The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just unveiled six winning proposals for the Rebuild by Design competition developed to increase the New York-New Jersey region's climate change resiliency after Superstorm Sandy. Nearly $1 billion in federal funding is being awarded to implement the projects, the largest of which will be a protective system in lower Manhattan to shield against floods and stormwater. The "Big U" project is set to receive $335 million to implement the first phase of the proposal, which will create an earthen "bridging berm" at East River Park.
“The winning proposals are truly transformative and serve as blueprints for how we can safeguard the region and make it more environmentally and economically resilient,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “It’s my hope that Rebuild by Design will inspire other public-private partnerships to spur innovation and resilience in other parts of the country and around the world. By investing in these proposals, we are going to ensure that when the next storm comes, the region will be safer and better prepared.”
BIG’s “Big U” project of flood protection zones will eventually stretch ten continuous miles from West 57th Street to The Battery and up to East 42nd Street. The new green infrastructure will consist of parks and other spaces planted with salt-tolerant trees, shrubs, and perennials to create a resilient urban habitat that absorbs and controls rainwater while also adding new areas for the public to enjoy.
OMA’s Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge project is intended to first provide a coastal defense combining hard infrastructure and soft landscape, and then attempt to slow down rainwater runoff, store excess rainwater and use water pumps and drainage routes to discharge the rainwater.
The Interboro Team’s proposal will transform the Mill River into a “blue-green corridor” that will store and filter water to prevent storm surge flooding. The multi-faceted approach includes mitigating damage from storm surge, storm water runoff and sea level rise by recovering the sediment system and building structures such as constructed marshes, dikes, and cross-structures, as well as managing storm water and creating more housing options in high and dry areas near public transportation.
MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN’s New Meadowlands project will transform New Jersey’s Meadowlands into an integrated system of berms and marshes to reduce flooding potential and protect surrounding communities. The project will create a large natural reserve called Meadowpark which, combined with the berms and marshes, could protect against ocean surges, collect rainfall, reduce sewer overflows in adjacent towns and also provide a recreational space for area residents.
SCAPE/Landscape Architecture devised a system of natural breakwaters that will be built to protect Staten Island by absorbing storm waters while at the same time promoting healthy habitats for marine life including oysters and lobsters.
PennDesign/OLIN’s Lifelines project will protect an important food market in America’s poorest congressional district. In addition to keeping the food hub from flooding, the project will clean up air and water quality while modernizing the industrial waterfront.
“There is no doubt that climate change is real and that it is here,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “As we learn the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, these bold, inventive projects will bring together some of the brightest minds and best ideas to help develop a storm-resilient strategy and ensure that communities throughout New York are armed with innovative practices to protect against future disasters.”