Posts tagged with "New Jersey":

Aluminum panels injected with air make EarthCam’s new campus glow

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For nearly 20 years, EarthCam has documented projects by many of the world's top design firms: Zaha Hadid ArchitectsBjarke Ingels Group (BIG)Foster + Partners, Gehry Partners, LLP, The Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano Building WorkshopShigeru Ban, Snøhetta, and Weiss/Manfredi. The company, founded in 1996, is a global leader in providing webcam content, technology, and services. An expansion of their current headquarters, located on a 10-acre campus in northern New Jersey, is the result of a recent collaboration between Steven Davis of Davis Brody Bond and Spacesmith. This expanded corporate headquarters joins 12 additional EarthCam offices worldwide.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer ALUSION by Cymat Technologies (facade panels); Nvelope (panel framing); Kawneer (curtain wall)
  • Architects Davis Brody Bond; Spacesmith
  • Facade Installer EarthCam (panel installation); County Glass and Metal Inc. (glazing)
  • Facade Consultants David L. Kufferman P.E. (structural engineering); OMDEX (MEP Engineer); GK&A (LEED consultant); EarthCam (A/V engineering); Ten Foot Digital (LED screen)
  • Location Upper Saddle River, N.J.
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System steel frame with curtain wall
  • Products Large Glass by Viracon; Aluminum Curtainwall by Kawneer; custom LED exterior lighting by EarthCam
The project, dubbed 'EarthCampus', involves an extensive renovation to an existing 26,000 square-foot cement block building housing technology and manufacturing divisions, along with the addition of a new entryway, connecting atrium, and office workplace. Key features of the project include an uplit translucent aluminum facade. The architecturally stabilized aluminum foam panels were added to the existing office building, installed on a subframe that mechanically attached to the existing block wall. The lightweight panels, manufactured by Alusion, were produced by injecting air into a molten aluminum liquid that contained a fine dispersion of ceramic particles. These particles stabilize the bubbles formed by the air, resulting in a porous but strong surface. The sheets are manufactured in custom sizes, but also are commercially available in standard four-by-eight-foot sheets. The textural aluminum panels frame an entryway pavilion housing a 25-foot-tall LED video wall that showcases live EarthCam feeds from around the world and leans over the interior of the room. This surface extends beyond a curtain wall enclosure where it is clad with flush metal panels, precisely tapering to a sharp edge. “We wanted the building’s facade, one of the first things a visitor sees, to reflect our company values. At the top of the list are innovation and transparency,” said Bill Sharp, senior vice president at EarthCam. “We apply these principles in our business practices, products, services and relationships with clients and employees. The entry is made of three stories of transparent glass where visitors can view from both inside and out a floor-to-ceiling video wall featuring our live streaming camera feeds and construction time-lapse movies.” A steel-clad tunnel leads visitors to the new 11,000 square foot employee workplace where floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights offer ample daylighting. The workplace environment prioritizes a strong connection to nature and the art housed both within the building and throughout the campus grounds. Energy efficiency targets were achieved through the integration of sustainable equipment. Reclaimed building components and new materials made from recycled content contributed to the LEED certification of the facility, highlighting EarthCam’s commitment to corporate sustainability.

