FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Ennead Architects / Ennead Lab is one of four finalist teams to proceed to Phase II of the For a Resilient Rockaway (FAR ROC) design competition for the sustainable and resilient development of Arverne East, an approximately 80-acre parcel on the Atlantic Ocean devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The catastrophic impact of the storm on low-lying communities, such as those on the Rockaway Peninsula, emphasized the need for critical consideration of new sustainable development in waterfront areas. The FAR ROC design competition was created to guide the development of Arverne East, exploring best practices for design and construction in order to address the area’s outdated infrastructure and incorporate changes to the physical and regulatory landscape generated by the disaster.
When Hurricane Sandy struck in October, Ennead’s West Village office was closed for a week for lack of power. When the electricity returned, the extensive damage to the region’s lowest-lying areas – the Jersey shore, the Financial District, the Rockaways – was revealed, and we were acutely aware that Ennead had been very lucky. As the City began to recover, members of the Ennead FAR ROC team volunteered in the areas hit hardest, served on the Building Resiliency Task Force convened by Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn, and worked extensively with some of our institutional clients to respond to the challenge of climate change, draft a plan for future resilience and set standards for some of the City’s most critical facilities.
Throughout this competition, the Ennead team debated how best to build in coastal areas, even questioning if, as the climate changes and the sea rises, areas of particular geographic vulnerability should be rebuilt at all. The team concluded that such development is possible but with specific guidelines: new development should minimize its human footprint, maximize the area’s ecological potential, be a good neighbor to surrounding communities and ultimately be adaptable to a myriad of environmental and human scenarios. Ennead’s Phase I submission embodied this thesis, forging strong physical connections with the neighboring community, providing a place of shelter for the community during storm-surge events, and perhaps most importantly, creating a strong sense of place and identity for this community so closely connected with its coastal surroundings. The team will develop the proposal further in Phase II. The competition winner, along with the other Finalists and Honorable Mentions, will be recognized formally at the AIA New York Heritage Ball on October 24.