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Old Posted Sep 13, 2011, 2:40 PM
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How Design Can Save NYC When The Next Big Storm Hits

How Design Can Save NYC When The Next Big Storm Hits

September 12th, 2011

By Suzanne LaBarre

Read More: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664977/...big-storm-hits

Video: http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/videos/125/802

Last March, MoMA opened an exhibit on how to adapt New York City to the watery effects of climate change. Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront was strangely clairvoyant. Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm before it sauntered into New York and didn’t flood the city the way experts feared. But for the first time, New York City had to face the fact that its infrastructure was deeply vulnerable to a major storm.

- So it’s worth revisiting some of the ideas in the exhibit, in which five architecture firms showed how the city could prime itself to deal with storms instead of fortify itself against them. The architects called it “soft” infrastructure. “We wanted to think about how the city could live with the larger natural phenomenon instead of walling it off,” Adam Yarinsky, principal of Architecture Research Office (ARO), tells Co.Design. “That failed catastrophically in New Orleans. It’s about wetlands edges, green edges, and basically allowing water to come into select areas of the city.”

- The architects’ solution: “In lieu of a literal wall around lower Manhattan, which would cost millions of dollars but would only perform in a flood, we proposed an ecological infrastructure that would allow water in and out of lower Manhattan,” Yarinsky says. “We’re thinking about a continuum of land and water.” That would unfold in two ways: The edge of the city would be peppered with islands and marshes to diminish the force of storm surges, and the streets themselves would be more “porous”; in other words, they could flood without shutting down the city.

- Existing systems, like water, sewage, gas, and electric, would be relocated to waterproof vaults beneath the sidewalk, and roads and buildings would be renovated with greenery and rainwater storage to help absorb rainfall and channel storm-surge inundation to New York Harbor. These solutions wouldn’t keep the streets dry. But that's the point. As Yarinksy tells it: “Downtown will flood because the low-lying areas are below sea level and because of tidal conditions. It’s not about preventing flooding, anyway. It’s about mitigating the impact of flooding on the city, and living with the fact that there are times when the city would flood.


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Old Posted Sep 14, 2011, 11:17 PM
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Very cool. Certainly adapting what we can mainland to the effects of worsening climate is far more practical than giant walls and dams. Here in Chicago, the city has been experimenting with permeable pavers and quite a few new projects have green roofs to the point it's become common design.

How impressive it would be to see NYC rooftops as a sea of green.

Though bundling utilities seems like a pipe dream (no pun intended) it's probably best in the long term. I can only imagine the chaos of conduit beneath the city. Imagine having this all cleaned up and organized, and integrated into a smart grid system.
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2011, 2:54 AM
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Having played with mud and water as a kid, I think I have a simple answer:

Construct an emergency sewer system than is deeper underground than the subways, whose flooding with copper corroding salt water would destroy in a very short time period. When underground NYC is flooded, the damage increases exponentially with how long the salt water remains (fresh water is not nearly as serious a problem).

The key to NYC's (Manhattan) survival is not damaging too seriously the buried power cables, fiber optics cables, fresh water lines, brown water lines, subways, steel rail commuter and passenger train lines, etc.

The keys are drainage grade, and, pumps.

EDIT: regardless of the creation of marsh environments, etc., the key will remain the absolute heigth of sea level. The issue, IMO, will not be slowing the water down as much as not letting it in.
Good read on relationship between increasing number of freeway lanes and traffic

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