Army Corps of Engineers proposes swinging sea gates for New York Harbor

The shores of New York and New Jersey are, as Hurricane Sandy demonstrated in 2012, particularly vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. Coastal construction has become more resilient (though some question to what end) and flood prevention ideas both big and small have been floated to protect the area’s shores. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed several different approaches to preventing flood surges using gates and berms in and around New York Harbor, and environmentalists are sounding the alarm. The proposals are part of the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, a 2,150-mile survey of the region’s most vulnerable areas. The Corps has put together five schemes—four that use storm barriers, and one “as is” projection—and is soliciting feedback from New York and New Jersey residents with a series of information sessions this week. In designing floodwalls for New York Harbor or the Hudson and East Rivers, the Corps will need to balance ecological concerns with property protection; nonprofit clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper has called the Corps “hard infrastructure” solutions, those that use concrete barriers, detrimental to the health of the harbor and its waterways. The Hudson River is technically a tidal estuary and not a full-fledged river. Salt water from New York Harbor, and in turn the Atlantic Ocean, flows back up through the Hudson and mixes with fresh water from tributaries upstate to create a nutrient-rich environment. If the Corps's plan to install a five-mile-long gate across the harbor’s mouth between Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Breezy Point in the Rockaways came to pass, Riverkeeper argues that the barrier would slowly cut off nutrients from the harbor and prevent contaminants from washing out into the ocean. “From Day One, these offshore barriers would start to restrict the tidal flow, contaminant and sediment transport, and migration of fish. They would impede the tidal ‘respiration’ of the river. We fear that a slow death would be inflicted on the river and that in time, the barriers would slowly, but surely, strangle the life out of the river as we know it.” The Corps alternative plans include: building berms, dunes, and seawalls across the lower-lying sections of the New York-New Jersey waterfront, with small floodgates across a few waterways; a barrier across the Staten Island-Brooklyn gap spanned by the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge and gates along Jamaica Bay; and targeted berms and seawalls across targeted low-lying coastal areas without any gates. Creating a centralized approach to flood prevention could be more effective than the piece-by-piece method currently being enacted but comes with its own set of risks. If a massive gate were installed to prevent flooding, it would need to be closed more and more frequently as sea levels rise and would increasingly cut off New York and New Jersey’s waterways from the ocean. Planning for a storm that currently has a probability of occurring once every hundred years may be futile as storms of such intensity become increasingly common. Seawalls have been linked to increased erosion, and if water builds up behind the wall, it can be hard to fully drain the affected area. The Corps is looking to identify a scheme to move forward with by the middle of this summer. However, with a possible price tag of $20 billion and several years of construction likely, whether or not the Corps can follow through is unclear. Interested New York and New Jersey residents can learn more at the following information sessions: Monday, July 9th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca, Richard Harris Terrace (main floor) 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 Tuesday, July 10th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, PR Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Essex Room 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102 Wednesday, July 11th, 6-8 PM at the Hudson Valley Community Center in Poughkeepsie, Auditorium Room 110 South Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

Trump administration vows to block Gateway tunnel funding over political rivalries

The acrimony between the Trump administration and New York and New Jersey officials has reached new heights, as President Trump is reportedly pushing congressional Republicans to block funding for the Hudson River-spanning Gateway tunnel project. AN had previously reported that the administration had pulled federal funding from the $12.7 billion project, but it seems that the move was made to punish New York State Senator Chuck Schumer and other Democratic leaders in those states. Although Trump’s predecessor had once called the Gateway tunnel, part of a $30 billion revitalization plan for the area, a top priority and promised that the federal government would contribute half, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has called Obama’s promises “a throwaway rally line.” Even after the states upped their combined contributions in the tunnel to $5 billion, the Trump administration turned up their nose at financing the rest. Now, as both the New York Times and Washington Post have reported, President Trump has been personally lobbying House Speaker Paul Ryan to shoot down any chance of Gateway funding making its way into the next spending bill. According to sources in the administration, this is in retaliation to Senator Schumer for supposedly corralling Senate Democrats into delaying or blocking the confirmation of President Trump’s nominees to key positions. It’s unlikely that any money from a future infrastructure bill would find its way to the Gateway tunnel either. In the $1.5 trillion version pitched by President Trump, Gateway would simply be too expensive, owing to contribution limits imposed on the federal government, and would be too old to qualify for much money anyways–projects approved after the bill’s passage are weighted to receive more funding by default. The 105-year-old, two-track rail tunnel that currently runs under the Hudson River is owned by Amtrak, and the company has repeatedly warned that saltwater intrusion from Hurricane Sandy means that one of the tracks will need to be repaired sooner rather than later. Closing one half of the tunnel, intentionally or otherwise, without a backup would reduce train traffic, approximately 200,000 riders daily, under the river by up to 75 percent. Of course, it’s possible that Trump could change his mind yet again down the line; the Gateway project was listed as the administration’s number one priority in the 2016 transition plan.

