“The LafargeHolcim Awards was the most important recognition we received,” said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner architect at BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group. He presented the Awards prize-winning project “BIG-U (Dryline)”, protecting lower Manhattan from flooding, at the 12th Holcim Bau-Forum in Hannover, Germany. Under the theme of “Direction: Future”, the event brought together builders, architects, planners, and authorities for an inspiring exchange on the future of building and construction. In the context of diverse challenges including climate change, resource conservation, labor and digitization – Kai-Uwe Bergmann presented a range of projects that look to an exciting future, and a challenging role for architecture.
Thorsten Hahn, CEO of Holcim Germany, welcomed the participants of the Holcim Bau-Forum to the Sprengel Museum in Hannover using another winning project from the LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction to illustrate the evolution in the construction industry. When the first talks started about building a new railway station in Stuttgart (Main Station Stuttgart), the first laptops were on the market; by the time the architectural competition was run, mobile phones were in use; when construction finally started, iPhones had appeared – and if all goes well Stuttgart21 will be completed in 2025. Hence, Thorsten Hahn asked Kai-Uwe Bergmann “What’s next in our industry?”
Bergmann replied by outlining examples designed by BIG – spanning from 15 to 1 billion square meters. The range of projects showed that the construction industry should not wait for the future, but must adapt and innovate to take advantage of new opportunities in digitalization, prefabrication, robotics and a more sustainable approach to materials of all kinds.
From the allotment garden to Mars
BIG also builds small: Bergmann started with a 15 square-meter house with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom made of wooden elements – “the house for today’s allotment garden,” as he called it. Other examples included recycled shipping containers to form student housing constructed on an “intelligent ground floor of concrete” in the port of Copenhagen (700 sqm), the Lego-Museum also in Denmark (“The Capital of Children”, 12,000 sqm), a high-rise “land-scraper” in Vancouver (60,000 sqm), through to feasibility studies to create a biosphere on Mars to populate one billion square meters of surface on the planet. Bergmann enthusiastically showed that architecture must strive to be an interface between the means and possibilities and the needs and the visions of our time – a bridge between reality and aspirations.
The Holcim Bau-Forum included expert presentations about the sustainable production of concrete compliant with BREEAM and German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) sustainability assessment standards. Discussions looked into possibilities for recycling concrete far beyond using it to stabilize roads; the future of Building Information Modelling (BIM), and the next generation of digital approaches in the construction industry. Infra-lightweight concrete (ILC) was also presented. At less than 800kg per cubic meter, it floats, is porous, has an insulating effect, and is highly recyclable – making it a key material when building sustainable infrastructure. The event concluded with the hand-over of sustainability certificates from the Concrete Sustainability Council for two cement plants of Holcim Germany.See more
Focusing on “people-centered performance” is important for increasing sustainability of the built environment. One of the five “target issues” created by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction is “PEOPLE”. The “target issues” are used in the Holcim Awards competition to evaluate and compare all entries. The human factor of sustainability is supported by projects that reflect a sensitive understanding of their unique social and political contexts, and generate the potential for long-lasting positive impacts on the local community.
Within the many facets of ethical standards and social inclusion that form the people “target issue”, the process of community consultation is crucial in many projects. By enabling the active participation of stakeholders in the design and implementation phases of a project – including users, clients, neighborhood affiliations, local authorities and non-governmental organizations – there is a significant opportunity for strengthening shared values and empowering communities.
Community consultation enhances the capacity of the design team to identify and more sufficiently understand locally significant factors, and encourages design solutions that address the distinctive elements of each specific context. The community-centered approach avoids designing from a “clean slate”, but uses its understanding of the well-established community social system to design and implement interventions that are intertwined with improving lives.
Going with the flow
An urban water transport system for Bangkok, Thailand by DI Designs proposes to revive the ancient canals of the city to create a modern network of waterways that will supplement the existing Metropolitan Rapid Transit system. After winning a Holcim Acknowledgement prize in 2014, the project authors are engaged in community consultation with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to ensure the waterways are part of a sustainable urban master plan for the city.
