Our team focused on the Meadowlands based on a regional analysis aimed at identifying areas that face a broad range of risks. The underlying policy argument is that a federal dollar is best spent when it helps address not just flood risk alone, but rather the combined effects of flooding, heat islands, pollution, social vulnerability, and vital network protection. Furthermore, the Meadowlands Commission is a case study in inter-municipal collaboration, positioning it well for a coalition-building effort.
Our proposal will contribute to a new balance, by rebuilding ecosystems as landscapes for water storage and recreation. These landscapes will add value and create new development opportunities along the edges of the Meadowlands between natural and urban systems. Development adjacent to this ecosystem could become a model for a new kind of co-existence of industrial (logistics) and residential programs. Interweaving these programs and exploiting their proximity will reinforce the growing ties between where people work and live in the municipalities around the Meadowlands.
The concept of a resilient district also entails measures to provide emergency amenities allowing critical supplies, data access, energy and waste management to adjacent communities for a 2-3 week period after a disaster. It also includes a careful study of evacuation routes to high ground. Zooming in, the southern edge of the Meadowlands, the west half of Jersey City, Kearny and Secaucus are strategically located for flood control while also carrying the burden of urbanization pressure emanating from Manhattan. Several project processes are already underway along the Hackensack riverfront. Fitting these into a bigger project, and infusing them with resiliency measures, will unlock this strategic location with benefits for the entire region: a resilient district of residential and logistics, built around a large park. This district also contains critical logistics and utility clusters. In this collusion of these pressures, we believe an important project is possible; and today is the moment to build a coalition for its realization.
Our vision includes a gradual conversion of substantial parts of the Meadowlands into a regional landscape infrastructural park that protects the edges from floods and rebuilds biodiversity lost over the past century; absorbs water; and hosts recreational, civic programs. Along the edges, a mix of new residential density and other uses could take advantage of the park as a civic amenity. This scenario will maximize benefits from the close proximity to Manhattan but keep the area attractive and desirable to a mix of audiences.
Download the boards presented by MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN in 2013.