On June 2nd, 2014, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the winning proposals of the Rebuild by Design contest. Initiated in response to the widespread destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Rebuild by Design seeks to develop policy-based solutions that will protect U.S. cities most threatened by extreme weather events. The six winners all proposed resiliency strategies to better protect the areas most affected by the flooding and storm surges of Hurricane Sandy.
The most ambitious and expensive project, dubbed the Big U, aims to form a u-shaped protective system around 10 miles of low-lying areas in Manhattan. The $335 million project proposes coordinated plans for three independent flood zone compartments featuring physical flood protection measures that are socially integrated into the community. Deployable walls attached to the underside of FDR drive will be able to flip down and provide instant flood barriers in extreme weather events while serving as well-lit easels for local artists in normal conditions.
These projects represent important steps that need to be taken across the United States. While it is important that we move to mitigate the sources of climate change, we will inevitably need to address the threats already presenting themselves. Resiliency strategies that plan to adapt to climate change are increasingly necessary, especially for coastal areas plagued by flooding. In the U.S. 39% of the total population lives in counties directly on the coastline and with Arctic ice melting faster than ever, a large swath of America is under direct threat. If we act proactively to prepare for the challenges posed by climate change, we can meet them head-on and successfully adapt to our changing planet.
Photo courtesy of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) team