Posts tagged with "Flooding":

Rebuild By Design> BIG’s “BIG U” for Lower Manhattan

In early April, the ten finalists in the Rebuild By Design competition unveiled their proposals to protect the Tri-state region from the next Sandy. And in the near future, a jury will select a winner—or winners—to receive federal funding to pursue their plans. But before that final announcement is made, AN is taking a closer look at each of the final ten proposals. Here's BIG's "Big U" that could save Lower Manhattan from the next superstorm. Team BIG encased Lower Manhattan in  the "Big U," a ring of flood protection measures and community and recreational programming. The 10-mile system is separated into compartments that provide unique storm mitigation strategies and programming for the distinct communities along Manhattan's outer edge. On the East Side, the Bridging Berm protects against future storms and provides access to riverfront parkland when the waters are calm. Underneath the FDR Expressway, BIG would install panels that are decorated by local artists and can be deployed as storm-walls when necessary. A new berm in Battery Park would protect the country's financial center and provide a new pathway through the already popular public space. And an existing Coast Guard building is replaced with a "reverse aquarium," which "enables visitors to observe tidal variations and sea level rise while providing a flood barrier." The team includes One Architecture, Starr Whitehouse, James Lima Planning + Development, Project Projects, Green Shield Ecology, AEA Consulting, Level Agency for Infrastructure, Arcadis, and the Parsons School of Constructed Environments.

New Orleans Unveils Urban Water Plan That Embraces Flooding

[beforeafter]nola-urban-water-plan-07anola-urban-water-plan-07b[/beforeafter]   On September 9th, New Orleans unveiled an innovative proposal for flood management: the New Orleans Greater Water Plan. Designed by Dutch engineers and led by chief architect and planner David Waggonner of locally-based firm Waggonner & Ball Architects, the plan seeks to mitigate the damages caused during heavy rainfalls. The concept is simple: keeping water in pumps and canals instead of draining and pumping it out. The idea is to retain the water in order to increase the city’s groundwater, thereby slowing down the subsidence of soft land as it dries and shrinks. [beforeafter] nola-urban-water-plan-05b nola-urban-water-plan-05a[/beforeafter]   New Orleans is built on swampland and suffers ravaging damages when floods occur, as sea levels rise quickly and the community becomes quickly submerged. The current floodwater management system uses a forced drainage mechanism that dries lands quickly. This heavy reliance on drainage practices leads to damaged lands, severe soil imbalances, and subsidence. As the ground sinks, the city’s infrastructure weakens. Not only does this increase residents' exposure to risk when faced by a natural disaster, but it also diminishes the value of the area’s waterways as public assets. Under the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, floodwaters are retained rather than drained. During rainfall, water is slowed down through water retention and corralled into areas used as parks during dry seasons. The retained water is then channeled into canals and ponds that will help sustain wildlife, improve soil quality, and increase safety levels in case of flooding. Water will flow year round, ultimately maintaining the stability of soils and the general health of the city’s eco-system. [beforeafter]nola-urban-water-plan-08anola-urban-water-plan-08b[/beforeafter]   Nowadays, water-management is a particularly important issue as the world is looking for ways to appease and manage the impacts of climate change and increased human activity. Louisiana is currently experiencing the highest rates of sea-level rise, making the ‘Big Easy’ highly vulnerable to damages caused by intense downpours. The $6.2 billion plan would help mitigate flooding during heavy rainfalls, and repair soils that have been dried up by the previous flood management system, hence preventing further sinking of the ground under sea level. Refurbishing centuries’ old infrastructures will be challenging and it still remains unclear how the plan will be funded. The project’s estimated competition date is 2050. City officials believe that it would be effective in mitigating the risks induced by floods and will bolster the appeal of acquiring local real estate.The Urban Water Plan re-envisions New Orleans as a vibrant metropolis of ponds and canals. The core idea is to efficiently manage water, instead of trying to get rid of it. If successful, the plan will transform the city into an urban landscape filled with rain gardens and bioswales, create appealing waterfront properties, and promote home values. New Orleans is on the right track to becoming a potential leader in water management and a potential model for other cities around the world. [beforeafter] nola-urban-water-plan-06bnola-urban-water-plan-06a[/beforeafter] [beforeafter] nola-urban-water-plan-04bnola-urban-water-plan-04a[/beforeafter] [beforeafter]nola-urban-water-plan-09anola-urban-water-plan-09b[/beforeafter] [beforeafter]nola-urban-water-plan-03anola-urban-water-plan-03b[/beforeafter]

Floodwaters Surround Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: "The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached." Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.

