Three Ideas for a Flood-Resistant NYC
One team of architects imagined human-planted marshes and grasslands could reduce the force of storms on the southern shores of Manhattan.
CREDIT: Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio
Could a future New York City build storm-blocking wetlands, oyster beds or a new sea barrier? In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times looked at three ideas architects have proposed for making the Big Apple more flood resistant.
The ideas vary in ambition and it's uncertain whether the city will take any of them seriously. At least New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be in the mood to consider some changes to the city's infrastructure.
"For us to sit here today and say this is a once-in-a-generation and it's not going to happen again, I think would be short-sighted," Cuomo said during a press conference Oct. 31. "I think we need to anticipate more of these extreme weather type situations in the future and we have to take that into consideration in reforming, modifying our infrastructure."
Architecture firms dlandstudio and Architecture Research Office have an extensive plan for Manhattan's southern shores, the New York Times reported. On land, architects imagined three levels of roadways that would absorb flooding water with porous concrete, or direct water back into the sea. In the water, the architects imagined planting grassy parks, wetlands and marshes that could absorb some of the energy of storms.
Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio's idea first appeared in a 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as did this next idea.
The Times covered "oyster-tecture," an idea that would fill New York Harbor with fuzzy ropes and other materials designed to entice free-floating oyster larva to land, build shells and grow in beds. Architect Kate Orff, one of the idea's creators, says the resulting oyster beds could clean polluted water and protect the shorelines of Red Hook and Gowanus, two Brooklyn neighborhoods that flooded during Hurricane Sandy.
Orff is now running a pilot project to test the idea in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the Atlantic Cities reported in September.
For Staten Island, where 10 of New York City's 40 Sandy-related victims died, engineer Lawrence Murphy once designed a huge, complex storm barrier, the New York Times reported. The barrier would have underwater storm gates that would open and close as needed. An emergency generator would supply the gates with electricity even if the power grid in the area fails. The generator might even get some of its energy from the movement of waves, the Times reported.
As for whether larger barriers might be a good way to protect the entirety of New York City, that's up for debate, as this New York Times feature points out. On Nov. 1, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "I don't know that I think there are any practical ways to build barriers in the oceans when you have an enormous harbor like we do, and Long Island Sound. Even if you spend a fortune, it's not clear to me that you would get much value for it."