The Big U: Rebuild by Design
New York, New York
- Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners
- New York, New York
Starr Whitehouse teamed with BIG Architects for HUD’s Rebuild by Design competition. The Big U, the team’s mega-scaled vision for protecting Manhattan, wraps the island from West 54th Street south to The Battery and north to East 40th Street, combining Robert Moses’ grand vision with Jane Jacobs’ fine-grained sensibility by integrating vertical protection elements with features to enhance local quality of life. The result is a series of interventions that foster physical, social, and economic resiliency. Sculptural berms in the median of the West Side Highway respond to the culture and character of upland neighborhoods; protective topography at The Battery enhances visitor experience for millions of tourists; a programmed berm in East River Park creates passive recreation space and stunning water views. On the Lower East Side, streets leading to the river are reimagined as corridors of green infrastructure, and underperforming public housing campuses are equipped with rain gardens and productive landscapes that can help to absorb and filter storm water.
As leaders of the team’s outreach efforts, Starr Whitehouse designed a series of four community workshops that put design and ideation techniques normally reserved for the studio into the hands of over 150 community members. Starr Whitehouse’s years of experience working in Lower Manhattan allowed them to assemble key sites at the island’s prow and engage the myriad Federal, State, City, and non-governmental stakeholders in a dialogue critical to protecting some of the City’s most valuable assets.
Renderings courtesy of The Big U Team.