To mark the beginning of the hurricane season, Hurricane “Irene” caused fear with those living on the east coast of the United States. On the last weekend of August the calm before the storm in New York was literally over. With a wind speed of over 150 kilometers per hour, Hurricane “Irene” advanced along the East Coast of the United States toward the city. With “only” 100 kilometers per hour the tropical storm with a width of more than 1.000 kilometers hit the metropolis causing heavy rainfall, severe flooding and electric power outages in Manhattan.
As a precaution, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a state of emergency for the Big Apple. Residents living close to the waterfront were evacuated, stores remained closed and even the operation of elevators in high-rise buildings was stopped. For the first time in the history of the city public transportation was shut down. Updates and warnings did not only run on TV and radio. Widely visible warnings against the hurricane and the resulting suspension of service on subways and buses were shown at the Mediamesh®façade by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG, which had been installed at the Port Authority Bus Terminal a couple of weeks earlier.
Just 500 meters from Times Square, the pulsating heart of the city, the 552 m² transparent Mediamesh® façade, designed as a corner façade, reaches 200.000 passers-by a day. Over 4 million pixels, arranged 5 cm apart vertically and 4.25 cm horizontally, ensure the high-quality reproduction of moving images and sophisticated graphics in daylight. Designed as an advertising platform, the system proved its versatility under extreme conditions.
GKD’s managing partner Stephan Kufferath was one of those experiencing the hurricane first hand. Due to the closing of all airports in the city, his return flight from New York to Germany was cancelled. “The people were very disciplined, the city got off with a slap on the wrist,” he wrote. He was particularly delighted that the largest Mediamesh®façade in the world resisted hurricane-force wind on Times Square. “The vibration of the storm was entirely absorbed by the spring assemblies, the LED boards did not fail.”