To benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy, New York City designers are hosting a furniture auction, selling pieces made from the storm’s reclaimed materials. The silent auction, Reclaim NYC, is organized by AN alumna Jennifer Krichels Gorsche, writer Jean Lin, and designer Brad Ascalon will sell the work of more than twenty artists who have all pledged to donate proceeds to the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The pieces range from tables and chairs to lighting fixtures to art objects. Some designers have even represented themes of the storm and flooding in their work and will continue to include these themes in upcoming work.
Reclaim NYC will take place on December 19 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Ligne Roset’s SoHo showroom, located at 155 Wooster Street.
Participating Designers as of December 4, 2012:
Kevin Michael Burns
In New York City’s post-Sandy life, the important issue of provisional housing after a disaster is more prominent than ever. Although the plans will not affect those impacted by the recent storm, over the past five years the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing modular apartment blocks for disaster housing relief consisting of ever-adaptable shipping containers. Relief housing for future emergencies could be quickly trucked in and stacked to create housing for dozens of displaced residents.
The design prototype constructed by New Jersey shipping company, Sea Box, takes the 480 square feet of a shipping container and converts it into a fully furnished modular one-bedroom apartment. Each unit can then be stacked one upon another with the idea that a large parking lot or playground could serve as a location for its speedy construction after a disaster. Officials believe the boxes would serve as a more viable and durable disaster-housing solution for NYC than FEMA trailers. Each module is expected to be reusable up to 20 times and cost between $50,000 to $80,000. The hope is that FEMA could cover most if not all of the expenses.
Uniquely answering NYC’s need for housing density in a compact area, the container solution was borne from a 2007 competition—titled WhatIfNYC—where entrants were asked to consider various criteria related to the urban disaster environment including the ability to house large numbers of people, be rapidly deployable, comfortable, inexpensive, and energy efficient.
To test the proposal the Office of Emergency Planning will construct a 16-unit prototype in Brooklyn, which they hope to complete by the end of 2013. FEMA and the Army Corps are tentatively on board as the model is constructed, but final approval from the city has yet to be declared.
Barriers or freshwater wetlands? New building codes? What about porous pavements or floating city blocks? These were just a few of the ideas batted around at AIANY’s discussion and fundraiser, “Designing the City after Superstorm Sandy,” at the Center for Architecture last Thursday evening. The panel, moderated by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, consisted of the city’s leading designers, architects, scientists, and government officials. While each panelist came to the conversation with a different approach and set of strategies, all agreed that change is necessary and new solutions urgent.
“There’s a certain consensus about taking steps in the long-run,” said Kimmelman.
The participants on the panel included Cynthia Barton, Housing Recovery Plan Manager at the NYC Office of Emergency Management; Howard Slatkin, Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for the city; Dr. Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist and Special Research Scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Stephen Cassell, principal architect at ARO; Donna Walcavage, landscape architect and urban designer; and Robert M. Rogers, partner of Rogers Marvel Architects.
The design solutions are part of a larger and more complex issue that call for us to “re-frame the ways we engage with the water,” said Cassell whose ideas helped to spearhead the Rising Currents exhibit at MoMA in 2010. And as Kimmelman pointed out in his introduction, will force us to decide, “what parts of the city are necessary to change, salvage and develop and what parts we cannot.”
Cassell and Walcavage advocate for what they term “soft solutions” such as freshwater wetlands and upland parks that won’t disrupt the balance of the ecosystem as oppose to the much talked about barriers. Dr. Jacob referred to himself as a “barrier skeptic.” He hasn’t completely ruled them out, but believes that other preventive measures should be considered, including regulations and large-scale regional planning with New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York.
The solutions were at once specific and lofty, and Kimmelman challenged the panelists during the Q&A session when he asked: “Who will legislate and have authority? Why will something change now?”
