The post-Hurricane Sandy revival of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk is a symbol of public design’s power to catalyze community renewal.
In late 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Department of Design and Construction asked a team of designers to tackle the daunting challenge of rebuilding devastated boardwalks, concession buildings, and other beach amenities in time for the following summer season.
The project is emblematic of a new direction in public design that melds infrastructure and public amenities to support both social and environmental resilience. The Federation supports holistic design approaches like those showcased here, strategies that serve multiple goals through community-driven solutions.
At Rockaway Beach, for example, Sage and Coombe Architects, working with McLaren Engineering Group, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, and Pentagram, designed a series of raised “islands” that provide outdoor showers, shading from the summer sun, and access to concession facilities. Each surviving structure was wrapped in a graphic with an overlaid area map of the Rockaways, providing a visual icon orienting visitors along the length of the beachfront. The project included sustainable features such as stadium seating built from salvaged boardwalk, dune replenishment and stabilization, and compliance with FEMA standards for shoreline construction.
Design and construction were conceived and completed within five months, opening on Memorial Day 2013 and receiving an Award for Excellence in Design from the New York City Public Design Commission.
Photo Credit: Giles Ashford