By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — An air conditioner big enough to cool 700 houses arrived at the World Trade Center site last week.
Workers are now installing the enormous steel chiller plant, which will eventually cool the new Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH hub, retail space and the 9/11 memorial and museum.
Steve Plate, director of World Trade Center construction for the Port Authority, called the air-conditioning unit “massive” in a presentation on Tuesday and said it is one of the largest in the country.
The chiller plant will draw up to 30,000 gallons of icy water from the Hudson River each minute, enough to fill 15 bathtubs per second. The water will travel through a pump station in Battery Park City and then through giant 66-inch pipes that run beneath West Street and into the Trade Center site.
Once inside the site, the water will flow into the five huge centrifugal chillers that arrived on the site last week, weighing more than 170,000 pounds apiece. The plant will produce enough cold air to cover 1.8 million square feet of mostly public spaces at the Trade Center site.
Part of the chiller plant will open next year, to cool the memorial for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, and the rest will be turned on in 2013, as more of the site’s projects finish.