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10 Innovative Designs Unveiled for Post-Sandy Resilience

Samuel Carter - Former Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

Last Thursday, Rebuild by Design’s ten teams presented their final Design Proposals to build resilience in communities across the Sandy-affected region. The proposals are as ambitious as they are innovative, ranging from a comprehensive flood protection plan for Hoboken, NJ to the construction of a new system of barrier islands stretching from New Jersey to Rhode Island.

The ten ideas have already begun to catch the attention of residents, policymakers, and big thinkers everywhere, and the competition—which was named one of the Top 10 Ideas of 2013 by CNN—is proving to be a critical innovation lab for coastal resilience.

The Rockefeller Foundation was the lead partner with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)in Rebuild by Design. HUD will award some of the billions of recovery funds allocated by Congress to implement the winning designs, which will be announced later this month.

See the ten finalists’ designs below:

RBD - 1

The HR&A/Cooper Robertson team has created innovative concepts to enhance the resiliency and economic vitality of the Sandy-affected region’s coastal commercial corridors and the neighborhoods that surround them. Retail is the lifeblood of communities, providing jobs, critical goods and services, and neighborhood gathering places.

RBD - 2

Storms of the future are likely to be more intense and frequent, and they certainly will be more costly. While we cannot predict when the next storm will come or what it will look like, we are learning about how oceans behave, in terms of their physical dynamics (currents and waves), the habitats they support, and the interrelationship between the dynamics, geomorphology and habitats.

RBD - 3

The 1-square mile of Hunts Point peninsula is the intersection of the local and the regional in rebuilding by design. What’s at risk in Hunts Point is the hub of the food supply for 22 million people, a $5 billion annual economy, over 20,000 direct jobs, and livelihoods of people in the poorest U.S. Congressional District.

RBD - 5

Resilient Bridgeport is a prototype for the region’s coastal cities that consists of a resilience framework and specific design proposals. It focuses on how to protect Bridgeport against climate change and flooding caused by storm surge and rainfall, while stimulating environmental restoration, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization. The resilience framework is a set of integrated coastal, urban, and riparian design strategies and planning principles.

RBD - 4

The Big U is a protective system around Manhattan, driven by the needs and concerns of its communities. Stretching from West 57th street south to The Battery and up to East 42th street, the Big U protects 10 continuous miles of low-lying geography that comprise an incredibly dense, vibrant, and vulnerable urban area.

RBD - 6

The New Meadowlands project articulates an integrated vision for protecting, connecting, and growing this critical asset to both New Jersey and the metro­politan area of New York. Integrating transportation, ecology, and development, the project transforms the Meadowlands basin to address a wide spectrum of risks, while providing civic amenities and creating opportunities for new redevelopment.

RBD - 7

Our team’s research and design strategies focus on the value of “the beach,” a place of special significance to memory, state and local economies, and a vital component of coastal ecosystems. New Jersey’s northern shore is an ideal place to study the identity and function of the beach, since it includes the three coastal typologies found across the eastern seaboard of the United States: Barrier Island, Headlands, and Inland Bay.

RBD - 8

The Living Breakwaters project reduces risk, revives ecologies, and connects educators to the shoreline, inspiring a new generation of harbor stewards and a more resilient region over time. Staten Island sits at the mouth of the New York Bight, and is vulnerable to wave action and erosion.

RBD - 9

Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken are susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. As integrated urban environments, discreet one-house-at-a-time solutions do not make sense. What is required is a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the density and complexity of the context, galvanizes a diverse community of beneficiaries, and defends the entire city, its assets and citizens.

RBD - 10

How do we keep Long Islanders safe in the face of future extreme weather events and sea-level rise? How do we ensure that the next big storm won’t be as devastating to the region as Sandy? And what can we do to improve the water quality and quality of life in the region? What can we do to make “bay life” safer, healthier, more fun, and more accessible?

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