Flooded Battery Park Tunnel after Hurricane Sandy. Image: Timothy Krause via Flickr.
A barrier wall proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers as one of several options being evaluated to shield the New York area from rare storms–which may well become less rare and more destructive with global warming–is the subject of a heated debate among planners and environmental experts. Supporters suggest that a barrier be constructed in the outer New York Harbor where it’s mostly hidden from view, saying it would go the farthest in protecting people, land and valuable landmarks along the waterfront from a storm surge. Others fear the idea is a short-sighted measure that doesn’t address major climate threats–and could even worsen matters by trapping sewage and toxins during flooding from high tides and storm runoff. President Donald Trump, however, remains the sole proponent of the mop-and-bucket approach, as the New York Daily News reports.
What will save us from a tweetstorm?
Construction shots via R. Douglas/Tectonic
Three-and-a half years after Superstorm Sandy, New York developers are taking to the sea at a faster pace than ever. The most dramatic changes are in store for the East River shoreline, where more that two dozen developments are in construction or planned on both the Brooklyn and Manhattan sides. Ranging from the two million-square-foot Cornell Tech campus to the second largest condominium tower in the city going up at One Manhattan Square, the developments will usher in thousands of new residents and a sprinkling of workers to the flood-prone areas.
As of late, the tidal strait’s most striking addition has been a pair of asymmetrical, copper-clad towers at 626 First Avenue in Murray Hill. Last week, the team led by Michael Stern’s JDS Development topped off construction on the 470-foot-tall southeastern tower. The taller 49-story, 540-foot northwestern tower finished its vertical rise some time earlier this month.
How is the project protecting itself from another possible storm?
For the past few months, all eyes have been on the new Whitney. From architecture reviews of Renzo Piano’s modern museum to insider looks at the galleries, New Yorkers can’t stop talking about the design of this game-changing structure. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the building, though. In 2012, halfway through construction, Hurricane Sandy flooded the museum with more than five million gallons of water, causing the architects to rethink the site.
The Whitney now boasts a custom flood-mitigation system that was “designed like a submarine,” according to engineer Kevin Schorn, one of Piano’s assistants. As The Atlantic reports, the system has a 15,500-pound water-tight door that was designed by engineers who work on the U.S. Navy’s Destroyers and can protect against a flood level of 16.5 feet (seven feet higher than the waters during Sandy) and withstand an impact from 6,750 pounds of debris. But what’s just as amazing as these figures is the fact that this huge system is invisible to the average person.
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Nearing the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, developers, architects, and building owners are still wrestling with how to keep their waterfront properties safe from any future storms that may wash up on New York’s shores. Some have moved mechanical systems above ground, white others have installed heavy duty generators and emergency lighting and elevator systems. But a popular preventative mechanism among the posh residences of the West Village and Lower Manhattan is AquaFence, a portable, temporary flood barrier system that can defend structures from flood heights of up to eight feet.
See how this product is constructed and installed