Amazing proposals to aim and protect New York against a hurricane
Organized by a project called ‘Rebuild By Design’, some of the plans have evocative names, like ‘Blue Dunes’. They share a bottom-up approach for creating urban and regional design solutions that invest in the concerns and needs of local communities. This gallery below
features selected highlights from the design proposals. See and read everything at the Rebuild By Design website.
1. Down The Shore
This design proposes “water hubs” along the south shore of Staten Island: public open spaces protected by offshore breakwaters. In addition to providing amenities for swimming, kayaking, bird watching, community science labs, and other recreation pursuits, the breakwaters and open beach space would help buffer inland communities from storm surges, rising sea levels due to global warming.
2. The Big U
The ‘Big U’ would run 10 miles, from Manhattan’s West 57th street south to the tip of the island (the Battery), and back up to East 42th street. The system’s berms, storm walls, and other structures shield several densely populated, economically active, low-laying neighborhoods from storm surges, while also providing new park and other public spaces.
The Big U includes ‘deployable walls’. Flipped down they block storm surges and flooding. Flipped up, they can be decorated by neighborhood artists to create an inviting ceiling above the East River Esplanade, and lit at night to make the area safer for pedestrians.
3. Protection for Long Island’s South Shore
This proposal for protecting the south shore of Nassau County on Long Island creates an integrated system of open spaces and waterways, including new marsh islands and an inland ‘blue-green corridor’ of rivers and streams, to contain, store, and filter storm water.
The design team’s ‘buffered bay’ scenario includes restoring or replacing coastal marshlands along Nassau County’s southern coastline, to help protect areas inland while also improving the bay’s water quality, wildlife habitat, and coastal recreation options. They would be coupled with improved “housing options in high and dry areas near public transportation” to lessen the human and infrastructure costs of the next superstorm.
4. A comprehensive strategy for hoboken
Superstorm Sandy’s flood surge devastated Hoboken: the low-lying New Jersey city just across the Hudson River from downtown Manhattan. The proposal for strengthening Hoboken’s resilience includes both hard (walls) and soft (open landscapes) defenses to resist future flooding
- infrastructure that would slow down and delay rainwater runoff
- giving natural and artificial drainage systems more time to cope with the flow
- extra capacity to store heavy quantities of flood and rainwater
- new pumping systems and drainage routes to discharge floodwaters safely
5. Hunts Point Lifelines
South Bronx’s Hunts Point peninsula sits at the confluence of the Bronx and East rivers. The area contains a massive distribution hub for the metro area’s food supply. It’s also part of the poorest congressional district in the country, and residents contend with scarce green space, as well as high air pollution, which have contributed to high rates of illness including diabetes, respiratory and heart disease.
The Hunts Point Lifelines proposal seeks to integrate economic growth and environmental health into its solutions resilience: Building and maintaining storm-ready waterside infrastructure would create jobs, as well as new parks and esplanades, and “local investment in newly protected ground.”
6. Marine emergency supply chain
A proposed marine hub for emergency aid during disasters takes advantage of Hunts Point’s location at the meeting of two major regional waterways. The same pier could be used for community events and commercial fishing operations at other times.
7. Resilience & The Beach
The scenario for improving the resilience of New Jersey shore towns is one of the most complex: It has to to tackle the economic, cultural, and emotional needs people associate with ‘the beach’, while also incorporating different geological and environmental factors. For Asbury Park, the proposal includes
- a protective, yet accessible, boardwalk-dune combo infrastructure along the oceanfront
- green, hyper-absorbent streets to contain and filter flood water while draining it into coastal lakes ringed with with wetlands
8. Blue Dunes
Blue Dunes: ‘The Future of Coastal Protection’ envisions the creation of a chain of offshore barrier islands running hundreds of miles, from the open ocean waters off New Jersey’s northern beaches, past New York City (about 573 miles of coastline), to a bit beyond Montauk Point, the southeastern tip of Long Island. The islands would not prevent storm surges, but would weaken them on their way toward land, where they could be further mitigated by other adaptation measures. The new islands could also restore lost coastal habitat for birds, fish and other aquatic species. The design team’s ‘ultimate goal is not the mastery of nature, or the avoidance of sea level rise’, according to its public materials. “Instead we seek to understand and work with the processes of nature to create a multi-layered system with the inherent capacity to adapt and change over time.”