts to the Bronx.
As it works to keep up with growing energy demand, community opposition has been driving Con Edison to shift its techniques for community outreach, planning, and building. Finding a lot that is zoned for industrial use among dense development proves more and more difficult, and the energy company has taken to disguising infrastructure across the city to make it look like anything but a power station.
The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.