DI Designs were part of a team set the task of studying and finding ways to improve the housing of the many informal communities that live along Ladprao and Bang Sue canals. The process included many meetings and workshops with community leaders, government organizations, universities and private sector companies who were interested to be a part of the urban development along the canal. The objective of DI Designs is to work in detail with the related organizations so that their Resurrected Canals concept is included in the nation’s Thailand 4.0 smart city plan.
Read project overview: Resurrected Canals: Urban water transport system, Bangkok, Thailand
Information driven design
The Dryline (BIG U) addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding with a protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan. The 12 km-long infrastructural barrier incorporates public space with the high-water barrier doubling as parks, seating, bicycle shelters or skateboard ramps. Through the greater understanding developed by consulting with the communities in lower Manhattan, the project not only looked at the water situation, but was also able to ask: What else do the local communities need? Can the design combine water management measures with solutions to other problems and deficiencies identified by the community?”
In partnership with LESReady! (a coalition of more than 25 community groups coordinating planning efforts for the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan), a series of public outreach work sessions with community end-users were conducted. Residents were invited to build their own resilient waterfront through drawings and interactive models with an array of options for creating a collective vision for their waterfront.
The Dryline was created from the specific knowledge of external specialists, as well as the local community. The founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) emphasized how the design work of his office is driven by information. “Our role was to take these inputs and synthesize a design solution that is informed by this wealth of knowledge,” explains Bjarke Ingels, winner of the Global Awards Bronze for 2015.
Read project overview: The Dryline: Urban flood protection infrastructure, New York, USA
What is the right question?
The Sustainable Post-tsunami Reconstruction Master Plan from Elemental led by Alejandro Aravena was developed after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that struck Constitución, a city of 46,000 people in southern Chile. The masterplan responds with “geographical answers” to the “geographical threats” of the earthquake and tsunami risk.
By bringing the community into the process to understand the problems – the design process ensures that the “right questions” are the focus. Through community consultation, the design team broadened the scope of the project to address issues of seasonal flooding and public space: using a forest band between the city and the sea that would dissipate the force of future tsunami waves, but would also address the more immediate concerns of the community. Five years after implementation began, most elements of the project have been implemented to improve the quality of the city. The approach was able to negotiate private benefit with common good.See more
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced USD 170 million has been allocated from the 2017 city budget for the climate resiliency plan of New York City. The funding will be used for the construction of stormwater management infrastructure. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (Dryline) will create flood protection infrastructure spanning from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street. Construction is set to start in 2017 on the project, which has received USD 335 million from the US Federal Government. The New York City budget has allocated an additional USD 170 million for construction of storm water management infrastructure that compliments the Dryline.
The Dryline will protect Manhattan from catastrophic flooding such as the 4-meter storm surge of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and will expand public space along the waterfront. The design team led by the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) envisions the integration of flood safety with recreational spaces that will be accessible to city residents.
The public zones include bike paths, a sloping berm (raised embankment) and new bridges – as well as pop-up sea walls, possibly deployed only during storms. Salt-resistant vegetation will be used to make the area more resilient to future flood events.
The budget also allocates a further USD 27.5 million for the Two Bridges section of the Lower Manhattan Protect and Connect flood protection system, which already has secured USD 176 million from the US Federal government and another USD 100 million from the city. This portion of the integrated urban resiliency plan focuses specifically on preparing the tip of Manhattan for a future storm, and goes beyond storm management alone and also invests in housing resiliency including the many New York City Housing Authority public buildings.See more
The City of New York’s Dryline project has received USD 176 million in funding as part of the USD 1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) run by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). The funding was awarded for a 9km (5.5mi) section of the flood-protection project that will start construction in 2017. The Dryline extends from Montgomery Street at the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project south around the Battery and extending up to include Battery Park City.
The massive East River Storm Barrier will also incorporate some of the best parks in the City of New York. The section of the project will cost a total of USD 475 million to complete, of which the City of New York has already pledged USD 100 million.
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and One Architecture have been selected as part of the design team for the next section. Specific measures have not yet been determined, but are likely to include sea walls and temporary flood walls that could be deployed before a storm, as well as grass berms that double as recreational areas.
BIG is currently working on a 4km (2.5mi) section of the Global Awards Bronze 2015 winning project in the Lower East Side, which had already received USD 335 million from HUD. Pre-design has been completed for the shoreline spanning from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street. The preparation of construction documentation commences shortly and construction is set to start in 2017.
