Resilient design for New York

Nature, floods, housing, commerce

Create a sort of ecotopia where hurricanes pass through without harm, where wildlife can thrive and where oyster beds protect the coast while filtering water.


When the remains of a hurricane hit New York, someone decided to host a competition featuring resilient design to create spaces that would suffer minimal damage and quickly rebound after a storm.

Considering the storm damage and the likelihood that something like this - or worse - would likely happen again, it seemed like a silly idea to build there instead of creating a natural reserve and buffer area.

Silly or not, the competition was free to enter. The game was afoot! We had oyster beds acting as reefs to lower swells and filter seawater, architecture designed so that flood waters could run underneath, communities built along lower wetlands that would channel floodwaters away from developed areas. There was also the required beachfront access, a nature reserve and lots of dunes.

This was a Big Deal Competition, so it's no surprise that the usual gigantic megafirm gang of suspects won again. What did surprise us is that they shared many ideas with our concept. Never mind that nobody from California ever wins competitions in New York (the reverse, unfortunately, is far from true).

In the end, if I understood the blarney, it seems they decided I was right in the first place. Some places are just better left natural. I hope the oysters agree.

Besides, who ever heard of a small design firm from California winning a competition in New York, the Big Apple, etc. etc. If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere, right. Da - da - dadadah…