Rebuild by Design addresses vulnerabilities exposed by Superstorm Sandy. The Big U is a 10-mile protective ribbon around lower Manhattan. The U consists of multiple linked design opportunities; each local neighborhood tailoring its own set of programs, functions, and opportunities. Small, relatively simple projects invest in resiliency now, while setting in motion longer-term solutions to create social infrastructure: protective framework also doubling as community amenities.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded The Big U $335 million in federal funding for the first phase, the Lower East Side (Compartment 1).
The Big U consists of 3 components: Big Bench; Battery Berm; Berm. Big Bench is a continuous protective element adapted to local context that mediates new and existing infrastructure. It is designed like street furniture: practical yet playful. Battery Berm weaves an elevated path through the park, enhancing the public realm while protecting the Financial District and critical transportation infrastructure beyond. This signature building will feature a ?Reverse Aquarium? which enables visitors to observe tidal variations and sea level rise while providing a flood barrier. The Berm rises 14-feet by the highways connecting coast and community with greenways. Ultimately, the Berm will cap the highway.
From Bangkok to Venice, coastal cities are at risk. The Big U serves a new template for integrating resiliency with city-making. The floodplain behind the 10 miles of coastline is home to approximately 220,000 people and contains some of the largest business districts in the country (cumulatively at the core of an economy with $500 billion annual GDP) and influences economic activity globally. More than 52 million tourists annually come to New York City. The area also contains 35,000 affordable housing units (many hit hard by Sandy). 95,000+ low-income, elderly, and disabled residents live there.
Collaborators: o Planning: One Architecture
o Engineer: Buro Happold
o Landscape Architect: Starr Whitehouse
o Finance/Economics Consultant: James Lima Planning + Development
o Ecologist: Green Shield Ecology
o Senior Planner and Water Management Engineer: ARCADIS U.S.
o Engineering Consultant: Level Agency for Infrastructure