The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design Competition in June 2013 to spur new ideas and collaborations for improving coastal area resiliency in the Sandy-affected region. Placing substantive collaboration between designers, researchers, community members, and government officials at the heart of an iterative creative process, the Rebuild by Design Competition advanced ten visionary design proposals to address the intersection of physical, social, and ecological resiliency.
One of those proposals, led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and dubbed the "BIG U," put forward a vision for resilient, social flood protection infrastructure along Manhattan's most vulnerable coastal areas in close coordination with residents, stakeholders, and City officials.
The BIG U consisted of separate but coordinated plans for three contiguous sections of the East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan, called compartments. Each compartment is envisioned to comprise a physically separate flood-protection zone, isolated from flooding in other zones, yet integrated into the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the neighboring communities. The compartments will work in concert to protect and enhance the city, but each compartment's proposal is designed to stand on its own.
In June, 2014, HUD announced a $335 million award to the City of New York for the implementation of one of the three compartments described in the BIG U proposal, from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street - the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project . When completed, it will benefit thousands of public housing and other residents of a particularly vulnerable part of Manhattan, and will demonstrate a new model for integrating coastal protection into neighborhoods, consistent with the City's resiliency vision.