Many of the participants argued that Hurricane Sandy is a turning point, and there’s simply too much at stake. Rogers pointed out that New York City is a “grid of real estate” and the significant investment in waterfront property will prompt developers and the city to be pro-active whether that means implementing new codes and regulations or altering the landscape by creating saltwater marshes to act as buffers against rising sea levels and storms. A few panelists suggested that an improved version of Robert Moses would lead the way or joked that perhaps a benevolent god would appear.
Even though Kimmelman remained ambivalent and questioned why strong and cohesive leadership would emerge now to help facilitate change, it looks like the city is already taking action. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has asked the Urban Green Council to launch a Building Resiliency Task Force, which will consist of leading professionals in New York City real estate. In an announcement last week, Urban Green said that the Task Force’s main objective is “to take an in-depth look at how to better prepare our buildings for future storms and infrastructure failures.” A list of recommendations will be released in summer of 2013.
After the sad news back in August that New York City's already-delayed bike share system—Citibike—would be delayed until the spring of 2013, we'd almost forgotten about the thousands of bright blue bikes that have been in storage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard while computer glitches are worked out. The apparently-cursed bike share system is back in the news, however, as the New York Times reports that some of the equipment was damaged during Hurricane Sandy when the East River inundated waterfront Brooklyn.
Floodwaters up to six feet deep apparently damaged program equipment including the docking stations, but the NYC Department of Transportation would not comment on the extent of the damage or whether it would cause further delays in launching the system. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told the Times, "We're working on it." Some believe the electronic design of the docking stations could make them especially vulnerable to flooding.
In October, AN reported on new accessibility improvements at the Statue of Liberty, including installing a new HVAC system, improved ventilation, and a fire stair climbing through the 126-year-old statue. After remaining shuttered for a year during the improvements, Lady Liberty triumphantly reopened this fall.
Until Hurricane Sandy. The New York Times reports that the statue itself suffered no major damage during the storm (despite any fake Twitter photos you may have seen), but the grounds surrounding the "Mother of Exiles" suffered quite a bit of damage. Among the problems is damage to the large dock where ferries would unload visitors. Additionally, the promenade surrounding the island lost more than half of its brick pavers during the storm. There's also some worry that the new mechanicals just installed might have suffered damage when the statue's basement flooded. No timeline has been given as to when the monument will reopen.
Staten Island's Old Orchard Shoals Lighthouse stood as a protective beacon in Sandy Hook Bat for 119 years, but has now been reduced to rubble atop its rocky outcropping after being slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Built in 1893, the cast-iron lighthouse once stood 51 feet tall and had been listed on the National Park Service's Maritime Heritage Program, but had been declared obsolete by the General Service Administration and sold at auction in 2008 for $235,000. The US Coast Guard confirmed this week that the stout structure succumbed to the storm. Light House Friends has more history on the Old Orchard Shoals Lighthouse:
In the late 1800s when winter ice closed down Staten Island Sound, the waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, an estimated 15,000 tons of shipping were forced to use the narrow channel that ran along the eastern shore of Staten Island. In doing so, the vessels passed dangerously close to Old Orchard Shoal. A bell buoy and a lighted buoy initially marked this shallow area, but mariners considered these navigational aids grossly inadequate...After $60,000 was approved, construction of the lighthouse was completed in 1893. The new fifty-one-foot, cast-iron tower was cone-shaped, built in the “spark plug” style common among offshore lights in that region.
While New York and the East Coast try to return to normal after the brutal Hurricane Sandy, AN takes a look at most dramatic storm-related sights as we batten down the hatches for the oncoming nor-easter. Our Lower Manhattan offices reopened on Monday with lights working but our steam-powered heat is still out (space heaters have been working overtime). Architecture for Humanity and AIA New York have already begun mobilizing the design community to help with the recovery effort, as have countless other organizations accepting donations and volunteers.
