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One Year After Sandy, HUD’S ‘Rebuild By Design’ Unveils New And Innovative Proposals To Make Region More Resilient

NEW YORK—One year after Superstorm Sandy hit, 10 teams of international design and resiliency experts released their ideas for ways to make the region more resilient to future storms and other climate events. The Design Teams are participating in Rebuild by Design, an initiative of the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to rebuild the region impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The ideas—41 in total—target communities across the region impacted by Superstorm Sandy: from the Jersey Shore to Lower Manhattan, Newtown Creek to Jamaica Bay and Rockaway, and Nassau County to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Design Teams—selected from more than 140 applicants from around the world—have conducted extensive research and public outreach to develop the resilience concepts, and each team will submit between three and five ideas to HUD for consideration. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan will select one idea from each Design Team to move forward in the next phase, where they will be further developed into formal designs and may be eligible for federal Sandy funding.

“A year ago, when Hurricane Sandy devastated communities in the region, we were reminded of the importance that climate change will play in all development and planning for our communities to become more resilient and sustainable,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “The world-class teams participating in the Rebuild by Design competition today are presenting comprehensive research of the whole Sandy affected region that will provide us with opportunities to implement innovative resilient building ideas and help us avoid the same level of damage brought by Hurricane Sandy. Together with our state and local partners these teams are creating safer and stronger communities.”

“‘Resilience’ is more than a buzz-word—it’s a call to action to prevent the level of devastation that followed Hurricane Sandy and better prepare our region for the future,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “The 10 Design Teams have presented real opportunities to both protect our neighborhoods and revolutionize how we plan our communities going forward. We’re eager to see which ideas move into the design phase, and hope that they all inspire new ways of thinking around planning and development.”

The concepts touch literally every part of our region, particularly in areas that have been historically under considered. The waterfront in Red Hook caught the imagination of several teams with the goal to not only make it more resilient, but also recreate that unique community and make it increasingly attractive to tourism. The challenges inherent in our barrier islands—open to water on both sides—brought a flurry of ideas from perimeter protection to rethinking the local transportation and commercial districts.

New Jersey also received a tremendous amount of consideration. One team suggests taking on the entire shore length and thinking of it as one single, contiguous challenge. There is the justifiable view that these New Jersey shore communities are year-round and need to be addressed accordingly. This translates into thinking about their commercial districts and making sure that attractions built near the water—vital for the tourism that economically benefits these towns—can withstand severe weather. Certain things can be built to be “flood able.”

Our more urban areas in the region need to address the collection and disposal of water that is currently a problem due to inadequate sewer systems and possible stormwater surges. Teams look to change how water is absorbed, guided and blocked in some of our more densely populated areas.

Infrastructure overall is a recurring theme in the Design Teams’ proposals. This includes the literal infrastructure of roads, tracks, bridges and tunnels, but also the technological infrastructure that is a requirement in modern America. Our communications infrastructure including hard wires, mobile technology and the ability to access the Internet are considered an opportunity to dramatically improve our resiliency. One of the overarching lessons of Sandy is that the best fixes and biggest problems drilled down to swift and ready access to communications.

The administration of the Rebuild by Design competition is made possible through support from The Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropic contributions.

The proposals follow three months of in-depth analysis and public outreach, including both one-on-one conversations with people living in affected areas and robust guided conversations between the Design Teams and public.  The Design Teams toured impacted neighborhoods throughout the region, including lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Staten Island, Rockaway, Monmouth County, New Jersey; Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York; and Fairfield and Bridgeport in Connecticut. The regional visits included town halls to hear directly from the local community about their experiences and ideas for protecting their neighborhoods.

The 41 proposals unveiled today will be reviewed and provide with feedback from a range of individuals, experts, and stakeholders, including the general public. Informed by this feedback, HUD will determine which of the proposed ideas each team will pursue. Secretary Donovan’s selections will be announced in early November.

The Design Teams will continue to engage with the public as they continue to develop the selected design idea. The teams will then have until March to develop each design opportunity into a design solution. The design solutions will then be evaluated by a competition jury and HUD will identify the winning solutions, which may be able to be implemented with disaster recovery grants from HUD as well as other sources of public and private-sector funding.

The team names and titles of their ideas are listed below. Descriptions of the submitted projects are attached and also available at


  1. The Big “U”
  2. Long-Term Perspective – Harbor District: Red Hook
  3. Long Term Perspective – South Bronx

HR&A Advisors, Inc. with Cooper, Robertson & Partners

  1. Barrier Island: Beach 116th Street, Rockaways
  2. Mainland Coastal: Asbury Park, New Jersey Shore
  3. Dense Urban Edge: Red Hook, Brooklyn

Interboro Partners

  1. Living with the Marsh: Options for Staten Island’s Eastern Shore
  2. Living with the Creek: Options for Monmouth County Watersheds
  3. Living with the Coast: A Better Day at the Beach
  4. Living with the Bay: Options for Southern Nassau County


  1. Making Resilient Districts
  2. The Meadowlands Area: the 6th Borough
  3. Newtown Creek: Superuse District
  4. Jersey City East – Hoboken
  5. Lower East Side


  1. Planning Principles
  2. Information Systems
  3. Infrastructure Catalyst
  4. Comprehensive Strategy


  1. Staten Island East Shore: Folding the Coastal Plain
  2. Toms River: Reorienting Living on a Shifting Estuary
  3. Jersey City/Hoboken: Flood-Adaptive Design on the Hudson Peninsula
  4. Hunts Point | Securing the Point with Lifelines


  1. Barrier Island
  2. Headlands
  3. Inland Bay


  1. Gardening the Bay
  2. Living, Growing Breakwaters
  3. Barnegat Bay Remade
  4. More Wet Meadow, Less Lands
  5. Hudson Habitat

Unabridged Coastal Collective

  1. Bridgeport Resilience Network
  2. Rockville Resilience Network
  3. Far Rockaway Resilience Network
  4. Long Branch Resilience Network
  5. Toms River Resilience Network

WXY/West 8

  1. Jamaica Bay: Rockaway Restoration
  2. Atlantic Ocean: NJ Coastal Governance
  3. Long Island Sound: Extended Neighbors
  4. Hudson River: Tidal Relationships
  5. East River: New Industrial Waterfront

Media Contact
John Kelly, SKD Knickerbocker, 917-745-7554,