Architects Plans to Fortify NYC from Future Storms 

Architectural Digest

Bjarke Ingels Group’s winning proposal, the “BIG U,” is a ten-mile network of parks, berms, and public spaces that will act as a natural barrier against floodwater. Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group Close

Bjarke Ingels Group’s winning proposal, the “BIG U,” is a ten-mile network of parks,... Read More

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Bjarke Ingels Group’s winning proposal, the “BIG U,” is a ten-mile network of parks, berms, and public spaces that will act as a natural barrier against floodwater. Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Lush wetlands, elevated parks, and snaking berms are just some of the innovative solutions proposed by six teams that won the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s competition called “Rebuild by Design.” HUD and the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force created the competition in 2013 in response to Sandy’s devastating impact on the region. The yearlong search called for schemes to protect coastal areas in and around New York City from future storms and ever-rising tides.

A color-coded guide to Team BIG’s “BIG U.” Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

A color-coded guide to Team BIG’s “BIG U.” Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Among the six winners (culled from 148 international applicants) is a team led by Danish design firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), whose plan—appropriately called the “BIG U”—runs from West 57th Street down to the Battery and back up to East 42nd to form a ten-mile network of verdant public spaces and land barriers around lower Manhattan. “The BIG U will not only make the waterfront more resilient, but also more accessible and inviting to the citizens around it,” says Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG and a 2011 AD Innovator. Of the $920 million total funding allocated to “Rebuild by Design” projects, $335 million will go to constructing the first arm of the “BIG U” on the Lower East Side.

Founding partner of BIG Bjarke Ingels in his Manhattan office Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Founding partner of BIG Bjarke Ingels in his Manhattan office Photograph courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture will work in collaboration with 2013 AD Innovator and landscape designer Diana Balmori and others on a plan to strengthen the defenses in New Jersey’s waterfront cities. The four other winning teams will lend a hand to seaside areas in the Bronx and Staten Island, parts of outer Long Island, and New Jersey’s Meadowlands.

HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, New York senator Charles Schumer, and Zia Khan, vice president for initiatives and strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation, announced the winning proposals earlier this week.

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