Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: A Comprehensive Strategy for Hoboken

Winning Project

Hoboken, New Jersey

OMA with Royal HaskoningDHV; Balmori Associates; and HR&A Advisors

Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken are susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. As integrated urban environments, discreet one-house-at-a-time solutions do not make sense. What is required is a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the density and complexity of the context, galvanizes a diverse community of beneficiaries, and defends the entire city, its assets and citizens.

Our comprehensive urban water strategy deploys programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense (resist); policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff (delay); a circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater (store); and water pumps and alternative routes to support drainage (discharge).

Our approach is framed by a desire to understand and quantify flood risk. In doing so, we are better positioned to identify those opportunities that present the greatest impact, the best value, and the highest potential — our areas of focus. Our objectives are to manage water―for both disaster and for long-term growth; enable reasonable flood insurance premiums―through the potential redrawing of the FEMA flood zone; and deliver co-benefits―that enhance our cities. These are replicable innovations that can help guide our communities on a sustainable path to living with water.

1. Resist: Programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense

2. Delay: Policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff

3. Store: A circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater

4. Discharge: Water pumps & alternative routes to support drainage

Resist: Defense against storm surge is primarily a question of elevation. The height of flood defense measures is determined by an extreme water level analysis, which is based on storm surge water levels to defend against—in this case, a one-in-500-year storm surge water level—and expected sea-level rise.


Delay, Store: Flash flooding from rainfall occurs when rainwater overwhelms the capacity of the drainage system—water goes in faster than it can come out—the intended level of defense against this systemic seasonal flooding is a one-in-ten year flood level.

Delay strategies act like a sponge by slowing rainwater down. This slower rate of flow gives more time for the drainage to do its job.

Store strategies temporarily take excess water out of the drainage system. This water can later be returned once the system has recovered capacity.


Discharge: While Delay and Store address water going in, Discharge strategies address water going out—removing water from the system. Additional pumps, and alternative drainage routes, increase the rate in which this can occur.

Together, these complementary strategies provide a robust, cost effective, system of defense that no single strategy can deliver.



At Weehawken Cove, a park landscape serves as a defensive wall, protecting Hoboken, Weehawken, and critical regional utilities from storm surge. Wetlands provide a natural filter, mitigating potential Combined Sewer Overflow events. Both enhance recreational amenities for the community and future development.  Along Washington Street green infrastructure measures—such as permeable paving, rain gardens, and bioswales―help manage the city’s surface water and reduce the risk of flash flooding from rain; whilst enhancing the cityscape.  Along the extents of the Hoboken Light Rail, otherwise discreet rainwater storage initiatives are connected to make a green circuit. This system serves as the foundations of a parallel green drainage infrastructure; reducing the risk of flash flooding from rain, filtering and cleaning storm water and serving as a park for the community.

Our proposal results in a continuous, defended, New Jersey Shoreline; and a sustainable path to living with water.

Download a PDF of the team’s final competition boards here.

View a PDF of the team’s full proposal here.

Read about highlights from the design process.

Review an earlier version of the proposal here.




Bike Hoboken, Community Emergency Response Team, County of Hudson Division of Planning, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Hoboken Boys and Girls Club, Hoboken Catholic Academy, Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, Hoboken City Council, Hoboken Commuter Community, Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, Hoboken Day Care, Hoboken Developers, Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HOLA), Hoboken Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan, Louis Berger (Together North Jersey),  Hoboken Housing Authority, Hoboken Jubilee Center, Hoboken Resident Community Hopes, Jersey City Division of City Planning, Mile Mesh, Mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer, Mayor of Jersey City Steven Fulop, Mayor of Weehawken Richard Turner, New Jersey Department Environmental Protection,New Jersey Economic Development Administration, New Jersey Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, New Jersey Transit, North Hudson Sewerage Authority, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and PATH, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSEG), Re.Invest Initiative (Rockefeller Foundation), New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Stevens Institute of Technology,  US Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of the Interior, Weehawken City Council



April 16, 2014 6:34 pm
from Joan Abel

Today I spent some time at the LSP Science Center studying the concepts of a number of the teams. Your comprehensive analysis of the contained geographic area of Hoboken is well thought out, on the whole. The city-wide canal system, of course, is a pet project of my own. Separating the stormwater runoff from the waste lines is a no-brainer, but well illustrated, taking cues from the underlying historical land and water interface. The shoreline wall will be better understood when your graphics are more fully developed. I trust you will show in section the existing built environment with a raised berm on the land side of the wall and some opportunity to physically reach the river at certain points along the shoreline. Probably reinforced with rip rap. Thank you all for the excellent thinking behind your presentation.


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