The Dryline urban flood protection infrastructure around Lower Manhattan will guard against future storms like Hurricane Sandy, which was the worst natural disaster in the history of the city and cost 44 lives and USD 19 billion in damages and lost economic activity.
“Hurricane Sandy was a turning point in our efforts to adapt to climate change and invest in resilience”, explains Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency.See more
The Dryline project addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding with a protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan – and is the winner of the global Bronze prize of the LafargeHolcim Awards, the most significant international competition for sustainable design and construction. Created by a consortium led by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and One Architecture, the 13km (8mi) long infrastructural barrier incorporates public space with the high-water barrier doubling as parks, seating, bicycle shelters and skateboard ramps. At the ceremony in New York City, Daniel Zarrilli, Director at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, commended the project for taking and furthering an important City resiliency priority that will enable New York City to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change.
Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International and member of the Global Awards Jury 2015, praised the project’s sensitive blend of hard flood protection infrastructure and solutions for community needs that foster local commercial, recreational, and cultural activities. She enthusiastically commended the project for making a political statement by means of an architectural and urban proposition that demonstrates how the future challenges of sustainability can be a mechanism for enhancing our cities. “The jury had a difficult task with many high quality submissions, but could clearly see The Dryline’s potential as a model to be applied in susceptible regions around the globe, especially in regions with limited economic resources,” she said.
Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Head of the Global Awards Jury 2015, commented on the scope of the project and its multifaceted problem-solving approach. “This is a bold proposition to tackle future challenges by means of a construction that offers a multiple value to society – turning a problem into an opportunity. The Dryline makes an outstanding contribution in terms of risk and resilience, and was selected out of more than 6,000 submissions from all continents to receive one of the top three global prizes”, he said in a video message.
Architects Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Bjarke Ingels (pictured left) and Jeremy Siegel from BIG (Copenhagen/New York) together with Matthjis Bouw from One Architecture (Amsterdam) emphasized the collaborative team approach in establishing the project which included a close involvement of the communities to ensure benefits to local neighborhoods are maximized. The project authors stressed how the project would provide flood protection that anticipates the effects of sea level rise and the likelihood of more intense storm activity. The project also takes the opportunity to enhance social infrastructure. “This project is about resiliency – it is about clever social solutions for generations to come,” Bjarke Ingels explained.
Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, highlighted the importance of the project in building social and infrastructural resilience. “New York City has seen the devastation caused by Sandy. We are firmly committed to addressing these threats, strengthening our neighborhoods, and building a more tenacious New York,” he said.
A protective ribbon to reclaim the waterfront
After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, New York City proposed a series of investments in Southern Manhattan, described as integrated flood protection, that would reduce the risk of flooding and integrate into the neighborhood fabric. In collaboration with the City, a consortium led by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group developed The Big U as a protective system around the low-lying topography of Manhattan, from West 57th Street, down to The Battery, and up to East 42nd Street. The proposal was conceived of as a continuous line of protection, broken up into three compartments, with each compartment shaped by the communities and stakeholders it was intended to protect.
The project under the original title BIG U (East River Park) was one of six design proposals to address vulnerabilities exposed by Hurricane Sandy that was selected by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Rebuild by Design competition in 2014. Of the USD 920 million HUD allocated to New York, New Jersey, and New York City to begin implementation of the winning projects, USD 335 million was awarded to the City of New York for the realization of one of the three compartments described in the BIG U proposal – the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project – from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street.
The ESCR Project is being refined as a standalone compartment to mitigate future climate change and flood risks on Manhattan’s East Side. The solution includes a mixture of elements, which may include concrete “bench” water barriers that also serve as playgrounds, bike shelters and planters; along with berms that also function as green areas and attenuate traffic noise or transform bleak zones beneath elevated roadways into public pavilions with a dual function of flood containment. When completed, it will benefit thousands of public housing and other residents of a particularly vulnerable part of Manhattan, and will demonstrate a new model for integrating coastal protection into neighborhoods, consistent with the City’s resiliency vision.
