The FAR ROC Competition, released shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard, called for a thoughtfully considered proposal for an 80-acre, 11-mile long peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean in the Rockaways (Queens, NY). The RFP expressed the need to explore a comprehensive solution to developing Averne East, a FEMA designated Hazard Area Zone that experienced extensive storm surge damage and continues to be a vulnerable site for future natural disasters. While the competition focused on this particular site, the full intention is to develop strategies that could be appropriated to low-lying and vulnerable regions all over the world.
The first phase of the competition was completed earlier this month: four finalists and six honorable mentions were announced. The four finalists – Ennead Architects of NYC, USA; Lateral Office of Toronto, Canada; Seeding Office of London, UK; and White Arkitekter of Stockholm, Sweden – will continue on to Phase Two with a $30,000 stipend, due in early October.
Join us after the break for more details on the finalists and honorable mentions.
A History of The Rockaways
The Rockaways were initially settled in the 1800s as a resort community; they transitioned into a recreation destination for the middle-class in the early 20th century. The landscape that remains from this period is marked by the one story bungalow houses typical of seaside communities. Because of the nature of the Rockaways’ location, isolated from the rest of NYC both geographically and infrastructurally, it was always seen as – and continues to be perceived as – a temporary escape. Despite its isolation, the area eventually became permanently settled, and the bungalows turned into permanent year-round housing.
By the mid-century, the Rockaways experienced a dramatic decline of commercial and retail services and urban renewal, bringing about a new housing typology. High-rise subsidized housing replaced the one-story bungalows, which were declared illegal under new zoning laws. A number of other legislative decisions turned commercial zones into residential zones and made any commercial development and expansion impossible. This change in policy created a somewhat desolate landscape, marked by vacant land left behind by the razing of bungalows, haphazardly replaced by high-rises, nursing homes and special care facilities. Inadequate infrastructure, lack of transportation, and scarce job opportunities only worsened the situation.
In the early 2000s the city decided to rejuvenate the peninsula by encouraging social diversity through mixed-income and mixed-use projects. Averne by the Sea and Averne East were two development sites that began rebuilding this community. Averne by the Sea was a success, creating a mixed-income community of nearly one thousand homes, which escaped substantial damage during Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge due to its resilient infrastructure.
Left behind by the market crash, however, Averne East was never developed and is now the site for a new round of RFP’s with an updated agenda: increased resilience against future superstorms like Sandy. Averne East, the focus of the FAR ROC competition, is envisioned as a “comprehensive, mixed-use, mixed-income, sustainable and storm-resilient community that will meet the new physical and regulatory challenges of waterfront development while maintaining a balance between innovation and affordability.” (via FAR ROC website)
FAR ROC Competition Finalists
The far reaching response to this competition indicates a global acknowledgement of both the challenges and potential solutions we all face relating to the documented rise in ocean levels and the increasing frequency of major storm events. The wealth of creative approaches we have seen to date is serving to inspire us to work ever more closely with the local community to create a new showcase resilient community that will benefit the entire Rockaways peninsula. - Steve Bluestone, partner of The Bluestone Organization and sponsor of FAR ROC.
Sponsored by HPD, the team of L+M Development Partners, the Bluestone Group, and Triangle Equities, along with Enterprise Community Partners and the Committee on the Environment of the AIANY, the FAR ROC competition boasted 117 entries from 20 countries. The competition results were determined according to these criteria:
- Resiliency: development of innovative environmental solutions for coastal communities in volatile ecological times
- Marketability: economic feasibility, constructability, and development timeline of the project proposal
- Sustainability: responsiveness of the project to issues of energy use, water & resource management, and healthy indoor & outdoor living environments
- Contextual Sensitivity: extent to which the project responds to the aesthetic, social, and economic context of the surrounding community
- Replicability: ability to apply practices and techniques of the proposed development at Arverne East to other sites facing similar challenges
Now a look at the proposals chosen for Phase Two:
F.R.E.D. – Far Rockaway Ecological Dunescape – proposes a series of interventions that create a resilient coastal community and incorporate sustainability. The major feature of the project is to design critical operations above the ABFE (FEMA’s Adjusted Base Flood Elevation) for this site. F.R.E.D. proposes an energy spine above the flood line in order to allow emergency operations as well as pedestrian/vehicular circulation and evacuation during a storm surge. Other features include:
- Efficient density to minimize built area and site work, maximize energy efficiency and foster neighborhood communities
- Maximize ecological potential by using the site ecology to manage storm water and preserve local ecosystems and coastal character
- Develop community resilience and reliance that can be dependable during a time of crisis
- Use building technologies that are adaptable and can change over time
- Build site character
Rockaway Rising proposes a comprehensive development that combines a boardwalk network, water corridors (that are sunken avenues for storm water drainage), and a development of resilient public spaces that are also conducive to protecting the shore from a possible storm surge. The development of this revisited bungalow community is built on higher ground, on stilts, and the landscape is lifted to create a higher base line in relation to the water level, while the basin acts as a storm catchment system during emergencies, and public landscape at all other times.
Far Rockaway proposes a combination of low and mid-rise housing units, interspersed with leisure and retail, active and passive recreation and nature preserves. Sustainable measures such as solar panels and wind mills are introduced in the private and public spaces. The boardwalk is developed as an undulating surface that also directs water flow during times of storm surge. Sunken flow paths are also designed into the street scape to direct water flow, while raised footpaths provide a safe route to shelter and emergency relief.
Small Means and Great Ends focuses on creating small interconnection interventions that can be individually adapted and strengthened as needed in the future. These small interventions include a diversity of programs spread out across the site, allowing access to commercial and recreational functions from residential developments. The central spine of the development is the boardwalk, along which small shops, studios and galleries can be developed. The landscaped boardwalks function as storm water detainment and retention areas, which are protected from storm surge by an ecological zone, while also providing public recreational spaces. The boardwalk cuts the site into distinct but connected neighborhoods, each with mixed-use and mixed-income developments.
Check out the Honorable Mentions below and click the project to learn more.
Courtesy of FAR ROC