The Living Breakwaters at Conference House Park, a Project of Ambitious Regenerative Proportions


On the first of June—one of those rare days invoked by the American poet James Russell Lowell—we met our advisor and Patagonia’s long-time chief storyteller Vincent Stanley, and boarded the Staten Island Ferry for a visit to Tottenville. The village is the last stop on the Staten Island Rapid Transit line, at New York City’s and New York State’s southernmost tip.  We were eager to see with our own eyes the planned site of the Living Breakwaters, a $60 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a winner of HUD’s Post-Sandy Rebuild by Design Challenge. Now in the conceptual design phase led byScape/Landscape Architecture LLC, and implemented by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, the breakwaters will be located off the coast of Tottenville along the shore of Conference House Park.

Living Breakwaters is intended to be much more than a defense against the inevitable superstorms to come in the age of climate change. It is a project of ambitious regenerative proportions that holds promise for broad adaptation in other shoreline communities.  Its aims are threefold and mutually reinforcing: to adapt the vulnerable south shore of Staten Island to withstand the worst ravages of likely future superstorms, to restore and enhance shoreline biodiversity, and to foster stewardship by reconnecting a community with its rich marine heritage. Read more…

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