Commitment to create sustainability beyond the construction industry
Alain Bourguignon, Executive Committee member of LafargeHolcim responsible for North America, noted that the Awards were an integral part of the company’s commitment to sustainable development. “LafargeHolcim wants to remain the most CO2 efficient international cement producer. Furthermore, we want to leverage our position as the world leader in the building materials industry to support sustainable construction beyond our production plants and distribution chains. Through the international Awards for Sustainable Construction we aim to advocate solutions that incorporate architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life”, he said.
Holcim and Lafarge joined forces in July 2015 to become the new global leader in the building materials industry. With a commitment to drive sustainable solutions for better building and infrastructure and to contribute to a higher quality of life, the Group is best positioned to meet the challenges of increasing urbanization. The activities of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction – known since 2003 for its international Awards competitions, academic Forums, online information hub and an array of publications – continue under the name LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction.
Global Awards for projects in Colombia and Sri Lanka
The LafargeHolcim Awards is an international competition that recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts on regional and global levels. A total of USD 2 million in prize money is awarded in each three-year cycle. A project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia that creates urban spaces around a series of water tanks to form a “socio-technical” landscape won the Gold prize; and Silver was awarded to a community library project in the rural town of Ambepussa that recycles building materials and aims to reintegrate soldiers into post-war Sri Lankan society. The 5th cycle of regional and global Awards competition will open for submissions in the second half of 2016.See more
The founder of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group explains how the design work of his office is driven by information. The Dryline project to implement creative urban infrastructure that protects Manhattan from floods was created from the specific knowledge of external specialists, as well as the local community. “Our role is to take these inputs and synthesis a design solution that is informed by this wealth of knowledge,” explains BIG founder Bjarke Ingels at the Global Awards Bronze 2015 prize ceremony in New York.
A short film created by project architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) gives an overview of the vision they co-developed with the people of New York City for urban flood protection infrastructure. The 4-minute film “The Dryline” captures the personal impact of Hurricane Sandy in a series of vignettes featuring residents and visitors to New York City – and their desire for a creative response to the city’s flood vulnerability.
To visualize the extensive team work between the authorities, the big number of involved specialists and the citizens of New York, Bjarke Ingles introduced the film at the Global Bronze Awards ceremony to the audience: "The production of this film was possible through the prize money from the regional Holcim Awards for North America 2014 at which the project received the Silver prize", he explained.
How can a coastal city be protected against surging floodwater without simply surrounding it with a dyke? “The Dryline” is designed to provide flood prevention and enhance daily life on Lower Manhattan in New York City.
The design proposal for ten miles of waterfront was developed over a period of about three months. A number of interventions were planned in conjunction with the city and the community, always tailored to the local needs and physical circumstances. Several basic elements were employed. A system of variously shaped concrete elements is called “big bench.” These form water barriers while also, depending on the particular form, serving as benches, planters, playground seating, bike shelters, or skateboard ramps. The second major element is dykes, which can be built up where space allows. These also serve as green areas and attenuate traffic noise emitted from FDR Drive, the freeway along the East River. Bleak leftover spaces beneath elevated roadways could be transformed by adding public pavilions. Here, market stands, exhibitions, and event venues can be set up. In the event of an emergency, the storm shutters can be rolled down and locked, and the dual function of flood containment comes into play. Also, the entire twelve-kilometer stretch of waterfront could be enhanced with a continuous bicycle path.
Matthijs Bouw from One Architecture in Amsterdam is part of the project team: “We not only looked at the water situation, we also asked ourselves: What else do the people of Manhattan need? Can we combine our water management measures with solutions to other problems?”
A large-scale integrated flood protection system to address the vulnerability of New York City to coastal flooding won the Global Holcim Awards Bronze. The “Dryline” project by a consortium headed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen/New York), and One Architecture (Amsterdam) in collaboration with the City of New York, propose a protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan using a series of raised berms and other measures to create public spaces along the water’s edge. The infrastructural barrier incorporates a range of neighborhood functions that foster local commercial, recreational, and cultural activities.
Mohsen Mostafavi praised the project for turning a problem into an opportunity. “The project makes a political statement by means of an architectural and urban proposition – where tangible solutions to the effects of climate change can be created, where New York City is a prototype from which similar strategies in susceptible regions around the globe could be pursued”, he said.Read more »
Notwithstanding the merit of the proposal’s vision and its commitment to translate an infrastructure into an urban space accessible to all, the project was nonetheless controversially discussed. On the one hand, the jury appreciated the scheme’s bold proposition to tackle the ramifications of climate change by means of a construction that offers a surplus value to society – turning a problem into an opportunity. On the other hand, the issue was raised as to whether the project was not more reactive rather than proactive, addressing the effects of climate change instead of its root causes.
