USA: What a Hurricane Sandy recovery program can teach cities about resiliency

Source(s): Curbed

By Diana Budds 


Last week, Shaun Donovan, HUD secretary in the Obama Administration, and landscape architect Kate Orff, spoke with journalist Nicholas Lehmann about their experience working on Rebuild by Design, the resiliency initiative that began as a design competition in response to Hurricane Sandy recovery, as part of Columbia’s yearlong investigation about water in social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental contexts.


Rebuild by Design led to the development of Living Breakwaters, a collaborative project between Orff’s firm, SCAPE, and the Billion Oyster Project, to construct a natural oyster reef along Staten Island’s southern shoreline. The reef will reduce the power of waves during extreme weather events, will restore marine habitats, and fosters community stewardship of the landscape.


Rebuild by Design began as an open-ended competition that invited designers to research and develop ideas for resiliency projects. There wasn’t a specific brief or request for proposals, like most public works projects. Approaching infrastructure projects with a singular mindset is part of the reason why the country is struggling with flooding.


With that urgency came a desire for results—and the opening of wallets. Rebuild by Design relied on unconventional funding to work. Because of the laws related to funding projects, HUD couldn’t dedicate its budget on the competition, but could guarantee funding for the winner through Community Development Block Grant Disaster money, which is provided by HUD but allocated by the state. The Rockefeller Foundation stepped in and funded the competition phase. Then, the state allocated its CDBG money to the project.



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Hazards Flood
Country and region United States of America
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