Do the FAR ROC-away

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.” Although the quote is by Rahm Emanuel regarding the financial crisis, don’t let partisan politics cloud the message’s potency. No doubt, those directly affected by Superstorm Sandy, which brought so much devastation to New York and the region, take this to heart.

In light of the disaster, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and its partners – developers of Arverne East in the Rockaways, Queens – took this message to heart, too. They rightly stopped the project in its tracks to rethink the entire plan, venturing to do things they couldn’t do before.

To solicit the best ideas for a path to an innovative and resilient scheme, the coalition, including HPD, L+M Development Partners, The Bluestone Organization, Triangle Equities, Enterprise Community Partners, and AIANY, held an ideas competition. On 07.18.13, the four finalist teams of the FAR ROC competition’s first phase were announced at the Center for Architecture.

On hand to introduce and congratulate the finalists were HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua; Donovan Richards, Jr., NYC Council Member – District 31; Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, 2013 AIANY President; Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director; Ron Moelis, CEO and Chairman, L+M Development Partners; Bomee Jung, Deputy Director, Enterprise Community Partners; and Pat Sapinsley, AIA, LEED AP, Co-chair of the AIANY Committee on the Environment (Sapinsley, along with Ilana Judah, Int’l. Assoc. AIA, and Albert S. Wei, AICP, received the AIANY Vice President of Design Excellence Certificate of Excellence at our 146th Annual Meeting on 06.04.13 for their FAR ROC work.)

The four winning teams’ proposal names and compositions, which were chosen from 117 submissions by an all-star jury and listed in the order that they presented their designs at the Center, are: F.R.E.D., by NYC-based Ennead Architects (with Langan Engineering, LERA, Atelier 10, Hargreaves, and BioHabitats); Rockaway Rising, by Toronto’s Lateral Office (with WXY Studio, Buro Happold, EDesign Dynamics, Sam Schwartz Engineering, and HR&A Advisors); Far Rockaway, by London-based Seeding Office (with Biber Architects and Robert Silman Associates); and Small Means and Great Ends, designed by Goteborg, Sweden’s White Arkitekter (with Arup and Gensler).

“Although the jurors had to choose four proposals from 117 submissions, I wish we could have picked them all,” said Bell. “Every team presented innovative concepts that would undoubtedly make Arverne East the most resilient new development in the country. It is clear that there is a very high level of design thinking in New York and around the world, and I congratulate the four winning teams and their visions for this important project.”

Indeed, each team devised novel resiliency and design methods, which are detailed in their proposals here. You can also see television coverage of the announcement on NY 1 here. Stay tuned for the final winner’s announcement on 10.24.13 at AIANY’s annual Heritage Ball!