New York Halts 'Non-Essential' Construction

John Hill
31. March 2020
Better times: BIG's VIA 57 West under construction in 2015 (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Following an executive order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, "all work on non-essential construction and demolition sites is suspended," in response to the spread of COVID-19.

The order includes, of course, New York City, which has been in a prolonged building boom of residential and office towers but hadn't taken the steps of Boston and other cities earlier this month in halting construction

A March 30 letter from the NYC Department of Buildings (PDF link) to "owners and contractors" spells out which construction is considered essential (roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters) while also indicating the protective measures (maintaining social distance, mainly) that they must follow beyond standard practices. 

The executive order reverses an earlier order that included construction in a list of "essential" services. But in the weeks since, work continued on job sites where workers had tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the spread of the virus, endangering workers, and questioning how construction fits into essential services.

Job sites where non-essential construction continues could face fines of $10,000.

A screenshot of "Essential Active Construction Sites" as tracked by NYC DOB, via

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