Rebuild by Design

OMA . + Rebuild by Design

The Sandy affected region is a long coastline with many assets, and as we now know, at risk. A comprehensive solution is beyond our means, so we will need to prioritize, build smart, and recognize where best to focus our resources for greatest impact. Integrated into our built environments, over time our investments in protection should also empower our communities and our economy, allowing us to grow into resiliency.
Our approach is framed by a desire to understand and quantify flood risk. In doing so, we are better placed to identify those opportunities that present the greatest impact, the best value, and the highest potential (our areas of focus). Our matrix of opportunities charts our focus areas, at different geographic scales, against the spectrum of solutions represented by our team’s expertise. The resulting opportunities are a selection of case studies that showcase how our approach might be used to transform our region.

Planning Principles
To support the future growth of the region in a flood risk constrained environment, deciding where to grow will be critical. This will mean focusing new growth in those areas that can be optimally defended, and conversely, limiting exposure in those areas that cannot―citadel cities versus amphibious villages. Remaining safe, but also enjoying the shore. Making smart decisions on where to grow resiliently.

Risk assessment: Quantifying flood risk allows us to monetize the problem, and therefore better weigh the appropriate response.
Comparative risk: New York has a far smaller probability of experiencing a flood event than New Orleans, however, because there are considerably more assets at risk in the big apple, its total flood risk is greater.
Areas of focus: Our approach considers risk (the 100 year flood zone), value (population as a proxy for asset concentration), and impact (chokepoint or critical nodes)
Growing resiliently: In undertaking planning principles that anticipate flood risk, and consider the appropriate scale of response, the Sandy-affected region can grow towards a resilient future.
City Plus: This means further densification and defense of high value, high impact, high potential sites—cities.
Shack to mansion. Mansion to shack: Acknowledging the beach hut origins of most coastal settlements; Putting at risk only what we can afford to replace, and defending what remains with wet waterproofing solutions.

Comprehensive Strategy
Hoboken exemplifies the conditions desired for a comprehensive flood defense strategy. It is susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge, but its single water shed, single jurisdiction, and combination of high impact factors (high density, value, influence, and potential) lend themselves to creating a multi-faceted solution that both defends the entirety of the city, and enables commercial, civic, and recreational amenities to take shape.

Complex risk: Hoboken is exposed to tidal surge at Weehawken Bay to the north and the New Jersey Transit rail yards to the south. A highly impervious urban fabric, clay ground, and inadequate drainage also make the city susceptible to flash flood.
Comprehensive district approach/ Resist, delay, store, discharge: Hoboken’s flood risk cannot be solved one house at a time. It requires a comprehensive strategy: hard infrastructure, and soft landscape, for coastal defense; a green circuit and water pumps to support drainage; and policy to enable the transformation of the urban fabric.
Hoboken Station Redevelopment Plan: The redevelopment of Hoboken station can help offset the costs of a coastal defense solution that will include park and building as defensive elements. The development will afford flood defense and other civic amenities to both Hoboken and Jersey City.
New Hoboken Station: The Jersey shore is treated as a common asset and common defensive resource.
Canal as Linear Park: The canal breachpoint, is blocked, drained, and used as an emergency water store. In so doing, it is transformed into city resource, and a recreational asset.
Rail corridor as Greenway: A Greenway around the city acts as park and rainwater store; facilitates city-wide drainage via the pumphouses.
Weehawken Bay Park : At Weehawken Bay, a park and natural landscape solution provides coastal defense and a recreational amenity for the north of the city.

Communication Systems
In anticipating floods and building resiliency, it is essential for all stakeholders to share a common understanding of the risks and their implications. Although efforts continue to be made at outreach and capacity building, more can be done to make information accessible―a flood risk 101. During a flood event, information must be consolidated and filtered to better serve government, first responders, and private citizens―an ESPN for floods.

Infrastructure Catalyst
JFK International Airport is a vital node in the regions infrastructure. As part of Jamaica Bay, it is also highly vulnerable to flood risk. Although the airport is capable of ‘taking care if its own problems’, there is an opportunity to leverage this asset to promote the common flood defense of the Jamaica Bay area. That means integrating the airport into a larger tiered defense system, and using the airport as a catalyst for growth; growth that will help fuel, and fund, the transformation of the area, and position Jamaica Bay as a future economic for New York City.
A tiered solution: A resilient Jamaica Bay includes sand nourishment of its barrier island together with wet waterproofing of those communities; a return of its historic marsh; a hardening of the perimeter of JFK; the repurposing of its inner shoreline for recreation, and a densification behind a perimeter of defense.
New nodes of activity: Upgrading transit infrastructure to JFK can thus supporting the growth required to build sustainable resilient communities
Program potential: With repurposing and densification comes the opportunity to reimagine Jamaica Bay. The airport, the park, and the city each serve as poles for program and activity.
Jamaica Bay Aerotropolis: The development of JFK as an airport city, and the larger Jamaica Bay region as an aerotropolis, in which the city grows into resiliency.
Jamaica Bay Aerotropolis: The redeveloped Jamaica Bay as a new hub of activity and economic growth for the city of New York.
A scale comparison: The area around Jamaica Bay is roughly comparable to the size of Manhattan, but whereas JFK adds about $31B of economic value to New York, Manhattan’s GDP is roughly fifty times that ($1.5T). Bridging this gap, can JFK catalyze growth to a more resilient city?

OMA with Royal HaskoningDHV; Balmori Associates; and HR&A Advisors

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