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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has just announced the six winners of their prestigious Rebuild by Design contest, created by President Obama in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as a way to develop ideas that will drastically change the physical, ecological, and economic resilience of coastal cities. A whopping $920 million is allocated to proposals by six interdisciplinary teams that represent some of the best planning, design, and engineering talent in the world.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo stated at the announcement of the winners, “Building stronger and more robust infrastructure is essential to preparing for the new reality of extreme weather, and with the support of our federal partners New York is becoming a national leader is storm resiliency.”

We’ve outlined a list of each winning proposal with some information about what makes them so awesome: 

1. The Big U by BIG Team

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Led by BIG TEAM, a group of architects, engineers, and urban planners from Denmark and the Netherlands, the Big U proposes to construct deployable walls that can be flipped into position in case of a flood around ten continuous miles of vulnerable, low lying geography. The protective system will stretch from West 57th street south to the Battery and up to East 42th street and focus will be given to three designated regions called compartments, which include the waterfront and associated communities. BIG TEAM will receive $335 million to go forward with their project.

2. Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: A Comprehensive Strategy for Hoboken by OMA

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OMA is a Dutch team of architects and urban designers who wish to program hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense in Hoboken, New Jersey. Their process is all in the title. Water will be delayed by a slow rainwater runoff, then by a circuit of interconnected green infrastructure, and finally discharged using water pumps. This team will receive the second largest amount of money from HUD, $230 million.

3. Living with the Bay: A Comprehensive Regional Resiliency Plan for Nassau County’s South Shore by Interboro Architects

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The Interboro Team merges the best from Dutch and American land-use planning and other related disciplines to implement a revolutionary new system that will help protect Long Island from future extreme weather incidents. Their plan is based on the “buffered bay,” a concept that protects Long Island communities by strategically employing constructed marshes, dikes, and cross-structures along urbanized areas, managing storm water, expanding housing options near high and dry areas near public transportation, and more. The Interboro Team will receive $125 million.

4. New Meadowlands: Productive City + Regional Park by MIT CAU + ZUS +URBANISTEN

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MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN joins Dutch and American thinkers to focus on protecting New Jersey’s Meadowlands Area, one of the most obviously susceptible areas of risk in a water related disaster. The Meadowband is a flood protection system comprised of public transportation routes and different opportunities for towns to grow. Land-use zoning will be shifted to urban areas in an effort to define the area’s identity. This project will receive $150 million.

5. Living Breakwaters by SCAPE / Landscape Architecture

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Staten Island took one of the biggest blows during Superstorm Sandy and the SCAPE / Landscape Architecture team has a unique plan to protect the borough in case of a future water-related disaster. Instead of creating a protective barrier between people and water, they say that Living Breakwaters plans to “embrace” water by focusing on creating breakwaters that control wave damage and prevent erosion or flooding. Staten Island sits on an ultra vulnerable area called the New York Bight, which means that this program will also have to focus on providing residents and educators with the information they need in case of future emergencies. SCAPE / Landscape Architecture will receive $60 million.

6. Hunts Point Lifelines by Penn Design/Olin

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PennDesign/Olin is a cross disciplinary research, design, and communication team who want to help reaccess Hunts Point’s flood protection measures. This will be done primarily by creating a Flood Protection Levee Lab to stay prepared with Maritime Emergency Supply Lines in case regular food supply lines are cut. They also propose ways for the Hunts Point community to build their own flood protection. This project will receive $20 million.

Drop the author a line @douglascapraro.

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