Hudson River tunnel agreement comes into focus, but Trump administration balks

In a joint statement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last week, both states pledged a combined total of $5 billion towards $12.7 billion Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project. The announcement fulfills a promise that half of the project be funded at the state level and half at the federal level, but the Trump administration has called the proposal "entirely unserious." The Hudson tunnel has been contentious for years. Only one rail tunnel currently runs under the Hudson River and between New York and New Jersey, and lingering damage from Hurricane Sandy threatens to close one of the two train tubes. According to Amtrak, which owns the rail tunnel, 200,000 riders pass through daily and closing just one of the tubes for necessary repairs would reduce train traffic between New York City and cities to the west by 75 percent. An earlier, $8.7 billion iteration of the proposed Gateway tunnel would have doubled train traffic between New York and New Jersey, but was canceled by Governor Christie in 2010 over rising costs. The tunnel is also only one part of the larger, $24 billion Gateway Plan that, if fully realized, would expand Penn Station and build new bridges to connect Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. Now that the New Jersey governor is on his way out, Christie seems to have no qualms about recommitting to the now more expensive version of the project. New Jersey has pledged $1.9 billion in funding, with New York agreeing to contribute $1.75 billion, both financed through a 35-year, fixed-interest loan from the Department of Transportation's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program. Under the agreement, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would also contribute $1.9 billion through a similar loan. Despite both states offering to take loans and pay them back with interest, a common method of financing for large infrastructure projects, the Trump administration has refused to accept this deal. While the Obama administration viewed Gateway as an important part of modernizing transit infrastructure in an area that’s vital to the American economy, the current administration has relegated it to a local project. As the Department of Transportation (DOT) spokeswoman told Crain’s, "The plan now seeks 100% of its funding from federal sources." "No actual local funds are committed up front. They propose the project is funded half in grants and half in loans. This is not a serious plan at all." It remains to be seen how the DOT’s shift in attitude will affect similar transit projects nationwide, or how the $1 trillion infrastructure bill proposed by President Trump will impact the Hudson tunnel. Unlike the traditional 50/50 funding model used in the past, Trump’s bill would be funded through public-private partnerships.

2017 Best of Design Awards for Restoration

2017 Best of Design Award for Restoration: The Benacerraf House Architect: Michael Graves Architecture & Design Historical architect: Michael Graves Location: Princeton, New Jersey The Benacerraf House—designed in 1967 by Michael Graves, built in 1969, and published widely in the following years—was instantly an influential touch point in discussions about American modernism. The project embodies Graves’s neo-Corbusian aspirations and presaged an interest in figural forms and colors that informed his later work. On its 50th anniversary, after years of deterioration and even partial demolition, the house has been preserved, restored, and modernized. The exterior has been returned to its original design (with improved construction details and materials), and the first- and second-floor interiors have been updated. The results of this 6,160-square-foot restoration and modernization are more contemporary spaces that greatly improve functionality without compromising the geometry of the addition. Repainted with the original color palette, the house today is as visually interesting as it was when completed half a century ago. “The addition appears to be a playful contrast to the stoic nature of the original structure.” —Nathaniel Stanton, Principal, Craft Engineer Studio (Juror) Principal-in-charge: Patrick Burke, Michael Graves Architecture & Design Project Manager: Peter Neilson Hague, Michael Graves Architecture & Design Project Architect: Xandra Kohler, Michael Graves Architecture & Design Contractor Project Manager: Eric Pianka, Pianka Construction Contractor Site Superintendent: John Knapp, Pianka Construction   Honorable Mention Project: ROW DTLA Produce Renovation Architect: Rios Clementi Hale Studios Location: Los Angeles, California The existing building was a century-old concrete warehouse built to support the distribution of goods along the Southern Pacific rail line. Now, new lobbies create a vital link from the streetscape to the offices above. These lobbies have been carved out of the warehouse, creating a striking front-door experience with materials that relate to the building’s history. Executive Architects: House & Robertson General Contractor: City Constructors   Honorable Mention Project: Aurora St. Charles Senior Housing Architect: Weese Langley Weese Architects Location: Aurora, Illinois An existing six-story hospital, in a 1930s art deco style rare for the surrounding area, has been converted to 60 units of affordable senior housing in Aurora, Illinois. The building—whose charms include multicolored terra-cotta, decorative brick, and a patterned terrazzo floor—is on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Jersey waterfront is transformed in massive $2.5 billion master plan proposal

