February 2016 in New York was a month of record low temperatures and close to record highs. The changing weather patterns reminded us that even as we work to mitigate climate change, we also need to adapt and become more resilient.
E2 New York’s February event – “Designing for Resiliency in the Age of Climate Change” – explored strategies for building a more resilient future in the New York area. We partnered with Rebuild by Design and the Association for a Better New York (ABNY).
Amy Chester, Managing Director of Rebuild by Design, kicked off the evening by explaining the RBD process. RBD was created in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to develop a smarter approach to post-disaster recovery, by connecting design, funding and implementation strategies. Amy led teams of designers through the greater metropolitan area, where they got to know the region and the needs of the affected communities by talking to people “on the ground.” A design competition was then held to select proposals to be funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In June 2014, a total of $930 million was awarded to six proposals, to fully develop them and begin implementation.
We had the opportunity to hear from the teams behind two of RBD’s award-winning projects. Matthijs Bouw of One Architecture shared the plans for The Big U, a proposal for a protective system around Manhattan, stretching from midtown west to midtown east and protecting a low-lying section that is one of the most densely populated urban areas of the city. This project was awarded $335 million in HUD CDBG-DR funds, and the first phase is being implemented by the City of New York.
Pippa Brashear from SCAPE/Landscape Architects shared her firm’s project for Staten Island, called Living Breakwaters. That project is designed to reduce erosion and storm surges using green infrastructure , while also improving the ecosystem health and biodiversity of the area. $60 million was awarded to this project from HUD CDBG-DR funding and it is being implemented by the New York Governor's Office of Storm Recovery.
It was a fascinating session, and encouraging to learn of the steps being undertaken jointly by the private and public sectors to explore innovative approaches to the challenges posed by our changing climate.
Special thanks to our hosts at Rebuild by Design.
Judy Albert is an E2 New York Chapter Director; Ying Li is E2's Senior Development Coordinator.