Blue Dunes – conceptual design for a string of barrier islands in response to the challenges of regional coastal resiliency in the northeastern United States. WXY along with a team of Landscape Architects, Scientists and economist, developed hydrodynamic and economic models to show that offshore dunes, potentially coupled with offshore wind renewable energy, have great potential to diminish risks for loss of life and property in the New York/New Jersey region.
When Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012, it devastated communities across the Northeastern United States, causing significant numbers of lost lives and billions of dollars in damages in the second costliest hurricane in US history. The expense and complexity of building up and changing over 4000 miles of coastline just in the NY-NJ area has eluded large scale plans and funding and approvals that would need to be coordinated between a large number of states and municipalities of varying size and economic conditions.
Funded by US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rockefeller Foundation through the Rebuild by Design competition, WXY and WEST8 produced the materials and studies for presentation and discussion by communities of scientists, experts in risk management, government agencies, USACE and waterfront residents. Through a set of colloquia, the opinions of a variety of experts in the region were solicited - marine biologists, oceanographers, hydrodynamic modelers, urban planners, lawyers, financial experts, catastrophic bond analysts, USACE and many more. The project was presented through panels and lectures and was the subject of Columbia University Press publication Blue Dunes - Climate Change by Design; Edited by Jesse M. Keenan and Claire Weisz.
The resulting hydrodynamic and economic models showed that offshore dunes, potentially coupled with offshore wind renewable energy, have great potential to diminish risks for loss of life and property in the region.
This approach offers an effective line of defense for a wide variety of storm types, and promises to mitigate the risks of extreme weather for a significant portion of the region’s residents and businesses. The study showed that substantial annual savings, in the range of tens of millions dollars for flood insurance alone, could be procured and leveraged for future resiliency measures at the regional or national level.
In addition to rigorous financial and economic analysis, ecological impacts were also researched. The islands, over time, could become unique ecosystems with rich biodiversity, providing habitats for numerous coastal species and opportunities for education and recreation for the region.