Rebuild by Design was a tremendous collaboration of communities and talent across the Sandy-affected region: ten world-class, interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers, designers, and architects spent nine months understanding the issues and designing solutions. There were meetings with 74 community and issue-based organizations and 157 government entities; walking tours of more than 30 neighborhoods, and more than 60 community workshops, conversations, and outreach events across the region.
This process, supported by Rockefeller Foundation grants to the Municipal Art Society, Regional Plan Association, Van Alen Institute, and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, was a transformative advancement in how the United States offers disaster recovery funding to communities in need.
This process is also reflective of the Foundation’s long-standing belief that cities work best for their communities when they work together. In 1958, the Foundation gave a small grant to a relatively unknown scholar named Jane Jacobs to write a book about neighborhoods and cities. Her book, The Death and Life of American Cities, has become a core text across many disciplines. In it, Jacobs writes:
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Underscoring an achievement in strategic philanthropy and partnership, the HUD awards leveraged the Foundation’s $3.5 million investment in the Rebuild by Design process to nearly a billion dollars of federal funding to build the resilience of communities:
The BIG Team—Lower East Side
$335 M is allocated to implement the first phase of the proposal along the Lower East Side, creating a ‘bridging berm’ at the East River Park.
OMA—Hudson River Region
$230 M is dedicated toward realizing a comprehensive resilience strategy for Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. It provides a unique opportunity to create a new mechanism of public-private financing that is locally-driven but has participation by multiple levels of government as well as investors and property owners.
MIT CAU+ZUS+URBANISTEN—Meadowlands Region
$150 M is allotted for the first phase pilot in the Little Ferry/Moonachie area to restore water-absorbing wetlands. The project also includes the creation of a multi-purpose berm to provide flood protection to the many residents of the community damaged by Sandy flooding, and will create additional wetland.
The Interboro Team—Nassau County
$125 M is allocated to address Southern Nassau’s north-south tributaries, which are threatened both by surge water flooding and storm water inundation. The Interboro proposal addresses these threats through a set of interconnected interventions, transforming the Mill River into a green-blue corridor that stores and filters water, provides public space, and creates room for new urban development.
SCAPE/Landscape Architecture—Staten Island
$60 M is dedicated for the SCAPE proposal to build out the entire Tottenville section of the Living Breakwaters project, which will reduce risk, revive ecologies, and connect educators to the shoreline, thereby inspiring a new generation of harbor stewards and a more resilient region over time.
$20 M is allocated for continued robust planning and study related to the future of the food market and a small pilot/demonstration project (to be selected/identified by the City). This will enable the process to continue and to incorporate whatever investments the private sector and the City commit toward improvements and implementation in the future.