Debate aside, the project makes a political statement by means of an architectural and urban proposition, arguing that climate change indeed can no longer be suppressed or discarded as a figment of environmentalist imagination and that tangible solutions truly exist. Moreover, the jury considered the project’s potential as model to be applied in other contexts, with the case of New York understood as a prototype from which to learn in order to pursue similar strategies in susceptible regions around the globe, including, most importantly, regions with limited economic resources.
As one of the three main Holcim Awards winners for North America in 2014, “The Dryline” automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2015. All 15 finalist project teams were asked to submit an updated and more comprehensive entry that was evaluated by a global jury in March 2015.
The results of the global phase of the 4th Holcim Awards competition were announced on April 20, 2015.
The BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group exhibition “Hot to Cold: an odyssey of architectural adaptation” at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC will run until August 30, 2015. The exhibition includes the Holcim Awards winning “The Dryline” project, and provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the creative process used by the firm.
“Hot to Cold” takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet while exploring how design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts. The exhibition features more than 60 three-dimensional models that are suspended at the second-floor balconies of the Museum’s Great Hall in an unprecedented use of this public space.
Bjarke Ingels was named by Wall Street Journal Magazine as “Innovator of the Year in Architecture” in 2011, and has coined the phrase “hedonistic sustainability” to reflect his philosophy that environmentally-responsible buildings and neighborhoods need not be defined by pain and sacrifice.
Bjarke Ingels says that architecture is not just about decorating a box, but also about reconfiguring things for the better: “If we’re extremely successful we can maybe build 50 structures in our life span. But if we can make something that inspires others, it might be the beginning of a new species that can evolve and migrate, and we can make a much more substantial impact on the world we play a role in creating,” he explains.
The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. The building was also the site of the 3rd Holcim Awards ceremony for region North America in 2011. “Hot to Cold: an odyssey of architectural adaptation” continues at the National Building Museum until August 30, 2015.
More information: “Hot to Cold”See more
The winners of the global phase of the 4th International Holcim Awards competition will be revealed on April 20, 2015. The results will be announced via the Holcim Awards website.
The USD 2 million Holcim Awards is the most significant international competition for sustainable design. The jury composed of renowned specialists from around the world and headed by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA) will evaluate 15 projects out of more than 6,000 submissions. The finalists are the winners of the Holcim Awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards 2014 in each of the five competition regions of the world.
The finalist projects competing for one of the three Global Holcim Awards prizes are located in Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and the USA and were entered by authors from these countries as well as from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. They reflect a broad variety of the current interpretation of sustainable construction combined with architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life beyond technical intervention.
The submissions will be evaluated by the Global Holcim Awards 2015 jury including Marc Angélil, Senior Dean of Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Alejandro Aravena, Principal of Elemental (Chile), Maria Atkinson, Founding Director of the Australian Green Building Council (Australia), Meisa Batayneh Maani, Principal of maisam architects and engineers (Jordan), Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International (Ecuador), Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA), Matthias Schuler, Principal of Transsolar(Germany), and Rolf Soiron, Chairman of the Board of the Holcim Foundation (Switzerland).
The winners of the global prizes will share prize money of USD 350,000. Previous winners of the tri-annual Global Holcim Awards include Bureau EAST (Los Angeles, USA), Centola + Associati (Salerno, Italy), Coelacanth and Associates (Tokyo, Japan), Ingenhoven und Partner Architekten (Dusseldorf, Germany), Kéré Architecture (Berlin, Germany), L’OEUF (Montreal, Canada), Public Architecture (San Francisco, USA), Proyectos Arqui5 (Caracas, Venezuela), realities:united (Berlin, Germany), Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo, Brazil).
About the Holcim Foundation and Holcim
The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation promotes and illustrates the strength of diverse strategies of achieving greater sustainability of the built environment. As part of its approach, the Foundation publishes booklets on outstanding examples of applied sustainable construction. The initiatives of the Holcim Foundation include the USD 2 million Holcim Awards – the most significant international competition for sustainable design.
