John S. Dyson New York Energy Zone

Prepare for an Electrifying Experience!

The Energy Zone is a state-of-the-art science museum designed for the New York Power Authority (NYPA) with the goal to introduce the public to electrical power generation and the role New York plays. The 19,000 sq. ft., two-story facility houses a number of interactive exhibits strategically placed to send visitors through the history and future of electricity. The facility is named after John S. Dyson, a former head of NYPA with a legacy of clean energy and energy efficiency. He is one of the first government officials to address energy conservation, promote reduced electrical waste, and pursue clean, reliable energy sources.

The Energy Zone is full of highly interactive exhibits designed to deliver a free educational experience for young and old. Each visitor receives a personalized ‘Power Pass’ where they begin their journey through the story of electricity. Visitor experiences include traveling back in time with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, drone flight simulation, Clark Energy Control Center operator experience, solar and wind installations, and more. Before experiencing exhibits, visitors are directed into a realistic 3D theater utilizing MAGI film generation where viewers are enlightened about Nikola Tesla and his lasting contributions that shaped our world today.

The Energy Zone’s architecture combines modern and rustic building elements to provide a complimentary setting for the natural surrounding environment and adjacent Roscoe Conklin Park. Visitors are drawn to the entrance by a tall aluminum storefront system showcasing a bright and vibrant lobby. Guests are greeted with illuminated signage and an expansive heavy timber canopy system. The building is clad with a natural stone veneer, fiber-cement siding, and covered with a low sloping standing seam roofing system.

The first floor houses the 3D theater and exhibit spaces while the basement level contains a STEM-focused Innovation Center, conference rooms, offices, and mechanical space. The entire steel structure is supported by caissons designed to accommodate challenging subsurface weathered shale conditions. Relief of a steep 45’ sloped site was mitigated by a 4-tier stone look gravity wall retaining system.

Reduced energy consumption is provided by a geothermal heating system installed below the adjacent parking lot and next to an underground stormwater detention chamber system. Sustainable site design practices also include six electric car charging stations, four bioswales, and a landscape full of native plantings. Eight species of native trees and shrubs were planted along with zero-maintenance meadow grass habitat seed mix.

NYPA partnered with the Utica Zoo and strategically located the Energy Zone at the Zoo campus for an enhanced visitor experience. A second Zoo ticket booth was incorporated into the program and allows members direct access to the Zoo’s Backyards & Barnyards area. Minimal animal disturbances during construction was a crucial factor for project completion.

NYPA’s visitor centers become localized central hubs and international attractions. The Energy Zone continues this in form and operation. Placing the structure in direct relationship to the Zoo, the Energy Zone immediately becomes a prominent facility in the public’s eye, improving the Zoo’s overall aesthetic and diversifies each visitor’s experience.

Services provided by LaBella

Civil Engineering

The civil engineering components of this project included the site plan layout, parking configuration, pedestrian access, utility connections, site grading/earthwork, and a complex system of retaining walls. The project was a challenge as the buildable area on the site was limited and did not fit the need for the proposed 9,250 sq. ft. building. To overcome this challenge, LaBella designed a complex system of retaining walls totaling over 1,600 linear feet.

Utilizing the Redi-Rock retaining wall system, the building was able to be elevated over 45 feet from the bottom of the slope. The projects retaining wall system supports the site on three sides of project while also acting as an extension of the proposed building foundation. A system of interlocking wall sections were designed to create a space that was visually appealing and functional. The terracing splits the overall vertical drop into 10-12 ft. increments where vegetation can establish.

In addition, we worked with the local municipalities to provide appropriate sanitary service, water service, and stormwater management for the project, including a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. Our engineers were involved with the project from start to finish, and through construction administration services.

Mechanical Engineering

The primary heating and cooling system provided for the building is a geothermal water source heat pump system. A vertical well field is utilized with eighteen 400 ft. wells providing approximately 60 tons of thermal cooling and heating capacity. Fourteen water to air heat pumps ranging from 1 ton in capacity up to 6 tons provides the primary heating and cooling and zoning for the building. A natural gas boiler was provided for additional perimeter hydronic heating. Ventilation air is supplied using a dedicated outdoor air supply unit with heat recovery.


Electrical Engineering

The new electrical design included a new 800A 208Y/120V electrical service and a 95kW natural gas generator. Interior lighting consisted of energy efficient LED fixtures with occupant sensors for automatic controls. There were also four electric vehicle charging stations.

Plumbing & Fire Protection Engineering

Plumbing systems include separate domestic and fire protection water services with backflow preventers and approval packages. The ADA compliant gang toilet rooms are equipped with sensor operated flush valves and faucets on all plumbing fixtures. A gas fired water heater with a master anti-scald valve and a return hot water system provides domestic hot water. The building fire protection system has a wet pipe sprinkler system throughout the majority of the building interior. A dry sprinkler protects the main entrance outdoor canopy and the ticket booth, both of which are subject to freezing in winter months. That dry system has a nitrogen generation system (in lieu of only compressed air) to protect the piping from corrosion. The Data Center is protected with a clean agent fire suppression system.

Structural Engineering

Structural Engineering provided a substructure design for a deep foundation drilled pier system with pile caps and grade beams, along with cantilevered basement retaining walls. The superstructure design consisted of a composite floor supported by a steel moment frame system and a masonry elevator shaft.

Featured Press

LaBella Featured in the Daily Sentinel

The John S. Dyson New York Energy Zone project was featured in the Daily Sentinel.

Read Article Here
Additional Press

LaBella Featured in Observer-Dispatrch

The John S. Dyson New York Energy Zone project was featured in the Observer-Dispatch.

Read Article Here
Social Media

Energy Zone Project Featured on Visit Oneida Facebook Page

LaBella’s project was featured in the Fam Bus Friday tour video, where all of the cool things you can do and learn at the Energy Zone are discussed, as well as why it’s such a great spot for people of any age!

See Video Here