New York-based Cooper Robertson is set to master plan a $2.5 billion ground-up community along the Raritan River in Middlesex County, New Jersey. The site’s owner and developer, Atlanta-based North American Properties (NAP), announced the project on Monday and released a first look at what would become the largest mixed-use development in New Jersey’s history. Located less than 20 miles from Manhattan and covering a 418-acre site, the new community combines residential, retail, office and hotel spaces with a fully walkable city layout. Named Riverton, the  town will focus on building a street-level pedestrian experience and open waterfront access, including a marina. Cooper Robertson has also filled the plan with public recreation spaces along an unrestricted mile of riverfront esplanade along the Raritan. An update of an earlier 2014 plan, the expanded Riverton will also be the state’s largest brownfield remediation. Besides counting on the proximity of the site to the Garden State Parkway to drive demand, NAP is also banking on an influx of potential residents who have been priced out of New York and are looking for a development with a “hometown” atmosphere. Although none of the others can match its scale, Riverton is the latest project to crop up in New Jersey hoping to court New Yorkers as rents on the other side of the Hudson River continue to rise. Cooper Robertson is no stranger to waterfront development. Besides contributing planning work to Hudson Yards in Manhattan, the studio is currently working on a separate 1,300-acre master plan for the Charlotte River District near Charlotte, N.C. Co-developed with New Jersey-based PGIM Real Estate, Riverton is shovel-ready but is still waiting on a new round of local and state approvals. No estimated construction dates have been released at this time, but NAP hopes to complete the 5 million-square-foot project by 2021.

Towering development to reshape Manhattan-adjacent Edgewater, NJ

Four new towers proposed for the eastern shore of Edgewater, New Jersey, are set to bring the tiny borough out of the shadows cast by neighboring Manhattan and Jersey City. Providing approved plans for a site at 115 River Road, New York YIMBY has revealed glimpses into a 1,919-unit project that may jumpstart development in a city that has remained mostly low-slung. Built on top of a 50-foot-tall landscaped podium that covers most of the site, the towers would range from almost 600 to more than 700 feet in height and would be split 50-50 between rental and condo buildings. The site’s developer, Fred Dabies, has also integrated a parking structure within the podium, walkable waterfront access, and proposed a suite of amenities for condo owners. The massive, blockish towers would not only dwarf all other buildings in the surrounding city, but also stand taller than any existing residential developments in Brooklyn or Queens. Waterfront property across New Jersey is becoming increasingly valuable along the Hudson River, as development tries to keep pace with rising costs in Manhattan. With more businesses moving into Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, it’s expected that office workers will continue to seek out housing across the river. Edgewater is no stranger to ambitious proposals. Thanks to expanded ferry service into the city, combined with building booms in neighboring Jersey City and Hoboken, Edgewater has been struggling to retain its share of lower income housing. The city government is currently fighting with a separate developer at 615 River Road over a similar 1,800-unit project, where Mayor Michael McPartland chose to seize the parcel through eminent domain to head off future construction. Divided between a population of longtime locals and former New Yorkers who chose to leave for a more affordable alternative, it remains to be seen if the 115 River Road project will continue in its current form or be scaled back. No completion date or names of attached architects have been announced yet.