Since it was established in 2003, the Foundation has been supported by Holcim in more than 70 countries worldwide and is independent of commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt, including services.See more
The BIG U project to address New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding continues to gather support by constructing a protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan. The urban flood protection infrastructure project won the 2015 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Regional & Urban Design after receiving the Community Development Award in October 2014. The project also received USD 335 million in funding by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in June 2014.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Institute Honor Awards for Regional & Urban Design celebrate projects that expand the role of the architect beyond the building and into the realms of urban design, regional and city planning, and community development. The BIG U was one of four recipients of the award for 2015, along with: Beijing Tianqiao (Sky Bridge) Performing Arts District Master Plan by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Government Center Garage Redevelopment in Boston by CBT Architects; and Target Field Station in Minneapolis by Perkins Eastman.
The BIG U is a 10-mile protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan that addresses vulnerabilities exposed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The BIG U consists of three components: BIG Bench, Battery Berm, and Bridging Berm. BIG Bench is a continuous protective element adapted to the local context that mediates new and existing infrastructure. The Battery Berm weaves an elevated path through the park, enhancing the public realm while protecting the Financial District and critical transportation infrastructure. This signature building features a “reverse aquarium” that enables visitors to observe tidal variations and sea level rise. The Bridging Berm rises 4 meters by the highways, connecting the coast and communities with greenways.
The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) Community Development Award was established in 1985 to recognize and acknowledge projects and individuals who have had a substantial impact on the built environment within the various localities of New York State or on the State of New York as a whole.
Funding supports environmental and economic resilience
The Holcim Awards Silver winning project under the title the BIG U (East River Park) was one of six design proposals selected by in the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Rebuild by Design competition. HUD allocated USD 920 million to New York, New Jersey, and New York City to begin implementation of the winning projects that will make the region more environmentally and economically resilient.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) proposal of a protective system around Manhattan’s edge is driven by the needs and concerns of the community. Building on the New York City Special Initiative for Recovery and Rebuilding (SIRR) report, the BIG Team weave together infrastructure investments with a community approach.
Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds will be used to implement the first phase of the proposal along the Lower East Side, creating a “bridging berm” at the East River Park. The bridging berm provides robust vertical protection for the Lower East Side from future storm surge and rising sea levels. The berm also offers pleasant, accessible routes into the park, with many un-programmed spots for resting, socializing, and enjoying views of the park and river. Both the berms and bridges will be wide and planted with a diverse selection of salt tolerant trees, shrubs, and perennials to create a steadfast urban habitat.
The overall proposal protects ten continuous miles of low-lying geography that comprise an incredibly dense, vibrant, and vulnerable urban area. The proposed system not only shields the city against floods and stormwater, it also creates and provides social and environmental benefits to the community through an improved public realm.
Rebuild by Design was created in mid-2013 by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as a way to develop ideas capable of dramatically improving the physical, ecological, and economic resilience of coastal areas. The competition has produced regional, cross-disciplinary collaboration between state and local governments, the ten design teams, regional non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and the public. The Rockefeller Foundation has been the lead financial supporter of the competition. Teams worked to create coalitions with local and regional stakeholders to develop locally-responsive proposals to improve the tenacity of waterfront communities.See more
Kai-Uwe Bergmann from Bjarke Ingels Group – BIG proposes a large-scale flood protection system by means of a set of small-scale interventions. “Rebuild by Design: Urban flood protection infrastructure, New York, USA” won the Holcim Awards Silver for civic infrastructure that responds to climate change and rising global sea levels.
Matthijs Bouw from One Architecture sees the potential for social and economic benefits in the flood protection infrastructure. “Rebuild by Design: Urban flood protection infrastructure, New York, USA” won the Holcim Awards Silver for its innovative hard infrastructure with local community-driven sensitivity.
