HUD Awards Funding for Staten Island Breakwaters Project

The project is designed to reduce storm risk to Staten Island

HUD Staten Island Parsons Brinckerhoff Hurricane Sandy

A proposal to create “living breakwaters” to reduce the risk to Staten Island from future coastal storms, developed by SCAPE/Landscape Architecture in collaboration with Parsons Brinckerhoff, has been named a winner in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design competition.

Rebuild by Design is an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force intended to encourage the development of innovative restoration and resiliency measures for cities and towns in the region affected by Superstorm Sandy. 

HUD designated six winning proposals and is allocating approximately $920 million to New York (including New York City) and New Jersey to begin implementation of the winning projects to make the region more environmentally and economically resilient. The State of New York received $60 million to build out the entire Tottenville portion of the Living Breakwaters project. Parsons Brinckerhoff served as the lead for infrastructure planning, regulatory review and economic cost-benefit analysis for the SCAPE team.

In announcing the winners, HUD stated: “The winning proposals come from six interdisciplinary teams representing some of the best planning, design and engineering talent in the world. These inventive proposals are a blueprint for how communities can maximize resilience as they rebuild and recover from major disasters. HUD chose the winners for their excellence in design and resilience and their engagement with local communities. These ideas will serve as a model for how we can mitigate the effects of climate change and natural disasters in communities throughout the Sandy region, the United States and the world.”

The Living Breakwaters project involves creating protective breakwaters and tidal flats and rebuilding oyster populations within Raritan Bay. The project in the southern part of Staten Island, near Tottenville, is intended to reduce risk, revive ecologies, and connect educators and local students to the shoreline, inspiring a new generation of harbor stewards and a more resilient region over time.

The breakwaters reduce wave action and erosion, lowering risk from heavy storms while creating “reef street” micro-pockets of habitat to host finfish, shellfish, and lobsters. This living infrastructure can be paired with programs to promote social resiliency, build local capacity for risk management and ecological restoration, and enhance access to the waterfront. Through the Billion Oyster Project and an associated network of programmed water hubs, local schools will be empowered with science, recreation, education, and access to the water.

While the Living Breakwaters project will be implemented in Staten Island, the concept can be replicated throughout coastal areas vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The Rebuild by Design competition is a partnership of government, philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. Lead funding was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, with support from the JPB Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, the Surdna Foundation and the New Jersey Recovery Fund. The competition was administered in partnership with The Municipal Art Society, NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, Regional Plan Assn., and Van Alen Institute.

Parsons Brinckerhoff

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