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Design for the Rising Tide

Charrette participants (seated, clockwise from top) David Piscuskas, FAIA; Deborah Gans, AIA; Lee Weintraub, FASLA; Pablo Vengoechea; Richard Dattner, FAIA; Mary Kimball (hidden). Standing: (l-r) Illya Azaroff, AIA, co-chair of the Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee, and Thaddeus Pawlowski of the Department of City Planning.

Benedict Clouette

Event: “Freeboard” Design Charrette
Location:
Center for Architecture, 03.23.12
Participants:
David Piscuskas, FAIA, 1100 Architect; Richard Dattner, FAIA, Dattner Architects; Deborah Gans, AIA, Gans Studio; Lee Weintraub, FASLA, Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture; Pablo Vengoechea, Pablo Vengoechea Architect; Mary Kimball, NYC Department of City Planning; Vincent Linarello, Alexander Gorlin Architects; Anne-Sophie Hall, AIA, Grimshaw Architects; Chris Garvin, AIA, Terrapin Bright Green; Julia Murphy, AIA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Wids Delacour, AIA, Delacour & Ferrara Architects; Erick Gregory, NYC Department of City Planning; Jill Lerner, FAIA, Kohn Pedersen Fox; Basar Girit, Situ Studio; Bill Browning, Terrapin Bright Green; Maria Milans del Bosch, Mathhew Baird Architects; Denisha Williams, ASLA, Denisha Williams Landscape; Jeff Schumaker, NYC Department of City Planning; Beth Greenberg, AIA, Dattner Architects; Reid Freeman, AIA, James Carpenter Design; Eric Bunge, AIA, nArchitects; Carmi Bee, FAIA, RKTB; Allison Duncan, ASLA, Allison Duncan Design; Skye Duncan, NYC Department of City Planning; Peter Gluck, Peter Gluck & Partners; Jonathan Marvel, AIA, Rogers Marvel; Stephen Cassell, AIA, Architecture Research Office (ARO); Florence Schmitt, Matthew Baird Architects; Chris Holme, NYC Department of City Planning; Hayes Slade, AIA, Slade Architects; Marc Puig, nArchitects; Landon Brown, Toshiko Mori  Architects; Lisa Tsang, Obra Architects; Jamie Chan, NYC Department of City Planning; Leah Cohen, NYC Department of City Planning; Frank Michielli, AIA, Michielli + Wyetzner; Colin Cathcart, AIA, Kiss Cathcart; Matthew Berman, Assoc. AIA, workshop/apd; Claire Weisz, AIA, WXY architecture + urban design; Susannah Drake, AIA, ASLA, dlandstudio; Jessica Fain, NYC Department of City Planning; Michelle Valdez, NYC Department of City Planning; Pablo Castro, AIA, Obra Architects; James Slade, AIA, Slade Architects; Winka Dubbledam, Assoc. AIA, Archi-tectonics; Michael Kwartler, FAIA, Environmental Simulation Center; Tricia Martin, LEED AP, WE Design; Michael Marrella, NYC Department of City Planning; Colin Gardener, NYC Department of City Planning; Illya Azaroff, AIA, Co-chair, Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee; Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, Co-chair, Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee
Organizers:
New York City Department of City Planning; AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee

Last August, Hurricane Irene brought high waters to New York, driving residents from their homes, costing the city millions of dollars, and giving New Yorkers a hint of what to expect from climate change and sea level rise.

Recognizing the need for fresh ideas to address these new risks to the city, a recent design charrette at the Center for Architecture brought together more than 50 architects, urban designers, landscape architects, planners, and educators to develop creative responses to the challenges posed by rising water levels and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. The event, a joint project of the New York City Department of City Planning and the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee, called on designers to propose strategies to improve the city’s flood-resistance while also maintaining the vitality of New York’s streets.

The charrette’s participants were divided into groups, each addressing a different building typology (single-family homes, elevator apartments, mixed-use buildings, and multi-family row-houses), and were charged with producing solutions for similar buildings sited in low-lying and flood-prone areas. The brief asked that the designs respond to the anticipated water elevation levels of a 100-year flood, and prompted the teams to keep in mind the pedestrian experience of the street.

During the charrette, the participants crowded around tables, sketching their ideas over typical sections and elevations of their building types. Many of the teams produced several possible schemes, reflecting different trade-offs and priorities, all of which were discussed in a round of presentations at the conclusion of the charrette.

“The design charrette was a creative, collaborative, and dynamic step in addressing the risks that we confront as we move into the 21st century,” said Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, co-chair of the Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee and an organizer of the event. “These members of the New York design community stepped up, voluntarily and on short notice, and donated their time, energy, and creativity in pursuit of inventive solutions.”

The afternoon ended with a call to continue to refine the ideas generated at the event, and the suggestion of future workshops to address a greater range of scales, moving from the building to the city and the region. The Department of City Planning is expected to issue a report summarizing the findings of the charrette this summer.

Benedict Clouette is a writer and the editor of e-Oculus.