In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild By Design contest sought proposals for flood protection systems. Among the seven finalists was Bjarke Ingels‘ and One Architecture & Urbanism‘s BIG U, a flooding solution for Manhattan that doubles as a social environment. Now after five years, the first phase of the 10-mile barrier system is getting underway. Rebuild By Design and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) have released an RFP for a stewardship partner for the BIG U’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), a $335 million reconstruction of the 64-acre, 1.5-mile East River Park. With construction expected to kick off in spring 2019, the partner will “explore stewardship models with funding mechanisms that could enhance the long-term operating budget while addressing issues of equity.”
“Not only is New York City going to build the cheapest, ugliest version of the big dumb wall, there’s a very good possibility that it won’t even be big enough.”
According to a recent Rolling Stone article titled “Can New York Be Saved in the Era of Global Warming?” the level of storm protection put in place to protect the city from future superstorms may fall short of the elegant solution that was originally promised. According to the story, the city funded a proposal–Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)’s winning submission in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design contest–that involved a 10-mile barrier system that would protect Lower Manhattan from the ruinous effects of storm surges and sea-level rise. Called the Big U, the $540 million infrastructure project would be designed to contain parks and public spaces. But because of cost issues, the project may not materialize as planned.