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Rebuild by Design - BIG U



  • CLIENT: US Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • LOCATION: Lower Manhattan, New York City

  • SIZE: Eight mile perimeter around Lower Manhattan

  • COLLABORATORS: Bjarke Ingels Group, Buro Happold, Starr Whitehouse, James Lima Planning, Arcadis, Olin, PennDesign, HR&A, MacLaren Engineering

  • SERVICES: Resiliency Planning, Integrated Flood Protection


Designing Resilient Urban Habitats for the Future

After Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the New York region, the federal government allocated over $50B for promoting long-term resiliency in Sandy-affected areas. The Rebuild by Design competition was launched. Ten international teams proposed ideas for preparing the region for future storms.

Collaborating with Bjarke Ingels Group, Buro Happold, Starr Whitehouse and James Lima Planning, LEVEL was part of a team that secured a $335M federal award to fund construction of their entry, the BIG U  an eight-mile protective perimeter around Lower Manhattan, designed to shield the area during future flooding. The proposed physical infrastructure also encourages cultural and social use: it integrates local artwork into expanded public spaces, showcases environmental educational initiatives, and facilitates commerce in the local market.

LEVEL provided resilient infrastructure planning advice regarding flood protection design, water and energy planning, and alternative financing structures.

The BIG U has won numerous planning awards, most notably the APA National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design and the Holcim Global Design Excellence Award.

BIG U plan.jpg

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