The Rebuild by Design project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding by using a raised berm and sequence of public spaces along the water’s edge won the Holcim Awards Silver. The 13km (8 mi) long infrastructural barrier to mitigate the impact of future storms with the devastating force of Hurricane Sandy was designed by a consortium led by architects Bjarke Ingels and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark/USA). The jury acknowledged the project’s sensitive blend of hard infrastructure and local community needs.Read full media release – Holcim Awards 2014 for North America »
The BIG U project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding by using a raised berm and sequence of public spaces along the water’s edge won the Holcim Awards Silver. The 13km (8 mi) long infrastructural barrier to mitigate the impact of future storms with the devastating force of Hurricane Sandy was designed by a consortium led by architects Bjarke Ingels and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark/USA). The jury acknowledged the project’s sensitive blend of hard infrastructure and local community needs.
To propose a large-scale flood protection system by means of a set of small-scale interventions was viewed by the jury as an ingenious solution that could easily be transferred to other similar conditions – in an age marked by climate change and rising global sea levels. The panel appreciates the project’s conceptual framework proposing to merge the requirements of a “Robert Moses” type of hard infrastructure with the local community-driven sensitivity of “Jane Jacobs”. Here, local neighborhoods actively engage in defining specific programs, functions, and public amenities along a line that acts as a civic infrastructure belonging to the public at large.
The BIG U project addresses the vulnerability of the city of New York to coastal flooding, as experienced during the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and proposes a protective ribbon around lower Manhattan. The master plan, to be executed in several phases, uses a raised berm strategically to create a sequence of public spaces along the water’s edge along the raised bank. The infrastructural barrier incorporates a range of neighborhood functions and as a result offers multiple design opportunities, fostering local commercial, recreational, and cultural activities.
Superstorm Sandy overwhelmed New York City and surrounding regions in 2012 and caused USD 65 billion in damages in the USA. The federal government issued Rebuild by Design, an unprecedented call to action to not only repair but to enhance preventative measures and encourage collaboration across agencies. BIG U mediates between perceived opposing forces (growing cities and exposure to extreme weather) so they can work together. Neighborhoods in the floodplain can strategically grow to provide coastal protection while improving commercial, recreational, and cultural resources. The project proposes a protective ribbon around Manhattan: the Westside down to The Battery and up the Lower East Side (LES). BIG U bundles infrastructure with localized civic needs, improving at-risk waterfront communities for well-balanced living. It consists of multiple design opportunities; each on unique scales of time, size and investment; each neighborhood tailoring its own set of programs. In the initial phase, the focus is placed upon LES and the Battery.
BIG U consists of three components: BIG Bench; Battery; and Berm. BIG Bench is a continuous protective element adapted to local context that mediates new and existing infrastructure. It is designed like street furniture: practical yet playful. The Battery features protective landscape anchored by an iconic museum. The Berm rises 4 meters by the highways allowing a park-scape to connect coast and community with harbor paths and greenways. Ultimately, The Berm will cap the highway.
Progress: From Bangkok to Venice, coastal cities are at risk. BIG U’s various segments become a catalog of adaptive strategies and replicable prototypes.
People: An intensive public process including team, residents, and 25+ disaster preparedness groups. Residents designed their own waterfronts through drawings and interactive models.
Planet: BIG U is community-focused, offers more smart growth for cost, and uses land more efficiently. Community micro-grids and water management plans create redundancies to decrease storm risks and allow incremental climate change adaptation. BIG U could also bundle renewable energy systems to further increase reliability.
Prosperity: Segmented, BIG U is able to incorporate various financing models. Leveraging local and government investment engages neighbors in developing protective measures that create tremendous economies of scale.
Place: BIG U embraces social infrastructure and balances stringent regulations for safety, operation and durability with communal amenities.Download project entry poster (PDF, 2.56 MB) »See more
The founder of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group explains how the design work of his office is driven by information. The …
A project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding with a protective ribbon in Southern …
Global Holcim Awards jury member Meisa Batayneh Maani notes the daring and visionary nature of the Bronze-winning project …
Head of the Global Holcim Awards jury 2015, Mohsen Mostafavi, highlighted the creation of distinctive public space and …
The Holcim Awards Silver 2014 winning project for North America addresses the vulnerability of New York City to coastal …
The BIG U project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding by using a raised berm and sequence …
Kai-Uwe Bergmann from Bjarke Ingels Group – BIG proposes a large-scale flood protection system by means of a set of …
Matthijs Bouw from One Architecture sees the potential for social and economic benefits in the flood protection …
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