Subterranean garbage chutes and a cooling system for trees: The crazy tech behind Hudson Yards

The NYC mega-development will also include a next-level data stack, an app for residents and its own power plant

Hudson Yards, New York City’s glittering new mega-development, officially opens next month, meaning the public is just weeks away from getting a look at an array of shops and public spaces as well as new tech that cools tree roots from below and sends garbage racing down chutes at 45 miles per hour.

Touted as the largest private real estate development in U.S. history, Hudson Yards has been in the works for more than a decade, including both planning and construction phases. It is now finally slated to officially open on March 15. The project sits in the middle of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, on top of a rail yard, and includes more than 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space spread out among a forest of glassy towers.

Parts of Hudson Yards have already opened, and construction on the entire project is not finished, but the March date represents the first time the public will get an up-close view of various squares, restaurants, and a high-profile artwork dubbed “Vessel.”

A rendering of 10 Hudson Yards and 30 Hudson Yards | Credit: Hudson Yards // The Related Companies

Since its inception, Hudson Yards has attracted a volume of attention matched only by its gargantuan size. New York City-based developer The Related Companies won the bid to build on the site in 2008, and today the company’s press materials describe it as the “fulfillment of a remarkable collaboration that includes a talented group of visionaries.”

The development’s various amenities will include more than 100 stores, eateries “curated” by Thomas Keller (the chef and owner of the famous French Laundry restaurant in California), a “center for artistic invention,” publics spaces, a school, a hotel, and about 4,000 residential units.

Not all of the project’s attention, however, has been glowing. Previously, Hudson Yards suffered from cost overruns and labor disputes. Critics have also taken issue with its public subsidies, potential impact on New York food culture, and design as a kind of self-contained city.

In a story published Tuesday, New York Magazine described the project as a “billionaire’s fantasy city,” highlighting a lingering concern that it will end up as a glimmering neighborhood for the wealthy.

A rendering of Hudson Yards, as viewed from Central Park | Credit: Hudson Yards // The Related Companies

Whatever happens, though, one of the project’s most eye-catching features is its array of technology, which was also highlighted by New York Magazine. Among other things, the building reportedly will have garbage chutes to send trash barreling downward at 45 miles per hour. En route, trash will be dehydrated and ground up.

The high-speed chutes will allow the buildings to operate sans garbage trucks.

A rendering of Hudson Yards | Credit: Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards also reportedly will include a water-based system to cool the roots of plants and trees on the site. The system, which uses pipes running through decking, will counteract the heat of up to 150 degrees generated by trains running beneath the buildings.

Other tech features reportedly include a fiber optic communications network, a resident app and a data storage system the developers hope will make Hudson Yards more adaptable to future technologies.

Project officials did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for more information about these technologies.

However, one official did tell New York Magazine that Hudson Yards will also have a pair of its own power plants. The plants will run on natural gas, and excess heat will be reused by the buildings’ climate control systems.

“If the entire Eastern Seaboard goes down,” Joanna Rose, a Related Companies executive vice president told New York Magazine, “you can plug in your phone at Hudson Yards.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II