Following the example of cities such as Hoboken and New Orleans, the cities of Boston, Massachusetts and New York City have both announced exciting new resiliency projects.
The project in Boston is called “Living With Water” and is a competition for architects to redesign Boston for the year 2100, with the estimation that sea levels are five feet higher than today.
“The competition has three separate sections. The first asks designers to adapt a privately owned condominium building on the North End. The second requests a master plan for a large plot on Fort Point Channel. The third (from which the two earlier examples are finalists) focuses on infrastructure further south.
“We chose sites that are approaching a degree of vulnerability already, facing episodic flooding already, and will face inundation earlier,” said John Dalzell, a senior architect at the Boston Redevelopment Agency, which helped launch the competition.
Despite their diversity, the solutions share a desire to reason with water, rather than repel it…
…While Boston’s sheltered natural harbor precludes a New York-size storm surge, Wormser envisions the eventual solution as a “belt-and-suspenders” combination of barriers and adaptive design. There is no question, she told me, that Boston’s future solutions are being expressed in these renderings. “We very much hope that those proposals that fit Boston and are doable actually will be developed.”
New York’s project has already been assigned to world-famous Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who shows that his project, “Dryline”, is more than just functional. “If you’re going to do something anyway”, he says, “then you might as well give it a public benefit as well.”
The Guardian reports,
“We like to think of it as the love-child of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs,” says Ingels. It is a project that is at once tyrannical and touchy-feely, as if the bullish highway builder and the people’s urban activist had sat down to draw up a plan over tea: an uncompromising seawall that also wants to give you a hug. “I think they would have agreed on a lot of things if only they had worked together,” Ingels adds cheerfully. “Our project must have Moses’ scale of ambition, but be able to work at the fine-grain scale of the neighbourhoods. It shouldn’t be about the city turning its back on the water, but embracing it and encouraging access. By taking it one conversation at a time, with the principle that everyone can get their fantasy realised, you end up getting there.”
It is the most ambitious product of Rebuild by Design, a $1bn federally-funded programme to restore the northeastern seaboard following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, introducing new infrastructure to guard against future inundations. Ten schemes were selected to be taken forward from an international competition, addressing everything from new breakwaters along Staten Island’s South Shore, to flood prevention and drainage in Hoboken, New Jersey. BIG was the only team to look at Manhattan itself. “It was a bit like going to a big dance,” says Ingels. “No one picks the prettiest girl because they’re too shy.”
It is very encouraging to see these two cities planning for the future, whether functionally, beautifully, or both.
Inframanage.com notes that cities are continually adapting and changing – to economic changes, demographic changes, population changes, land use changes, inner city changes, and in this case, proposed changes to address resiliency and climate change risks.
This analysis informs infrastructure purchases, renewal and other planning that is worked out in detail in the lifecycle asset management analysis.