In the Wake of Hurricane Sandy, New Design Competition Promotes Resiliency

sandy
In December last year, President Obama signed an executive order creating the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce. One result of this new taskforce is Rebuild by Design, a “multi-stage regional design competition to promote resilience” in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. According to the taskforce, the goal of the competition is to “promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort.” The competition will use HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding to “incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals.” This is an exciting opportunity for landscape architects and other designers that has the potential to guide future development.

The taskforce writes that “design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale – from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits. The competition process will also strengthen our understanding of regional interdependencies, fostering coordination and resilience both at the local level and across the U.S.” However, organizers are specifically looking for solutions that “can ignite innovation, outside-the-box perspectives, and address new trends” while having a significant regional impact. The taskforce wants the competition to connect local government efforts to those at the national level, while also bringing in multiple players from the business, academic, and non-profit sectors.

Given the region they are focusing on is very complex, “with differing governance structures, culture, etc,” the competition is organized into groups: coastal communities, high-density urban environments, ecological and water body networks, and a catch-all category of unidentified or unexpected focus.” Teams submitting entries will need to focus on one area:

Coastal communities
This category focuses on small- to mid-sized coastal communities. These communities are characterized by limited capacity and high coastal vulnerability. Here, there is often a tension between environmental and economic systems (i.e. the tourism industry is dependent on the environment and also vulnerable to it).

High-density urban environments
These economically-significant areas have impacts on both the region and the nation as a whole. These communities have highly complex built and human systems and significant economic value for the entire region. When storms like Sandy hit these communities they cause major disruptions to both the local and regional economy.

Ecological and waterbody networks
These networks are regional by nature; watersheds and ecosystems disregard administrative boundaries and must be considered from the regional scale. This category focuses on the interdependencies between the built and natural environments.

The unidentified and unexpected
This category allows for selected teams to pursue unexpected questions and innovative proposals outside of the framework provided above. This is an open category to encourage outside-the-box approaches and proposals.

Design teams must have professional proficiency in three of these subjects: infrastructure engineering, landscape design, urban design, architecture, land use planning, community development, communications design, public finance, or real estate. Teams should also have expertise in: social sciences, economic development, ecology, hydrology, water safety, transportation, resilience, sustainability, project management, finance, arts, graphic design, industrial design, or other disciplines as appropriate.

The first round of the competition will result in 5-10 finalists, which will then be given $100,000 in stage two of the competition to further flesh out their design proposals. Teams moving to stage three will receive another $100,000. The first round jury includes Shaun Donovan, HUD Secretary; Dr. Howard Frumkin, Dean, School of Health, University of Washington; Ricky Burdett, LSE Professor; Mark Terkel, President of The Nature Conservancy; Bruce Katz, Vice President at the Brookings Institution; representatives from ASLA, AIA, and ULI; and others.

Read the design brief and send in your qualifications and proposal by July 19. Find answers to your questions.

In other news from the federal government: Laurie Olin, FASLA, just became the fourth landscape architect in American history to receive the National Medal of Art. Previous winners include landscape architects Lawrence Halprin, Dan Kiley, and Ian McHarg. The National Endowment for the Arts writes that Olin is recognized “for his contributions as a preeminent landscape architect. Renowned for his acute sense of harmony and balance between nature and design, Mr. Olin has dedicated his energy to shaping many iconic spaces around the world and to educating new leaders in his art.” He’s in great company this year, too. Star Wars visionary George Lucas, painter Elsworth Kelly, and opera singer Renee Fleming will also be honored.

Image credit: Hurricane Sandy damage / New York Daily News

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