Credit: Noah.Kalina

Today, efforts to rebuild after the devastation wreaked on the northeast by Hurricane Sandy took another step forward, as finalists were announced for the Rebuild by Design competition. The competition to develop contextual, but scalable solutions to rebuild and strengthen regions that were ravaged by the October 2012 storm was announced this June by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. Donovan also serves as the chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task force, which is the organized the competition in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation. Rebuild By Design received more than 140 submissions from 15 countries. That entrant pool was culled to 10 teams, which were selected "because of the talent they bring to the table, their pioneering ideas and their commitment to innovating with a purpose and competing not just to design but to build something," Donovan said in a press release. The finalists include:

  • Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes.
  • PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics.
  • WXY Architecture + Urban Design/West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser.
  • Office of Metropolitan Architecture with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors.
  • HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America.
  • SCAPE with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design.
  • Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP.
  • Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects.
  • Unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy.

The finalist teams will proceed to the next, eight-month long stage of the competition, which begins with site analysis. The findings from this stage, which is being facilitated by New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge, will be developed into a series of reports, which will be released to the public, and will serve as resource guides for each region under consideration. Each team will then begin design development of a site-specific proposal; schematic designs are due in February 2014. These sites will be chosen in collaboration with state and local government agencies. The finalist teams have already begun to identify their areas of focus. For example, WXY Architecture + Urban Design/West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture plan to examine urban and infrastructural strategies—in the competition’s “Ecological and Waterbody Networks” category—that link the coastline and inland areas, allowing for a connection to the water while mitigating storm surge. This is an arena that WXY is already exploring with its Blueway Plan for a four-mile stretch of New York’s East River, which was already in development before Sandy hit. The team led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) with One Architecture is planning to approach their scheme by examining what BIG described in a release as “the concepts of social infrastructure and hedonistic sustainability.” This investigation into physical infrastructure paired with social planning would be site specific, but scalable across different regions.

Once the finalist teams have submitted their designs, they will be evaluated by a jury. Winning teams will be able to develop their proposals through to implementation begin in March 2014. Winning proposals will be implemented with Federal Disaster Recovery funds. "The projects that come out of this competition will save lives and protect communities in this region,” Donovan said in the release announcing the finalists, “and—as the Task Force will emphasize in the Rebuilding Strategy to be released in the coming weeks—serve as model as we prepare communities across the country for the impacts of a changing climate.”