Organized by Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Rebuild by Design was a multistage regional design competition aimed at developing innovative projects to protect and enhance Sandy-affected communities. The OMA, Balmori Associates, Royal Haskoning, HR & A proposal Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge for Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken was awarded $230 million.
Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken are susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. As integrated urban environments, discreet one-house-at-a-time solutions do not make sense. What is required is a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the density and complexity of the context, galvanizes a diverse community of beneficiaries, and defends the entire city. Our comprehensive urban water strategy deploys programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense (resist); policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff (delay); a circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater (store); and water pumps and alternative routes to support drainage (discharge).
Our approach is framed by a desire to understand and quantify flood risk. In doing so, we are better positioned to identify those opportunities that present the greatest impact, the best value, and the highest potential — our areas of focus. Our objectives are to manage water for both disaster and for long-term growth; enable reasonable flood insurance premiums through the potential redrawing of the FEMA flood zone; and deliver co-benefits that enhance our cities. These are replicable innovations that can help guide our communities on a sustainable path to living with water.
For the landscape team the project galvanized the ideas of the importance of the size of the unit to be protected, in this case the whole town of Hoboken, a small town, and let to the conclusion that units of a similar size were ideal sizes in which work, leading to rather less costly solutions.