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Case Study: Javits Center

The extraordinary Javits center is one of the most historic convention centers in America. A colossal structure, at 310,000m2 (3,300,000 sqft) it remains one of the busiest centers in the entire United States. It has held some iconic events, such as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election watching event, and the New York Comic Con. Javits Center also transformed into a COVID-19 treatment center with a total of 1,095 patients during the height of the pandemic, and also acted as a vaccination center shortly after. SMT had the pleasure of installing our FutureCast Automated Leak Detection system as well as using our patented Digiscan 360 for quality assurance on the center’s roof.

As with any large scale project, the Javits Center was not without its challenges. In this post, we will highlight how our team worked with local contractors to complete our instrumentation on this unique and inspiring project.

In this photo, a screw is shown to be embedded in the membrane. This can happen for a multitude of reasons - primarily because a site of this size requires hundreds of crews working in tandem, with constant heavy construction traffic moving through areas that are not yet protected. With all this coming and going across unprotected membranes, it is natural that some construction materials (nails and screws) as well as miscellaneous items like drinks bottles will get scattered and become embedded in the soft membrane tissue. This poses a problem for the integrity of the roof; creating deficiencies, cuts, and holes that stop the membrane from being a continuous “shield” for the roof - the proverbial chink in the armour of the structure. Holes in the membrane today will cause leaks for tomorrow, so it’s very important that our SMT Technicians locate all possible problems using our available tools. After this was located by one of our Technicians, we were able to repair this imperfection, saving the building owners from a leak later on.

During the many stages of construction, various journeymen work in tandem with our technicians. Mistakes are bound to happen, as with all human design. Here is a photo captured by a technician, of our tape having been damaged. Damaged components will make readings inaccurate which is why we make sure to double and triple check our work, so we can catch imperfections like this before they become a problem. We are a data first company, and this extends to how our technicians record their activity on site. A picture of a particular detail might become invaluable ten, fifteen, even twenty years in the future when all of this roofing technology has been long since covered by insulation, pavers, or perhaps a green roof. Knowing what is under the roof, or “making the invisible, visible” is at the core of how we approach structure monitoring; being aware on site, and keeping diligent records, is the first step in this process.

Often on a site, there are few options to place garbage and other debris. The placement of said debris, however, can pose an issue for our technicians. Garbage and other debris gets in the way of placing our DigiStars and other components needed to install FutureCast. Not only does construction waste cause unnecessary delays to our schedule, but also creates more opportunity for damage to the waterproof integrity of the structure. From our HQ to our technicians in the field, SMT works closely with both the roofing contractors and site supervisors to ensure we are doing our work in a timely fashion and that they always have up to date knowledge of our movements so that they can instruct other trades to move their materials around in the most efficient manner possible. After all, time is money! Our own installation produces very little waste, and it is part of our internal quality assurance procedures that our technicians leave the site as tidy, if not tidier, than they found it.

Our work with the Javits center, while challenging at times, was incredibly rewarding as well. It’s not often that SMT has the opportunity to work on a structure with such rich history and cultural significance. From hosting politically charged events, to fandom conventions, and acting as a vital resource during times of disaster, Javits has many roles that require a reliable structure. In order to maintain such a key structure (and all the things in it), we put our expertise to work and were able to come up with monitoring solutions that will help this building thrive for years to come. We’re thankful for the opportunity to work with them, and hope to have similar projects in the future.


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