Ahead of the Tides: Floating Structures as a New Model of Resilience for New York City

Student | Anna Yie
Faculty | Leonel Ponce, Ira Stern
School Of Architecture, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

This project identifies possible locations for RETI Center’s Blue City, a proposal for floating structures that reclaim waterfront industrial space, increase flood protection, provide habitat, and strengthen local and city systems through circular economy principles. Through an investigation of relevant policies, a comprehensive overview of agencies and other stakeholders and the role each plays in waterfront policy, and spatial factors, a framework and maps are created to identify possible sites around NYC.

Qualitative and quantitative spatial data analyses were conducted. The qualitative analysis indicates potential sites in each borough: Mott Haven and Hunts Point (Bronx), NY Container Terminal (Staten Island), Newtown Creek and Flushing Bay (Queens), Lower East Side (Manhattan), Red Hook and Sunset Park (Brooklyn), and Jamaica Bay (Brooklyn/Queens).
RETI Center’s Blue City project is comprised of three modular Blue Block typologies Blue Block Float provides occupyable space. Blue Block Garden is a floating phytoremediation garden. Blue Block Filter, is a living shoreline typology that increases biodiversity and coastal protection. Blue Blocks diagram. Source: RETI Center.
The qualitative data were analyzed and mapped across multiple datasets in five categories: physical and bathymetric constraints to siting, policy considerations relevant to NYC’s Waterfront Revitalization Program, conflicting existing and planned infrastructure, environmental constraints and opportunities, and upland community assets.
Project methodology included an extensive data discovery and assessment process, including background research and identification of key factors, spatial data collection and processing, data analysis methodology selection, mapping and analysis of results, and the integration of non-spatial considerations.
To confirm the visual analysis, a similar summation of factors was performed using values instead of colors. Point factors were summed within the bounds of each area. Vector layers were merged by dataset type and their effect (negative or positive). Prohibiting conditions and unusable areas were layered on for visual clarity.
This composite qualitative analysis map indicates positive land and shoreline siting factors in blue. Negative site factors are layered on top to mask/hide ineligible locations.
Using the information and methodology from this capstone, RETI Center can identify not only priority areas but important potential collaborators and partners. Blue City will need partners to help build climate-adapted systems, create jobs, educate students and the public, and protect important natural resources. Blue City Illustration, Source: RETI Center.