Protective sand islands in long narrow threads would run along the Atlantic seacoast from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Cape May, New Jersey, in one of the most ambitious proposals unveiled last week by Rebuild by Design. The program is a high-speed, invited competition sponsored by a presidential task force, guided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and others. The islands were among the strategies proposed by 10 interdisciplinary teams, to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy and protect against flooding due to rising seas and more violent storms.
“The task force brings innovative resilience, not just for individual cities, but across the region,” said Henk Ovink, the senior advisor to HUD secretary Shaun Donovan at the unveiling in Lower Manhattan. The cordon of islands, called Blue Dunes, would absorb wave energy and reduce the height of the storm surge on the order of five feet. It was proposed by an interdisciplinary team led by WXY Architecture and Urban Design, of New York, and the Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8. “We asked, how do we get away from building high flood walls everywhere?” said WXY principal Claire Weisz.