Regional Plan Association unveils the final designs for the Fourth Regional Plan

The Regional Plan Association (RPA) has unveiled the final designs for the Fourth Regional Plan. The four schemes envision a New York–New Jersey–Connecticut metropolitan area 25 years into the future while addressing the emerging challenges the region faces and also capitalizing on new opportunities. Initiated by The Rockefeller Foundation, the competition began in January and asked architects, planners, and designers to incorporate elements such as policy changes, future investments, and growth patterns into the plans. The winning proposals were selected in March and, through a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, they were each awarded $45,000 to work with RPA and a team of professionals to develop their ideas further. In doing so, the four winners expanded their programs, looking at four regional corridors. Dubbed "4C," the RPA describes the designs as a "principal component" of its upcoming Fourth Regional Plan, titled A Region Transformed. The four corridors in question are: Coast Rafi A+U and DLAND Studio Creating what they call a "bight," the two studios propose an artificial coastline that bridges the boundary between the built environment and the water, addressing rising sea levels around Long Island with half-submerged communities able to continue living when change inevitably happens. https://player.vimeo.com/video/227158218 City Only If and One Architecture Defined as the "Triboro Corridor," the plan sees light rail utilizing already-laid freight rail tracks in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. The project would foster development around the new stations; new rail service would connect to existing subway and commuter rail lines. As One Architecture told The Architect's Newspaper, the plan aims to "transform the region’s transportation system from a hub and spoke system to a more resilient network with circumferential connections, greater redundancy, and community amenities." Suburbs WORKac Just as with Only If and One Architecture's scheme, WORKac's plan is centered around transit and connecting underserved neighborhoods around a ring of suburbs from the New York cities of Port Chester and White Plains, through the New Jersey cities of Paterson, Montclair, Rahway and Perth Amboy. Highlands PORT Urbanism and Range Covering the entire region, this proposal spans from the Delaware River to Northern Connecticut. The scheme allows wildlife—not humans—to enjoy the area and migrate north as a result of climate change. The Highlands Corridor would also utilize streams and valleys to connect to the coast. An exhibition of the of final design can be found at Fort Tilden through September 17. Find out more here.

Newark’s Bears stadium will be replaced by a 2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development

Is it finally Newark’s time to shine? Recent projects, like James Corner Field Operation’s Passaic Riverfront Park revitalization and now the redevelopment of Bears & Eagle Riverfront Stadium, have slowly been pushing the city into developers' line of sight.

Ever since the minor league Newark Bears baseball team folded in 2014, the stadium once touted as a “saving grace” has been left largely empty. It was then sold for $23.5 million in 2016 to developers Lotus Equity Group, who will lead the redevelopment of its site in hopes that the project will spur a revival of the city's downtown. 

Lotus chose Vishaan Chakrabarti of New York–based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) to lead the master plan as well as a portion of the architectural design. The master plan includes turning the eight-acre site into a 2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development. It aims to be, as Chakrabarti said to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), a “renaissance for Newark.”

He said the city is currently anchored by its institutions: the Newark Museum, Newark Library, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). What the city lacks, however, is a connective tissue, according to Chakrabarti. Wide streets designed for automobiles create “a kind of physical archipelago,” he said, describing how “every institution is an island onto itself.”

What will be replacing Bears stadium is a dense, mixed-use development made up of residential, office, retail, and cultural space, with an emphasis on community-centered programming. Two housing blocks and one commercial office block will make up the master plan's superblock; a piazza in the middle will hold retail shops and host public programs. There are also plans to bring another cultural venue into the site, which will tie the development back into the city and the surrounding institutions.

Pedestrian movement will be prioritized. Parking garages will be relegated underground, streets will be designed with the pedestrian and non-automobile transportation in mind, and there are plans to only have one shared street for automobiles running through the site.