No one was quite prepared for the extent of the damage Sandy unleashed across the city, and New York's infrastructure flaws were made painfully obvious. As the storm surge spilled into the city, subway and auto tunnels were inundated with millions of gallons of water, including some, like the L-train tunnel, which are still filled with water. Water inundated the World Trade Center site, flooded streets, made a mess of parks across the city, like damage above at Hudson River Park' Pier 25, spotted by the Tribeca Citizen, and shuttered many buildings for months to come. ARUP's Lower Manhattan offices on Water Street sustained major damage, forcing the firm to relocate its New York staff to Edison, NJ. Many high-profile projects that have appeared in AN over the past year were adversely impacted, including the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the South Street Seaport Museum, and Jane's Carousel by Jean Nouvel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Making matters worse, those around contaminated water sources like Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal faced toxic flooding in their neighborhoods.
The MTA released a video of flooding conditions at South Ferry and Whitehall Street Stations, two of the worst hit, indicating just how much water was inside New York's subway system. Lower Manhattan's 1 train service remains indefinitely suspended. The past week has been a case study on the importance of mass transit in cities, and New York's system is slowly returning to normal, but with no buses or trains in the days immediately following Sandy, the city was in disarray. A phased reinstatement of train service continues across New York, which New Yorkers followed through regularly updated Sandy Subway Maps.
While the lack of transit created gridlock as many took to their cars, the storm was also credited with creating a bicycle boom, with bike counts more than doubling across the East River bridges. The city also set up an emergency bus rapid transit system in a matter of days to help people navigate the city.
Battery Tunnel Flooding
Above, a large explosion (at approx. 17 sec. mark) at a ConEd plant along the East River in Manhattan preceded a massive power outage. ConEd had previously cut power intentionally to Lower Manhattan in an effort to avoid larger outages caused by flooding. Combined, the outages provided eerie views of a dark Manhattan skyline, below. The Wall Street Journal put together an interactive slider showing the dramatic change.
Among the non-flood-related disasters to hit New York was the partial collapse of the construction crane boom at Extell's One57 Tower in midtown Manhattan, which has since been secured. AN reported on the crane collapse last week. Above, the front facade of a four-story building at 92 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan crumbled under high winds, landing in the street below. Fortunately, in both cases, no one was injured.
Like most major events these days, the story of Hurricane Sandy played out live on social media, a phenomenon made visual as the raw data was crunched following the disaster. Mirroring Iwan Baan's dramatic photograph of a powerless Lower Manhattan, above, Foursquare check-ins virtually disappear in Lower Manhattan, where the new neighborhood of SoPo—South of Power—briefly existed and lives on in t-shirt form (there are plenty of creative t-shirts helping with the recovery effort available). Twitter accounts of the storm were more evenly distributed across the city. Google has also provided detailed aerial photography of the aftereffects of the hurricane.
Groups, organizations, and companies from near and far are pitching in to help the affected areas. Stanley Black & Decker has sent a giant semi to its North Carolina distribution center where it will be loaded with tools to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Even the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore is joining forces with Architecture for Humanity as part of the organization's Restore the Shore effort.
Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on New York and New Jersey, and the current 55 to 60 mile an hour wind gusts tearing through Central Park have already taken their toll on Manhattan's starchitecture, partially collapsing the construction crane at Christian de Portzamparc's supertall One57 tower on West 57th Street.
The storm snapped the boom of the crane at the summit of the 95-story, 1,004-foot-tall residential tower, which now dangles precariously over the streets of midtown Manhattan. The scene on the street is still developing, but NY1 reports that the crane could become off-balance causing a further collapse. Surrounding streets have been closed and emergency crews are on the scene. [Via Observer & Curbed.]
Elsewhere in New York, wind gusts are picking up. The storm surge along the East River has sent water rushing into low-lying areas of the East River Esplanade and FDR Drive. In Brooklyn, AN stopped by the Gowanus Canal (photo below) at approximately 1:30pm to find a higher-than-normal water level, but no significant flooding in the area. As Sandy moves closer to land, winds and rain are expected to increase and the storm surge to rise.