NY Mass Transit Authority
Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot
New York, NY


Davis Brody Bond in tandem with Arup recently completed the competition design of the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot. The project not only meets the MTA’s programmatic and technical requirements but also expands upon its efforts to create a flexible facility that is a respectful, environmentally responsible, and harmonious addition to this diverse urban neighborhood. The firm’s scheme uses rationalized structure to simplify circulation and optimize the number of bus parking spaces. Offices and mechanical plant rooms on the first and second floors are organized to provide distinction between building functions and maximize available program area. The clarity of plan allows for flexibility to respond to future changes in program. Reduction in building volume over the third floor ramp achieves a small building envelope and admits welcome daylighting via clerestory openings.

The building’s façade and roof system provide the neighborhood with a new urban garden. On the south façade, the building scale is mitigated through use of repetitive vertical elements that relate proportionally and rhythmically to the adjacent brownstones and community centers. The façade’s copper color harmonizes with the brick of the neighboring residential buildings. The North façade is treated with shades of green — a “vision of living bamboo,” closely associated with the high-rise complex of buildings and the green park space across the street. The roof, or “Fifth Garden Façade,” features multi-colored sedum and gravel beds, mindful of residents in the surrounding towers who have a view of the depot from above.

The brick base is designed as an “Urban Gallery” for the lit display of community artwork. Vertical windows, required for daylighting, subdivide the brick expanse into panels of varying lengths. The simple act of walking alongside the bus depot for the length of a city block weaves each piece together into a tapestry that is expressive of the community as a whole.