Chakrabarti, Michael Green of Vancouver, British Columbia–based Michael Green Architecture, and Enrique Norten of New York–based TEN Arquitectos will be leading the design for the three main buildings. “We wanted three different architects from three different places, with each one bringing different sensitivities,” Ben Korman, founder of Lotus Equity, said, adding that the mix of designs will bring a “creative tension.” 

The site’s proximity to educational institutions, certain tech industries, and transit infrastructure (Penn Station is 15 minutes away by train) will help attract Manhattanites looking to move out of the city as well as those who work in Newark, according to Korman.

“It is a transforming project,” Korman said. “Ultimately the vision is to create a significant project that would serve as a model for others to follow.”

The designs and plans are scheduled to be completed by mid-2018, with groundbreaking tentatively aimed for early 2019.

New report on Hudson River rail tunnel anticipates costs rising to $13 billion

The expected costs of a new Hudson River rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey—part of the wider Gateway Project—have risen after an evaluation of the project’s environmental and economic impacts. The report, released last Thursday by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT), examines the environmental impact of the project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to The New York Times, the estimated total costs of the tunnel were calculated to be $13 billion, a drastic increase from the $7.7 billion that had originally been announced. The impact study for the tunnel is a necessary step before construction can begin. Regarded as one of the most critical infrastructure projects in the U.S., this new tunnel is expected to help replace the century-old one currently used by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains. Due to the old tunnel’s steady deterioration and damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, local officials are concerned that its continued use will require major repairs. Such repairs will very likely be a major disruption to the region’s transit networks and economy. Additionally, the security of the project’s funding has become precarious and uncertain under the Trump Administration, which “has not committed to providing federal financing for the tunnel, raising questions about whether it supports the project,” as The New York Times states. Most recently, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) withdrew its cooperation from the Gateway Program Development Corporation. While this does not mean the project has been denied funding, the DOT said “the decision underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring there is no appearance of prejudice or partiality in favor of these projects ahead of hundreds of other projects nationwide." For more on the Gateway program and other transportation plans for the New York metro region, see our previous coverage here.

U.S Department of Transportation withdraws from $24 billion Gateway Program

Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated commitment to building new infrastructure, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) has withdrawn its cooperation from a massive $24 billion transportation project between New York and New Jersey, as reported by New York Daily News. The Gateway Program Development Corporation planned to bring a new rail bridge, Portal North, to Newark as well as a new tunnel under the Hudson River that was meant to replace the existing, crumbling tunnel that suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy. The program also looked to expand Penn Station and build new bridges to better connect Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. However, the DOT notified the Gateway’s board of trustees of their withdrawal last Friday. "It is not DOT’s standard practice to serve in such a capacity on other local transportation projects," read the letter to the Gateway board of trustees, which also counts Amtrak and board members from the New York and New Jersey Port Authority as members. Plans to build the new tunnel have been in the works since the Obama administration, where a deal was struck so that New York and New Jersey officials would take on half of the costs while the federal government and Amtrak would undertake the other half. Trump had also included the Gateway program in his list of "Emergency & National Security Projects," a list of about 50 national infrastructure projects that was first published in January by the Kansas City Star. The Gateway project has been billed as one of the largest regional transit projects in the Northeast, one that would address the growing number of commuters from New Jersey as well as the region’s deteriorating infrastructure. The current two-tube tunnel linking New Jersey and Penn Station shuttle more than 200,000 riders daily. If one tube fails before new tunnels are built, capacity could be reduced by 75 percent, according to Amtrak. The DOT clarified their withdrawal, saying that “the decision underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring there is no appearance of prejudice or partiality in favor of these projects ahead of hundreds of other projects nationwide,” in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

How is the New Jersey Meadowlands planning for climate change?

