Bellevue Hospital Switchgear Relocation

System overhaul; Bellevue Hospital Switchgear Relocation; Parsons Brinckerhoff

By Parsons Brinckerhoff August 15, 2013

Engineering firm: Parsons Brinckerhoff
2013 MEP Giants rank:
Bellevue Hospital Switchgear Relocation
Manhattan, New York, N.Y., United States
Building type:
Project type:
System overhaul (mechanical system upgrade, fire protection system overhaul, etc.)
Engineering services:
Code Compliance, Electrical/Power
Project timeline:
December 2012 to May 2013
Engineering services budget:
MEP budget:


Floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012 completely disabled a vast majority of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems, as well as elevators, at Bellevue Hospital on Manhattan’s East Side. Fuel pumps located in the basement (for the backup generators on the 13th floor) failed when the basement flooded with 17 millions of gal of water that reached as high as 18 ft. The loss of MEP services forced the emergency evacuation, on October 31, 2012, of 300 patients who walked or were carried down flights of stairs by hospital staff. (Hundreds more were evacuated in the days leading up to the storm.) Bellevue faced the urgent task of restoring full MEP and elevator services for more than 700 inpatients and thousands of outpatients who rely on the renowned public hospital and Level 1 trauma center.

While Bellevue was closed, the hospital’s patients were disbursed to other medical facilities in the city. Bellevue was reopened in stages. Several primary care clinics, 24-hour walk-in urgent care, and outpatient pharmacy services were available on November 19, less than 3 weeks after Hurricane Sandy. The emergency department was reopened on a limited basis on December 10. The hospital was once again fully operational on February 7, 2013, just 99 days after Hurricane Sandy. "It has been a labor of almost unimaginable scope, but Bellevue is back," said Alan D. Aviles, President of the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs Bellevue. "My gratitude and respect goes out to the army of professionals and laborers from HHC and almost every trade who worked around the clock for over 3 months to restore Bellevue."


Parsons Brinckerhoff performed structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering and provided architectural design services to support the installation of the new switchgear. The firm performed the work on behalf of its client, Gross Electric, Inc., which, with Johnson Controls, Inc., was contracted by Bellevue to design and build new electrical service switchgear representing 40% of the electrical power distribution of the entire hospital campus. Parsons Brinckerhoff provided the structural calculations required to determine the viability of relocating electrical equipment from the basement to the ground floor (to mitigate against future damages caused by flooding) in areas originally intended for office use, and designed the additional structural steel framing and supports to withstand the weight of the new equipment.

Along with the contractors, other consultants, and its client, Parsons Brinckerhoff staff worked around the clock to restore power to the hospital in approximately 9 weeks. The firm, with its architectural subconsultant, Ismael Leyva Architects, provided the general construction requirements to remodel and build out the area for the new electrical service switchgear rooms to meet all necessary building and electric code requirements. Parsons Brinckerhoff also provided the design for the necessary HVAC requirements for these spaces as well as upgrades to the existing fire alarm systems as per code requirements. Following completion of its design efforts, Parsons Brinckerhoff, along with its subconsultant, KM Associates of New York, expedited the filing of the necessary permits with the relevant New York City agencies. The firm is currently designing mitigation efforts for emergency power generation and distribution, fuel oil delivery system, domestic water system, backup steam source and distribution, and medical air/vacuum/gases.