The Big U

The Big U is a protective system that encircles Manhattan, responding to the needs and concerns of the island’s diverse communities. Stretching from West 57th Street south to The Battery and up to East 42nd Street, the Big U protects 10 continuous miles of low lying geography that comprise an incredibly dense, vibrant, and vulnerable urban area. The proposed system not only shields the city against floods and stormwater; it provides social and environmental benefits to the community, and fosters an improved public realm. Coordinated plans were created for three contiguous but separate regions of the waterfront dubbed “compartments. Each compartment comprises a physically discrete flood-protection zone that can be isolated from flooding in adjacent zones. Each presents unique opportunities for integrated social and community planning. The compartments work in concert to protect and enhance the city, but each compartment’s proposal is designed to stand on its own. Proposed solutions for the components were designed in close consultation with the associated communities and many local, municipal, State and Federal stakeholders; each proposal has a benefit-cost ratio greater than one; and each is flexible, easily phased, and able to integrate with existing projects in progress.

location: Manhattan, New York
client: Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, State Planning department
collaborators: One Architecture, BIG Bjarke Ingerls Group, Starr Whitehouse
year: 2013-2014

Battery Park

Battery Museum

FDR Salt Park

FDR Salt Park

Big Bench

FDR Art Stormwall