Reports / Reports

The Evaluation of the Design Competition of Rebuild by Design

The unprecedented damage Hurricane Sandy caused along the East Coast of the US, especially
to the densely populated New York and New Jersey coastlines, was a wake-up call to the threat
that weather events pose to our communities. The world has always been plagued by severe and
seemingly intractable problems, including storms, but today, we live with an unprecedented level of
disruption. Things go wrong with more frequency and severity, greater complexity, and with more
inter-related effects. No longer can we afford to simply rebuild what existed before. We must begin
to rethink our recovery efforts, making sure the damaged region is resilient enough to rebound from
future storms.

In order to better protect Sandy-area residents from future climate events the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development and President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force
initiated Rebuild by Design (RBD) to develop fundable solutions that address structural and environmental
vulnerabilities throughout the East Coast region. Recognizing the enormity of this challenge,
the RBD process has looked beyond traditional solutions, supporting new approaches in architectural
design, regional planning and environmental engineering, all of which are set within an innovative
process that combines public, philanthropic and private sector resources and knowledge with
community participation in a design competition.

As a lead funding partner for RBD, the Rockefeller Foundation provided financial support for the
Urban Institute to evaluate the RBD design competition and assess what worked well and what
should be improved in the ongoing management, design implementation and collaborative approach
of RBD. The evaluation also considered to what extent RBD can be regarded as a model for building
national resilience. We are grateful to Carlos Martin and his team from the Urban Institute for the
timely lessons from this evaluation which have helped to inform the Foundation’s urban resilience
work going forward.

We are pleased to share the evaluation with our partners and stakeholders, and to contribute to the
broader learning in the field of urban resilience. By advancing this public-philanthropic collaboration,
we hope to continue to strengthen our nation’s resilience, enabling people, communities and institutions
to be prepared for, withstand and emerge stronger from future shocks and chronic stresses.