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16km Park Frontier ‘Big U’ Could Save NYC From Flooding

Just in case New York wasn't already no.1 when it comes to whopping city parks.

By Jasmine Crittenden
April 28, 2014
By Jasmine Crittenden
April 28, 2014

Two hundred years ago, New York City expected a flood about once a century. These days, however, it’s looking more like one every three to five years. That’s largely because a significant sea level rise has reduced lower Manhattan’s seawall to a height of just 1.75 metres.

So a design team by the name of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has dreamed up a possible solution. Titled Big U, it’s a 16 kilometre-long frontier of parks that would wrap around Manhattan. Not only would it provide protection from flooding, it would also create more spaces for community interaction and art.

“In the history of New York with the legacy of Robert Moses, most of the infrastructure — whether that’s highways or parks — have generally been imposed without a lot of regard for existing community fabric,” Big U head honcho Jeremy Siegel told Fast Co.Exist. “If you’re going to be investing so much money into an infrastructure for resiliency — that’s going to be sitting along one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world — there’s a huge opportunity there to also improve civic infrastructure, so it can protect the city, but also become a platform for civic life.”

Beginning at West 57th Street and stretching as far as East 42nd street, Big U would create a series of independent flood protection zones. So the sections could be constructed one-by-one, in response to resource availability. It also means that, were flooding to occur in one area, it could be locally managed. “It’s a little bit like the hull of a ship,” Siegel explains, “where you’ve got different segments, and breaching one area doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole system fails.”

The design would involve raising the land, which would then double-up as extra park space, and building ‘flippable walls’. If water were to rush in, they would flip down, creating a barrier; on the other hand, when flipped up, they would showcase murals. There’s also a possible plan to transform a Coast Guard admin building into a combo museum and school, including an educational “reverse aquarium”, which would protrude into New York Harbor, affording views of rising water levels.

Big U is a finalist in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rebuild by Design Competition, created in response to structural and environmental vulnerabilities exposed by Hurricane Sandy.

Via Fast Company.

Published on April 28, 2014 by Jasmine Crittenden


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