Preparing for Future Storm Surges Delays Rogers Marvel’s Brooklyn Bridge Park Pierhouse

While Hurricane Sandy hasn’t slowed development in some parts of Brooklyn, it has delayed the groundbreaking of the Roger Marvel Architects-designed hotel and residential complex at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park called the Pierhouse. The New York Post reported that the project was originally slated to begin construction this month, but Toll Brothers, the developer, said they will hold off until the redesign of the 159-apartment and 200-room hotel complex is updated with measures meant to protect against future storm surges. Changes include elevating the building three feet, adding steps and ramps to the lobby, and placing the mechanical systems on the roof. This development is paying for a considerable portion—about $3.3 million—of the park’s $16 million annual maintenance budget. Nearby, plans for a velodrome proposed for the park were scrapped in part due to potential flooding of the site.  

Cuomo’s Buyback Program Could Reshape Coastline

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York. (David Sundberg/ESTO) New York's Governor Cuomo is moving ahead with the buyout program he first introduced in his State of the State speech last month. The New York Times reported that Cuomo is proposing an ambitious plan to spend $400 million to purchase homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and clear the land for wetlands, dunes, and parkland that will “help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms” in the future. The buyout offer will also extend to homeowners who live in vulnerable areas at risk of flooding, but that were not affected by Sandy. Cuomo intends on paying for the program with part of the $51 Billion Emergency aid package passed by Congress, and then will look to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the remaining funding. In the meantime, Cuomo and his aids are waiting on the approval of federal officials. More details about the plan are expected in the next two weeks. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)

After Hurricane Sandy, Thousands of Buildings Added to FEMA’s New Flood Maps

In post-Hurricane Sandy New York, it looks like Zone A is expanding, and stretching beyond waterfront properties to encompass buildings farther inland. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released preliminary new maps on Monday revealing that an additional 35,000 homes and buildings are now listed in flood zones. Business and homeowners included in these new zones will likely see their insurance rates rise. More maps will be published in late February, and the official ones will be available this summer. The New York Times reported that while the maps will not “formally go into effect for two years,” Mayor Bloomberg is getting ready to deliver an executive order that would help rebuild damaged homes that weren't located in the original flood zones but now included in the new FEMA maps. In related Hurricane Sandy news, Congress just passed a $51 billion emergency aid package to help victims in New York, New Jersey, and other states rebuild their homes and businesses.

New York City Planning Looks To Better Prep Buildings After Sandy

While the majority of New York City is pre-occupied with the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Sandy, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is discussing and introducing different measures that can be taken to protect our buildings from future storms. At a review session yesterday, Howard Slatkin, the Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for the DCP, presented Hurricane Sandy: Initial Lessons for Buildings. From the start, Slatkin maintained that newly constructed buildings designed to code “fared better.” He listed several buildings—such as The Edge in Williamsburg, IKEA in Red Hook, and Arverne by the Sea in the Rockaways—as examples of new developments that successfully withstood the storm. “Ninety-eight percent of buildings destroyed by the storm were built pre-1983,” said Slatkin. “If you design buildings to the proper standards, they can survive flooding.” Even with those findings, Slatkin said the storm “exceeded both the boundaries and flood heights of the current FEMA 100-year flood zones.” He reinforced the need for upgrades to building codes that would require “freeboarding,” which means elevating the lowest floor of a building. Beyond building codes, Slatkin touched upon the need to implement changes to the flood maps, and revealed that this will happen in the very near future. “FEMA is expediting the release of the new FEMA map,” said Slatkin who anticipates this will happen at the end of this month. FEMA recently posted new flood elevation maps for 10 counties in New Jersey.

Here Comes The School Boat: Living With Bangladesh’s Floods

For five months a year Bangladesh endures a monsoon season, suffering from two floods yearly leaving millions of citizens living in river basins stranded without basic necessities. But a non-profit organization founded by an architect based in northern Bangladesh, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, has decided to build flood resistant schools that come to the homes of students. Health care facilities and homes are also being built to float by the non-profit. Local Bangladeshi-architect Mohammed Rezwan founded Shidhulai in 2008. The organization's fleet has grown to 100 boats bringing education, medical necessities, practical farming information, and financial services to families along the river. Rezwan’s organization also offers bicycle-powered pumps, a flood alert system, and solar powered lighting. Solar power technology is also being developed by Shidhulai to help families farm during floods allowing them to feed themselves. This includes fishnets made form bamboo with solar powered duck coops providing fish food in the form of duck manure and beds of hyacinth that can grow vegetables. Every school boat is equipped with internet access, a laptop, and a small library, all specially protected from heavy rainfall and any possible water damage. [Via Fast.Co Design.]

