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HUD Selects Project Opportunities to Advance in Final Phase of Design Competition to Make Sandy-Impacted Region More Resilient

WASHINGTON—U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the project opportunities that will be pursued by each of the ten teams advancing to Stage 3 of the Rebuild by Design competition. Each team will now spend the next five months working with local and regional stakeholders in developing projects and design approaches to increase resilience in the region affected by Superstorm Sandy. The goal is to arrive at projects that are implementable and fundable, leveraging the variety of federal recovery investments being made in the region.

Rebuild by Design was initiated by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as an unprecedented multi-stage regional design competition with a goal of rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to be more resilient, sustainable, and livable. The competition has stimulated regional, cross-disciplinary collaboration between state and local governments, international design teams, educational institutions, and the public. Funding for the administration of Rebuild by Design has come from The Rockefeller Foundation, Community Foundation of New Jersey, and other philanthropic and nonprofit institutions and shows how private groups can help leverage the resources of the federal government for the good of the public.

“The Rebuild by Design competition is bringing forward thinking and innovative ideas to help the region impacted by Hurricane Sandy rebuild even stronger than before,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “As we continue coping with our changing climate, the resulting projects will not only make communities more resilient and sustainable, but also be a model of how we can better prepare for future natural disasters.”

“The projects designated by Secretary Donovan to move forward in the Rebuild by Design process define building resilience. Each is thoughtful, innovative and will ultimately inform development in locations facing similar challenges,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “The ten teams bring together an amazing array of talents and expertise that in concert completely re-imagine how we approach, talk about and execute projects along the shore and in cities. The Rockefeller Foundation is focused on helping communities build greater resilience to shocks and stresses and we are proud of our involvement in this seminal undertaking.”

“This is an important moment for our state and region,” said Hans Dekker, the president of the Community Foundation of New Jersey. “We have to take this opportunity to rebuild in the smartest and most resilient manner. Rebuild by Design allows us to have the best thinking in the world brought to bear on that challenge.”

“The ten teams selected for the Rebuild by Design competition were comprised of architects, landscape architects, engineers and thinkers all of who worked in the interest of our city and our region,” said Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, president, AIANY and Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, president-elect, AIANY. “The AIA New York Chapter commends the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the finalists for concentrating on the implementation of scalable proposals and buildable ideas that, in HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s words, ‘will save lives and protect communities.’ New York City is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and the Rebuild by Design competition helps enormously to restore confidence that intelligent architecture and cogent planning can create safe, sustainable and resilient communities for the 21st century.”

“Extraordinary challenges often inspire innovative solutions,” said Paul Farmer, FAICP, chief executive officer, American Planning Association. “This Rebuild by Design initiative has captured the passion and creativity of design professionals whose collaborations have produced solutions that are both visionary and pragmatic, and the result will surely be a more resilient region.”

“Hurricane Sandy showed that social vulnerabilities are very much tied to economic and physical vulnerabilities across the region. Rebuild by Design aims at bridging the gap between these and reconnecting people and places,” said Henk Ovink, former director general for Spatial Planning and Water Affairs of the Netherlands, principal for ‘Rebuild by Design,’ and Senior Advisor to Secretary Donovan, Sandy Task Force / HUD. “The overall research the ten teams accomplished builds towards an inspiring new narrative of resilience for this region. And the proposed projects are only the beginning of a new standard in embracing the future. This collaborative process demonstrates that real regional resilience can be achieved by new coalitions that bridge the barriers between sectors, communities and governments, connecting on the ground urgencies with ambitious goals and long term perspectives and through inspiration, innovation and design.”

These project opportunities came out of an in-depth research phase in which the teams gained a deeper understanding about the region and its diverse vulnerabilities. The selected opportunities were chosen from a total of 41 innovative proposals submitted by the Rebuild by Design teams on October 28th. All 41 proposals were on display and the public was invited to submit written feedback on them. On October 28th, 1,000 people attended a public event at NYU and 300 people attended an event at NJIT. Each proposed opportunity incorporates innovative design solutions to building the resilience throughout the Sandy-affected region, including New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Driven by the diversity of risk, vulnerability, and interdependencies in the affected region- from the complex and compact urban space of New York City to more rural settings with proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its tributaries- the selected opportunities fall into two general categories, City and Shore. The resulting projects that emerge from the next stage of the competition will serve as models that other parts of the region and country with similar concerns and vulnerabilities can adopt.

The advancing project opportunities are:

The City:

“The Big ‘U'”

The BIG Team proposes a tailor-designed, community driven, integrated protection system, wrapping Manhattan from West 57th Street down to The Battery and up to East 42nd Street.

“New Meadowlands Productive City + Regional Park”

MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN proposes a Resilient District combining an innovative urban mix of residential and logistics around a regional tidal park.

“Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: a comprehensive strategy for Hoboken”

Hoboken is susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. OMA’s project capitalizes on a combination of political, ecological, and economic factors to create a comprehensive flood strategy – resist, delay, store, discharge – that both defends the entire city, and enables commercial, civic, and recreational amenities to take shape.

“Hunts Point| Lifelines”

PennDesign/OLIN looks at jobs and the city’s food supply as critical resilience infrastructure, and communities as powerful integrators of economic, social and ecological potential to strengthen the whole, rather than the water’s edge alone.

“Resilient Bridgeport Network”

unabridged Coastal Collective’s project will build the spaces and programs for the South End of Bridgeport to become more self-sufficient through public safety, education and job training, community activities, and a mix of commercial and housing functions fostering connections between people. The City’s proposed Green Collar Institute will become part of the resilience within this neighborhood, training people for green industrial processes, building retrofitting, construction disassembly and salvage, landscaping, environmental remediation, renewable energy, and materials upcycling research and development.

The Shore:

“Living with the Bay: Resiliency-Building Options for Nassau County’s South Shore”

Interboro Team proposes a collection of resiliency-building options for communities on Nassau County’s South Shore; while the safety of residents during future extreme weather events is the main goal of these initiatives, each seeks to also enhance the quality of everyday life in non-emergency times.

“Resilience + The Beach: Integrating Culture, Economy, and Ecology for the Future Jersey Shore”

Informed by a close reading of cultural, economic, and ecological conditions, the Sasaki team takes a regional look at the Jersey shore to test solutions that rethink three iconic elements of the human experience of the shore – the pier, the boardwalk, and the marina – in order to help coastal communities adapt and strengthen in the face of ongoing sea level rise and storm threats.

“Living Shorelines & Habitat Breakwaters Staten Island/Raritan Bay”

SCAPE/LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE proposes to step down risk for coastal communities by pairing living, growing breakwaters with absorptive shoreline edges, and to work with local communities and schools to engage this new harbor landscape through stewardship/science-based programming and enhanced fishing & recreational opportunities.


“Coastal Commercial Resiliency Financing”

Working with businesses, merchants associations, and local government in up to three vulnerable areas in New York City and on the New Jersey shore HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson & Partners will create a replicable financial tool to enable implementation of temporary and long-term physical and operational interventions, protecting critical local businesses from future extreme weather events and climate change.

“Designing with Nature for the Future of the Mid-Atlantic Coast”

WXY/WEST8 will model the risks and benefits of large-scale natural barriers designed for individuals, communities and the region.


The 10 Rebuild by Design teams advancing to Stage 3 of the competition were selected from 148 applications from experts across the region, country, and world. Each team participated in an extensive research process coordinated by the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University and then identified up to five potential design opportunities that address resilience and sustainability challenges across the region.

These project opportunities will emphasize resilience and collaboration. Creating a culture of resilience also requires investments in public education, communications campaigns, and building the capacity of local governments, institutions, and community agencies and groups to lead initiatives.


Resilience in the region is dependent upon harnessing ecological assets. For example, by strategic restoration of ecological and coastal habitats, wave action from storm surges can be significantly reduced – thereby reducing need for higher and higher floodwalls to keep the water at bay.

These innovative ideas are not just looking at how to build a better wall, but are exploring ways that well-designed boardwalks and promenades can provide equal levels of flood protection while doubling as urban amenities.

The teams are addressing our need to continue to have enjoyable everyday access to waterfronts without creating fortress environments.

Resilience leads to a more comprehensive approach to planning and redevelopment, one that integrates existing landscapes and natural capital assets with housing, infrastructure, and amenity needs. A principal focus of the competition is that storm protection measures can also provide improved community amenities. For example, communities rely on the capacity of their local businesses. By focusing on the role that local commercial corridors play, not only in day-to-day vitality but most critically after unexpected stress, has the potential to catalyze sustainable economic development.

Underpinning every community in the region are social infrastructures, networks that connect people to one another and the needs around them. The design opportunities being pursued strengthen existing social networks and create new resilience-building connections in communities across the region.

Finally, it is critical that resilient recovery and rebuilding addresses underlying obstacles that inhibit the economic competitiveness of this region, both nationally and internationally.


Rebuild by Design now heads into Stage 3, when Design Teams begin to work with local community leaders to collaboratively develop design solutions in partnership. This stage involves building results-focused coalitions in local communities, which include partners critical to the design and ultimate implementation of each initiative, and broader consultative processes with local stakeholders. Planning and implementation workshops will be held and an ambitious public communications and outreach program will be launched in early winter to engage the public, highlighting challenges and opportunities.

The opportunities being developed by the ten teams will require comprehensive and integrated approaches delivered through the deep engagement of each Design Team. In addition, Stage 3 will include continued opportunities for cross-project integration with other rebuilding activities on the ground to develop an innovative, ambitious agenda for resilience by design.


HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.