Archtober Building of the Day #30
Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility
472 2nd Avenue, 29th Street Pier, Brooklyn
Eadaoin Quinn, the education and administrative coordinator at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Facility presented a classroom full of Archtober enthusiasts with a detailed and informative presentation of the automated process of material sorting and recovery that is recycling. Quinn told us about the machinery of sorting, starting with the “liberator shredder,” which opens the large garbage bags that recyclables arrive in by truck or barge.
Each step of the almost entirely automated process has a purpose-built system of conveyor belts and sorting machines that transform bags of trash into re-sellable bales of like material. The sorting processes themselves are interesting: the Ballistic Separator is comprised of rotating planes that push flat plastic bags up an inclined plane while, at the same time, glass is broken and sent downward to another conveyor. The Eddy Current separator can distinguish between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Optical sorters can “see” what kind of plastic is passing by on the belt, and signal a puffer to blow the lighter material out of the line onto another conveyor.
Today was cleaning day, so we did not get to see all of these machines in action. But we did see 400 tons of trash waiting to make its way into the process.
Selldorf Architects received an AIANY 2014 Merit Award in Architecture for the structure that houses the piles of trash and the machines that sort and bale them. The Design Awards jury stated: “Extraordinary project. Not many people are capable of recognizing how construction to cover garbage can be nice.” Alas, none of the building’s architects attended the tour. Too bad, because it was a spectacular day out there on the Gowanus waterfront. There was a good sized crowd, and a couple of really smart kids asking intelligent questions.