How to Design for Disasters (The Experts Weigh In)

Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio have proposed Wetlands in Lower Manhattan to deal with the next . Image Courtesy of Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio.

In this article on Fast Company, seven leading architects in the field of designing for disaster – including Peter Gluck, Michael Manfredi, and principals of James Corner Field Operations and Snøhetta – give their take on what lessons Hurricane Sandy, one year on, has taught us. Their responses raise a number of issues, but above all share one common theme: urgency.

Green Infrastructure: Not Enough For Storm Protection

WXY Studio’s East River Blueway Plan. Image Courtesy of WXY Studio

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York, much has been made of “green infrastructure” and its potential to defend cities against waves and floods. Now though, two articles, from the New York Times and Grist, claim that green infrastructure would actually protects us very little. But, since engineered “gray” solutions, such as storm-walls, also have their limitations (namely just moving the surge elsewhere), it seems the solution is a combination of both “gray” and “green” (moving the surge to where it can safely release its energy). Read the original articles here and here.

A Lesson in Dedicated Collaboration: Hunts Point Landing on the South Bronx Greenway / Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

© Economic Development Corporation

In the past decade New York City’s government, along with numerous organizations and design teams, have taken the initiative to revive the city’s public spaces and reclaim underutilized areas that have long been associated with the city’s manufacturing past.  We’re all familiar with the High Line, a project that takes over the elevated rail lines of Chelsea and Meat Packing District that until several years ago stood as a desolate and eroding piece of infrastructure,  which was beautiful in its own way but largely underutilized.  Then there is the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has become a mecca for designers, fabricators and research companies and has recently acquired a museum to celebrate its history.   And of course, there are the city’s waterways, which, since New York City’s early history, have served its manufacturing and trade economy, have become parks along the waterfront as part of the Hudson River Greenway and the FDR Drive.  Manufacturing has long been replaced by Wall Street, but there are parts of the city that still retain the industrial past along the historic waterfront and continue to operate some of the most important facilities that allow the city to function.  Now it is time to reintroduce a public use among these industrial zones.

More after the break!