Although many in the tristate area know it as a place to just drive through, the New Jersey Meadowlands is a critical micro-region just west of New York City. A quarter-million people commute on Amtrak and local rail through the area every day, and it’s the warehouse and distribution hub for the region—Amazon just purchased a 600,000-square-foot warehouse there, near the Teterboro Airport, to expedite its shipping operations. With 800 acres of preserved wetlands, the Meadowlands also sustains fisheries and migrating birds. That ecology co-exists with critical infrastructure: power and wastewater treatment plants, as well as petroleum production, but its soil and water holds contaminants that pose great risk to human health. Together, the value of all property in the Meadowlands is assessed at $6.2 billion.

The low-lying area is also particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. Last Friday at Assembly, the Regional Plan Association’s annual conference, stakeholders convened to discuss its future. Facing Climate Change in the Meadowlands” brought together Robert Ceberio, president and founder of consulting firm RCM Ceberio; Stephen Dilts, office leader at New Jersey’s HNTB, an infrastructure planning firm; Debbie Mans, executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper; and Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio and assistant professor of landscape architecture at CUNY. The talk was moderated by Eugenie Birch, the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

The panel raised big questions: Where do we retreat from, and where do we protect? How can fixed infrastructure be adapted? How will resiliency planning sustain natural ecosystems? And—with sea levels projected to rise three feet in the next 60 to 80 years—how soon can we start?

From 1969 through the early 2000s, the Meadowland’s growth was guided by a master plan. That plan called for the major development of the wetlands, backed by literal tons of infill (the debris from Penn Station and the London blitz lives there now, below some NJ Turnpike spur). After the plan expired in 2004, the residential population dropped to 30,000 from 70,000 while commercial space more than doubled to 6.5 million square feet of warehouses, stores, and offices.

It used to be that no one cared about the health of the wetlands, Ceberio said. The former executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission added that now, though, “resiliency and flood control is on the top of everyone’s mind,” When planning the area, “we used to look at heights of buildings in relation to the Teterboro Airport. Now we’re looking at FEMA maps.”

But the will to act is another question. “Are people in state and federal government are going to step up and do it?” he asked, sort of rhetorically, but other panelists were eager to jump in.

The lack of a major plan—and a timeline—for sustaining a critical area was a running theme, foreshadowing words of warning from conference keynote Joe Biden. The former vice president told elected officials, planners, and AEC professionals in the audience to “stop being polite” and “sound the alarm” on the “shameful” state of the region’s infrastructure. “You need to start shouting about how bad things are,” he said.

In New Jersey, at least, the stakeholders are vocal. Debbie Mans said that obstacles to resiliency planning abounded. Since the state legislature dissolved the Meadowlands Commission seven years ago, she said, there’s been a piecemeal approach to what should be a comprehensive regional strategy. She took issue with grand plans put forth by Rebuild By Design, HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. The plans called for hard and soft infrastructure, including a wall in the middle of the wetland. They're soft, Mans said, is levees and berms. But with green infrastructure already intact, “bisecting and filling it intuitively doesn’t make sense.” The implementation, too, is scattershot; she questioned what the state and the region would receive for the millions being spent in the Meadowlands.

There was a consensus among panelists that more needed to be done to re-orient the crisis-by-crisis response approach towards a more proactive planning framework. Ceberio pointed out that the Gateway Program's tunnel entry point is in the Meadowlands. (The project will build a massive rail tunnel under the Hudson River to replace Hurricane Sandy–damaged tubes used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.) But he noted climate change puts the project in a precarious position: “If flood scenarios become reality those tunnels are gone. Gone!”

Beyond trains, around 1,900 people in the area could be displaced due to rising sea levels within the next 30 years. Despite the risks, residents want to stay. But there are hard conversations that need to happen. When people are passionate about a place like residents are about the Meadowlands, “they do things to sustain it,” Seavitt said. “In all of its tawdriness, it’s beautiful.” There's a long way to go: “If there was a reasonable, strategic, well-thought-out plan we’d get behind it,” said Mans. “But we don’t see that right now.”