The LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has recognized New York City‘s commitment to progressive and resilient solutions by awarding Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of his eponymous firm BIG the Global Bronze Prize. AN was on hand as Ingels and company accepted the award.
Having been extensively covered by AN, it has become common knowledge that BIG’s plan to wrap Lower Manhattan in a landscape berm, known as “The BIG U” keeping floodwaters at bay has been accoladed left, right, and center.
As a response to the Rebuild By Design competition organized by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), BIG’s winning scheme called for a piece of what Ingels called “resiliency infrastructure” to give the project a strong social context. The Rebuild competition offered incentives to develop urban protection strategies in post–Hurricane Sandy world.
Ingels touched on this at the ceremony when he talked about questions the BIG team asked themselves when developing the project. “Could we imagine a way that this resilience infrastructure wouldn’t create a see wall that would segregate the life of the city from the water around it?” Ingels asked the crowd.
Speaking about when Sandy hit in 2012, Ingels recalled: “Even my office was without power for two weeks, and we were the lucky ones!”
The scheme has also been dubbed The Dry Line, referencing the High Line linear park in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “Maybe we can learn from the High Line…which has become one of the most popular promenades in the city,” Ingels said. He noted that in the case of the High Line, the infrastructure itself had been decommissioned and has since manifested its way into city life.
“What if [we] don’t have to wait for the infrastructure to be decommissioned?” He continued. “What if we can design the resiliency infrastructure of Manhattan so it comes with intended social and environmental side effects that are positive?”
Ingels has attempted to answer these questions in his scheme for Lower Manhattan. Despite being in the process of realization, the project will take a lot of extensive collaboration and planning to be a success. If realized, here’s what we can expect life on the Dry Line to be like: