Developed by: SCAPE/LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Dr. Philip Orton / Stevens Institute of Technology, Ocean & Coastal Consultants, SeArc Ecological Consulting, LOT-EK, MTWTF, the Harbor School and Paul Greenberg

Situated at the mouth of the New York Bight, the south shore of Staten Island is vulnerable to wave action and erosion, particularly on its south shore in Tottenville. Dredging and the diminishment of natural and farmed oyster reefs have left it increasingly exposed over time. One of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Sandy, Tottenville experienced severe erosion from the storm, and, given the predicted impacts of sea level rise, it will continue to lose acreage in the future if no action is taken to protect the area.

Location: Tottenville, Staten Island, NYC

Award: $60 Million

Implemented By: New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery


 Living Breakwaters was conceived to connect physical, social, and ecological resilience. The proposal is a “necklace” of offshore breakwaters that will reduce risk, revive ecologies, and connect residents and educators to Staten Island’s southeast shoreline. The structure will provide habitat to the Raritan Bay’s rich ecosystem of marine life, and an on-land Water Hub will be constructed with space for visiting groups, recreational activities, and educational programs. The team’s work with the Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project will bring educational opportunities for local school groups, teaching the next generation of ecological stewards about protecting Staten Island’s fragile coastline.  

Living Breakwaters is designed to work in concert with other ongoing resilience initiatives in the area, including the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Tottenville Dune and Coastal Dune Plantings project. The vegetated dune system will be strengthened by the breakwaters, to provide a layered system of protection.  


View the team's full proposal here

Progress on Implementation

Numerous studies have been performed to gather and assess sediment, archaeological and historic resources, and wildlife and plant species. The community is engaged through interactive design workshops and meetings, shorewalks, and beach clean-ups, as the project’s design is refined.

Click here for the project website>>

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