Hurricane Sandy Highlights Areas Needing Design Innovation In NYC

Hurricane Sandy Highlights Areas Needing Design Innovation In NYC

Protecting transportation, power and communications systems in the future could dramatically alter how the city looks.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 2 november 2012

The wake of hurricane Sandy left vast areas of devastation needing cleanup and repair. This the second hurricane to cross New York City’s path in two years seems to have gotten local politicians to acknowledge that these types of weather events are becoming regular. Infrastructure components such as the power grid, train system and medical facilities took direct hits from flood waters due to their close location to the shore.

Pre-Sandy preparations on Broadway. Pretty sure the water ignored the cones.
photo: MTA

Two years ago, MoMA created an exhibition called Rising Currents which identified 5 zones around the New York City area vulnerable to flooding from rising ocean levels.(top image from ARO and dlandstudio) Though the concerns posed by the show in relation to the storm reality are eerily similar. Architects were asked to devise solutions for managing the water, many of which involved reclaiming and extending green space to act as a buffer. The challenge becomes tricky with Manhattan though with the city already extending right to the water’s edge. Cutting back isn’t practical. This is particularly where design and engineering creativity will have to be applied. Should lower Manhattan somehow float? Should the water become more regulated within the streets like Venice?

Vision 2020 proposal for Brooklyn’s Radar Park in Greenpoint.

The city announced a waterfront redevelopment plan called Vision 2020 last year. Increased public assess in the form of parks is a major goal in shoreline redevelopment. Of the eight goals outlined, the last and final is increase climate resilience.

The Architectural League of New York posted a call to NYC officials to build it back smarter. This is really the opportunity for the city to take a path of innovative problem solving which has the potential of not only securing the future but bolstering the economy. Focus will have to stay on the topic in the months ahead as this whole issue could come back again in just a year’s time.


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