When Hurricane Sandy brought catastrophic destruction to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut three years ago, government officials and designers seized the opportunity to shape space at an unprecedented scale through Rebuild by Design, a 2013 competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD, in collaboration with local partners, including the Municipal Art Society and The Van Alen Institute, selected six teams (and one finalist) to create resiliency plans for seven coastal areas in three states. HUD allocated $930 million to implement the first phases of the plans. As of September 2015, each proposal was scaled (and renamed) to suit available funding. AN checked in on the six winning teams to learn where they are in the process of community engagement, design, and development.
The Hunts Point Resiliency Implementation Project (PennDesign/OLIN) builds off of the Hunts Point Lifelines proposal for a mostly industrial area in the South Bronx. The iterative process led to a pilot project that will include economic development around green jobs; an off-the-grid power station; levees; and a waterfront park. In case all roads flood completely, the pilot also calls for an emergency energy supply station that can be accessed by sea. Hunts Point Lifelines received $20 million from HUD and $25 million from the city. RFPs for design and planning work will be out before the end of 2015.
BIG’s initial proposal, BIG U, called for ten miles of continuous waterfront flood protection, from Manhattan’s East 42nd Street, to the Battery, and looping up the west side to 57th Street. The project was scaled down and renamed the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR). The $335 million project calls for floodwalls, berms, and retractable flood barriers in the East River from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street. The financial backing ESCR will receive underscores the project’s importance: the city is putting an additional $100 million in capital funding towards the ESCR. Pending approval from stakeholders, construction will begin in 2017.
On Staten Island’s southeastern shore, the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) received $60 million from HUD to mitigate flood risk by protecting coastal habitats and preserving coastal ecosystems. Living Breakwaters (SCAPE/Landscape Architecture) calls for offshore breakwaters and vegetated dunes to soften large waves and prevent shoreline erosion. The design’s expected completion date is 2017, with a subsequent 30-month construction period.
Living with the Bay (Interboro) addresses the Mill River, a north-south tributary in Nassau County, Long Island. An existing dam on Hempstead Lake will be restored, while an improved drainage system and valves that keep water flowing in one direction will prevent natural tidal flow from mixing with the mostly man-made stormwater system. Currently, applications are open for a Citizen’s Advisory Committee that will gather feedback on, and promote awareness of, the project. GOSR was allocated $125 million from HUD for the project, but no RFPs are out at this time.
Hudson River: Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge (OMA) addresses flooding in the New Jersey river towns on the mouth of the Hudson. Hoboken, Weehawken, and Jersey City are vulnerable to flooding with high tides, heavy rainfall, and storm surges. Hard landscaping (seawalls) as well as soft (berms styled into parks) will provide protection during high tides and storm surges. To capture runoff and improve discharge, the plan suggests swales, green roofs, bio-retention basins, and upgrades to current storm water management systems. An overarching umbrella of green policy recommendations will guide the physical improvements. HUD awarded $230 million to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs to carry out Phase One of the project. As of June 2015, the team is engineers are collecting data on water and ground conditions for a feasibility study.
New Meadowlands: Productive City + Regional Park (MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN) has an initial award of $150 million to secure and reintegrate 14 mostly low-density communities in and around New Jersey’s Meadowlands. The eastern edge of the Meadowlands, as well as the southern and northern tips, will be the first pilot areas within the larger site. The plan has two main programmatic components: the meadow park and the meadow band. The meadow park is a system of marshes and berms that opens up the marsh to recreation while shielding the coastline from floods. The meadow band is the meadow park’s edge condition, creating growth infrastructure for surrounding towns, a Bus Rapid Transit lane, and public recreation facilities while allowing access to the meadow park. Anticipating storm surges up to ten feet, the project calls for a network of primary berms rising seven to 23 feet, with some secondary, seven-foot berms for additional protection.