Rising Flood Waters Inspire Floating Houses in the UK

Floods last spring in the United Kingdom have inspired a flood-resistant housing design that works with floodwaters instead of against them—homes that rise from their foundations with floodwaters and return to ground level once waters have dissipated. Baca Architects has proposed the first “amphibious house” in the UK, on the banks of the Thames River in Buckinghamshire, that if successful could reverse a decision to ban new construction in low-lying areas. The house will rest just over 32 feet from the river's edge at ground level making it possible for owners to enjoy gardens, but during an intense flood, predicted once every hundred years, the concrete base will rise as it fills with water lifting the home’s light timber frame, allowing it to float like a buoy. Four vertical posts keep the structure from floating away. The garden will be terraced at differing levels and will show rising water levels at each increment giving residents ample warning time to decide whether or not evacuation is necessary. Although still a fairly new technology, the first amphibious house was built in the Netherlands, while others are being built New Orleans. The design was so successful that Dutch company, Deltasync, has designed a series of floating cities to compensate for rising waters in low-lying areas. Baca Architects' design will have a life expectancy of 100 years and would be the biggest amphibious house at 2,420 square feet, but at around $2.5 million it is also 20 to 25 percent more costly than a traditional home of the same size. [Via Gizmag.]

Architects Leading Charge for Disaster Preparedness

After going through 9/11,  the importance of disaster preparedness and relief hit home with New Yorkers. "Everyone was focusing on the fact that New York had been damaged," said Lance Jay Brown, AIANY board member and co-chair of the recently formed Design for Risk and Reconstruction committee of the AIANY. "The architectural community was galvanized to respond." Just coming off a jolt from a rare, if small, earthquake and with Hurricane Irene on its doorstep, New York is once again focused on planning for disaster. In 2004, Brown convened an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the design and planning community including the AIA, APA, and ALSA to form the Disaster Preparedness Task Force. With global disasters from Katrina to quakes in Haiti and Chile making news more and more frequently, the group sought to organize architects as first responders to help not only with the aftermath of a disaster but also to prepare for future events. "We thought it would be reasonable for the architectural community to look at these problems to figure out what we could do before, during, and after," Brown explained. This year, the AIANY further sought to establish a permanent standing committee to explore the array of issues surrounding disasters and design. In May, a committee was formed and by June, after some debate over the name, was christened Design for Risk and Reconstruction. The group had its first meeting this Wednesday attended by about 20 people, coincidentally timed between an earthquake and a hurricane. Brown said the group couldn't anticipate these events when the meeting was scheduled months ago, but noted, "When there's a crisis, everyone jumps up and gets interested but then quickly forgets." The momentum of current events could be a boon toward realizing goals of better design for disasters. "The goal of the committee is to foster an attitude of good design to anticipate risk and find opportunities to improve design," he said. Among the ideas of the committee are to host a series of events ranging from rebuilding tornado-ravaged Greenburg, Kansas to applying lessons from 9/11 toward rebuilding Haiti. The group's first event will feature Klaus Jacob of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who has researched disaster preparedness in New York. He and his colleagues recently published "Vulnerability of the New York City Metropolitan Area to Coastal Hazards, Including Sea-Level Rise: Inferences for Urban Coastal Risk Management and Adaptation Policies." No date has been set for the event. Brown compared the group's efforts to the advent of fire egress regulations over the past 150 years. After a devastating fire in the 1830s that destroyed Manhattan's Wall Street district, a series of design improvements were made to ensure better safety in buildings. Fire escapes first appeared to offer a second means of egress and then dual utilitarian fireproof stairs. Today, architects are celebrating fire stair design in the city's newest buildings. "We have gone from a time of no egress to egress as a design attribute 150 years later," Brown said. Designing for other disasters could have the same effect. As Irene moves closer to New York and bottles of water begin disappearing off bodega shelves, Brown said the best approach is to hunker down and ride out the storm in safety. "We don't tend to have buildings that blow away," he noted. "What seems most dangerous is damage caused by flying objects." A few of his recommendations: move indoors all objects that can catch the wind, from awnings to deck chairs, or securely tie them down; residents of tall buildings should move to a lower level—below the tenth floor—to ride out the storm, due to increased winds at higher elevations and greater building sway. While scaffolding might seem particularly vulnerable, after the city shuts down all construction sites across the city on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., the scaffolds should remain strong. "If things have been done to code and correctly anchored to buildings, there's little to fear," Brown said. Scaffolding could actually increase safety, providing shelter for those trapped outside during the storm. "The city is getting better at being prepared," Brown noted. "It's a good time to remind people to get informed."