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Hailing Mother Hale in Harlem
Madre Hale en Harlem

Hailing Mother Hale in Harlem

Photos: MTA Photos


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Mother Clara Hale Depot has re-opened.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast was joined this past Thurs., Nov. 20th by New York City Transit officials, union representatives, and community and elected officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the re-opening of the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot in central Harlem.  The depot will open for limited service on Sunday, November 23.

The new depot will house 120 buses serving the M1, M7, M35, and SBS M15 routes when the facility fully opens on January 4.

Mother Clara Hale Depot consists of three fully enclosed floors, a mezzanine and capacity to house 150 buses.  The additional capacity of the new depot will allow the Department of Buses to accommodate fleet growth in the future. The Department of Buses will initially operate 3 routes out of the depot starting Sunday; the M9, SBS M60, and M98 with 31 buses until January.

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“Today marks a true milestone,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

“Today marks a true milestone and the culmination of a strong partnership with the Harlem community in which we have rebuilt this depot from the ground up, in accordance with the world’s leading sustainability standards,” said Chairman Prendergast.  “It’s one of the most environmentally-friendly facilities we’ve ever built with state-of-the-art bus maintenance equipment that will go a long way toward enhancing service while minimizing our footprint on the surrounding community.”

MTA New York City Transit worked with WEACT, a Harlem-based advocacy group, and the area’s local elected officials to create the Mother Clara Hale Depot Community Task Force in 2007.  This collaboration with the Task Force and the community involved all aspects of design of the new depot, with an emphasis on environmental mitigations.  This included convening a first-of-its-kind Community Design Charrette in September 2008 attended by 150 community residents.

The depot’s design incorporates nearly all of the priority elements identified during the charrette including:

  • LEED Certification: The new Mother Clara Hale Depot meets LEED specifications and through the hard work of both the MTA and its contractor, a record setting certification level for the new building is anticipated;
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    Assemblymember Herman “Denny” Farrell.

    Green Roof: A green roof uses plants to cool the facility in the summer by adding an additional layer of insulation and absorbs CO2 from the air. It also reduces storm-water runoff, which contributes to flooding;

  • Thermal Insulation: The depot incorporates a thermal design, which saves energy and reduces emissions;
  • Solar Wall: The south façade of the depot serves an energy-conserving function as a passive heating device.  The dark green wall finish material has tiny perforations that captures air and preheats it in the space between the façade and masonry; warmer air is then drawn in by HVAC units, reducing the need for natural gas;
  • Rainwater Collection: A collection system on the roof sends rainwater into an underground storage tank for use in depot operations.  The water is then treated and recycled to wash buses saving an estimated million gallons of water a year;
  • Efficient Heat Recovery Units (HRU): More cost effective and energy efficient Heat Recovery Units on the roof use a heat exchanger when it is cold outside and;
  • White Roof: The depot has a high efficiency White Roof that will prevent heat gain in warmer weather, but will not reflect light onto neighborhood buildings or cause glare.

In attendance also were State Senator Bill Perkins, State Assemblymembers Herman “Denny” Farrell and Keith Wright.


The Mother Clara Hale Depot, located at 721 Lenox Avenue in Central Harlem, was originally a trolley barn built in 1890 and was structurally modified in 1939 to become the 146 St Bus Depot.  Later, MTA New York City Transit rehabilitated the depot in 1990, renaming it in honor of Mother Clara McBride Hale in 1993.  In January 2009, NYC Transit set out to demolish and rebuild the depot as it was not designed for modern bus operations and could no longer function adequately due to obsolete equipment.

“This is a project several years in the making,” said Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President of Buses for MTA New York City Transit and President of the MTA Bus Company.  “And with the community’s involvement and input from the start, we have been able to deliver a modern, sustainable depot that will serve Manhattan residents for years to come.”

Demolition of the old depot was completed in September 2009 and a design-build contract was awarded to Silverite Construction Company in 2010.  The work on the new depot started immediately with design completed in March 2012 and steel erected by July 2012.  Work continued for the next two years with underground utilities, building amenities, mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, electrical and communication systems, roofing and all the sustainable elements installed.  Testing and commissioning activities  started in March 2014, with final completion in November 2014 of the $262 million project.

New York City Transit also made every effort to use Harlem-based firms and local personnel for the new depot.  The MTA’s Department of Diversity and Civil Rights worked with elected officials, trade unions, and private vendors to model programs which resulted in local training and hiring on the job.  Through these efforts, the MTA and Silverite achieved 25% MBE/WBE participation, including 2% participation for Harlem-based MBE/WBE businesses, provided OSHA training for 49 Harlem residents, and resulted in 48 community residents working directly on the project.

MTA Arts and Design and New York City Transit were also able to incorporate artwork into the depot’s design with significant input from the Task Force and the Harlem-based art community.  The depot’s façade is now beautifully embellished by the first art project coordinated by MTA Arts and Design for a bus depot.

The artist Shinique Smith was selected by an MTA Arts and Design selection committee composed of several accomplished, Harlem arts professionals, and included members of the Task Force.

Mother Hale’s Garden, created by Smith, encompasses large-scale mosaic artwork installed on the east facade of the depot facing Lenox Avenue, and laminated glass artwork in windows on the north and south sides of the building.  The combined square footage for this multi-part, site-specific artwork is approximately 6,672 square feet.

Graced with exuberant, calligraphic strokes, and a vibrant collage containing materials that Smith collected during her visits to the neighborhood, Mother Hale’s Garden is inspired by the loving and generous nature of Mother Hale.  Smith collected clothing, fabric and miscellaneous items from the community surrounding The Hale House and the site of the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot to incorporate in her artwork, a practice she uses in creating much of her work.

A child’s drawing of a bus stop found near the Hale House influenced her deeply and became the source of inspiration for the artwork.  According to Smith, “This (child’s) drawing inspired my palette. We are all connected by childhood dreams and memories threaded through clothing and the things we consume and discard. I have taken these unwanted bits and woven them into a garden in an attempt to embody the spirit of Mother Clara, creating beauty and grace from humble materials.”

Smith also worked with first grade students at PS242 to draw flowers and incorporated the children’s drawings into her glass artwork for the north and south windows of the depot.

Madre Hale en Harlem

Fotos: MTA Photos


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El nuevo depósito de autobuses alojará a la creciente flota en el futuro.

Al presidente y director general de la Autoridad Metropolitana de Transporte (MTA por sus siglas en inglés), Thomas F. Prendergast, se le unieron el pasado jueves 20 de noviembre las autoridades de tránsito de la ciudad de Nueva York, representantes sindicales y de la comunidad, y funcionarios electos para una ceremonia de inauguración para conmemorar la reapertura del depósito de autobuses Madre Clara Hale en el centro de Harlem. El depósito se abrirá para servicio limitado el domingo 23 de noviembre.

El nuevo depósito albergará a 120 autobuses que sirven a las rutas M1, M7, M35 y SBS M15, cuando abra completamente el 4 de enero.

El depósito Madre Clara Hale consta de tres plantas totalmente protegidas, un mezzanine y capacidad para albergar 150 autobuses. La capacidad adicional del nuevo depósito permitirá que el Departamento de Autobuses de cabida a la creciente flota en el futuro. El Departamento de Autobuses operará inicialmente 3 rutas saliendo de la estación a partir del domingo: M9, SBS M60 y M98, con 31 autobuses, hasta enero.

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The new bus depot will allow for future fleet growth.

“Hoy se marca un verdadero hito y la culminación de una fuerte asociación con la comunidad de Harlem a través de la cual hemos reconstruido este depósito a partir de cero, de acuerdo con los estándares de sustentabilidad más importantes del mundo”, dijo el presidente Prendergast. “Es una de las instalaciones más respetuosas del medio ambiente que hemos construido y con equipo de mantenimiento de última generación, y que recorrerá un largo camino para mejorar el servicio y reducir al mínimo nuestra huella en la comunidad circundante”.

MTA Tránsito de la ciudad de Nueva York trabajó con WEACT, un grupo de defensa con sede en Harlem, y funcionarios electos locales de la zona, para crear el grupo comunitario de trabajo Depósito Madre Clara Hale en 2007. Esta colaboración con el grupo de trabajo y la comunidad involucró todos aspectos de diseño del nuevo depósito, poniendo énfasis en las mitigaciones ambientales. Esto incluyó convocar a una reunión pública de diseños comunitarios, la primera en su tipo,  en septiembre de 2008, a la que asistieron 150 residentes de la comunidad.

El diseño del depósito incorpora casi todos los elementos prioritarios identificados durante la reunión pública, incluyendo:

  • Certificación LEEDEl nuevo depósito Madre Clara Hale cumple con las especificaciones LEED, y a través del trabajo duro, tanto de la MTA y de su contratista, se prevé un nivel de certificación récord para el nuevo edificio.
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    El depósito Madre Clara Hale ha reabierto.

    Azotea verde:Una azotea verde utiliza plantas para enfriar la instalación durante el verano, añadiendo una capa adicional de aislamiento y absorción del CO2 del aire. También reduce la escorrentía del agua de lluvia, lo que contribuye a las inundaciones.

  • Aislamiento térmico:El depósito incorpora un diseño término, que ahorra energía y reduce las emisiones.
  • Pared solar:La fachada sur del depósito tiene una función de conservación de energía como dispositivo de calentamiento pasivo. El material verde oscuro del acabado de la pared tiene pequeñas perforaciones que captan el aire y lo precalientan en el espacio entre la fachada y la mampostería; el aire caliente es extraído por las unidades HVAC, reduciendo la necesidad de gas natural.
  • Recolección de agua de lluvia:Un sistema de recolección en el techo envía el agua de lluvia a un tanque de almacenamiento subterráneo para que sea utilizada por el depósito. El agua es tratada y se recicla para lavar los autobuses, ahorrando un estimado de millones de galones de agua al año.
  • Unidades eficientes de recuperación del calor (HRU por sus siglas en inglés):Unidades más rentables, y energéticamente eficientes, de recuperación de calor en el techo utilizan un intercambiador térmico cuando hace frío afuera.
  • Azoteas blancas:El depósito tiene una azotea blanca de alta eficiencia que evitará la acumulación de calor en un clima más cálido, pero no va a reflejar la luz sobre edificios cercanos o causar deslumbramiento.

Entre los asistentes también estuvieron el senador estatal Bill Perkins y los asambleístas estatales Herman “Denny” Farrell y Keith Wright.

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