In the wake of Hurricane Irene it only seemed appropriate to take a second look at Rising Current, an exhibit that was featured at the MoMA just last year. To give you a refresher, the exhibit was a cohesive showcase of five projects tackling the lingering truth that within a few years, the waterfront of the New York harbor will drastically change.
Team Zero, comprised of ARO and dlandstudio, specifically took a look at the lower Manhattan landscape, proposing to develop a new soft and hard infrastructure solution paved with a mesh of cast concrete and engineered soil and salt tolerant plants. This would create greenways that act as absorptive sponges for rainwater. The porous green streets address daily tidal flows and storm surges with 3 interrelated high performance systems (network of parks, wetlands and tidal salt marshes). These systems stop sewage overflow, block higher sea levels and mitigate storm surge.
Rising Current provided an emphasis on how to re-think the city, relevant before, and even more pressing now after the flooding from the hurricane. Let’s hope that the ideas for solutions that were generated from the exhibit can now be considered for implementation. More about Rising Currents and Team Zero’s solution following the break.
Organized by MoMA and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Rising Currents exhibit was curated by Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA. Bergdoll divided the harbor into five regions which differ in their densities, square footages, and so forth. The teams, all New York architects, brought their philosophies to the competition and formed interdisciplinary teams. The projects are not meant to be viewed as a master plan, but rather each individual zone serves as a test site for the team to experiment. Bergdoll explained, “Your mission is to come up with images that are so compelling they can’t be forgotten and so realistic that they can’t be dismissed.”
Following the exhibit, Bergdoll shared that the exhibit was meant to initiate conversation that could result in finding solutions and implementing them: Unlike many exhibitions where the show itself is the end destination and ultimate distillation of researched concepts, the Rising Currents exhibition was always intended to be the “second act” in a three-part production, as it were. We wanted the exhibition to jump-start a dialogue on the urgency of climate change and rising sea levels among public officials, policy-makers, and the general public. Possible “third acts” could be to have some of the solutions proposed by the architects in the exhibition actually implemented, or to replicate the Rising Currents workshop and exhibition model in other locales that face similar challenges with sea level rise.