Gensler has re-imagined NYC with town squares that could protect against flooding and power outages when the next Sandy-like storm strikes. The project is part of the global design firm’s Town Square Initiative, which aims to redesign open spaces in urban areas to make them more sustainable and people-friendly. For New York, Gensler created a proposal called “Reframing the Spaces Between: From Blight to Bright Reimagining the Allen Street Pedestrian Mall.” The project was recently nominated for a Place by Design award at this year’s SXSW Eco conference.
The project focuses on the Allen Street Pedestrian Mall, but the principles of resiliency, community and sustainability would apply to all of the more than 5 million square feet of unused space in New York City. Gensler imagines that their town squares could generate localized alternative energy to prevent the sort of mass blackouts that occurred in lower Manhattan and other parts of the city during Hurricane Sandy. Instead of relying on one distributed power station, the local energy ecosystem would include wind turbines, solar panels and other sources of renewable electricity.
An elaborate storm water management system would collect rainwater runoff which would serve to reduce the burden on the city’s sewage system during intense periods of rainfall like during Hurricane Sandy. This will mitigate the damage from flooding during natural disasters.
Another feature includes organic waste recycling, which would help to limit the nearly one million tons of organic waste dumped in landfills every year. And the new town squares would be designed for bicyclists and pedestrians instead of automobiles.
Images via Gensler