Resilience + The Beach

New Jersey


The Barrier Islands are the most responsive stretch of the New Jersey shore, constantly shifting with the energy of sea and storm. Significant development has occurred in recent decades; yet, