In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a team of four newly minted Northeastern grads won a national architectural competition to design sustainable homes for the devastated coastline of the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, N.Y.
The design bested more than 60 entries from 20 countries by creating a plan that gradually adapts the neighborhood to sea-level rise while replacing lost wetlands critical to protecting the seacoast from violent storms.
The judges were impressed by the environmentally friendly details, noting that the structures would be built from “a standardized kit of parts produced by local manufacturing facilities” and that the design was sensitive to the particular character of the Red Hook areas.
The design included a number of striking innovations:
• Stilted construction above existing buildings.
This allows the neighborhood to retain its current character while preparing for sea-level rise with new construction. It also allows for increased density in response to population growth.
• New construction on vacant lots that is both stilted and modular.
Units can be raised or moved during violent storms and then returned to their original location following cleanup. As sea level rises, they can be raised permanently, allowing for the development of salt marshes below.
The architectural renderings submitted by the team— Lukas LaLiberté, David Parker, Matthew Stoner, and Debby Yeh, all AMD’13—provided detailed drawings showing how the neighborhood will evolve over the next 2,300 years as sea levels rise.
The 3C: Comprehensive Coastal Communities competition was sponsored by Operation Resilient Long Island, a grass-roots committee of New York architects dedicated to helping coastal towns plan for the future. Winners were selected by a panel of eight professionals in the fields of architecture, urban planning, and disaster mitigation.
The initial blueprint for their submission, called Adaptive Urban Habitats, was drawn at Northeastern during their Senior Comprehensive Design Studio course.
Today, all four alums are working at architectural firms from Boston to San Francisco, but they plan to collaborate on future projects.
“We’re all young and interested in big issues. We plan to continue to work together on challenges that seem really intimidating,” says Yeh.
Next up? Reimagining the old elevated railway in New York as a space that promotes community health.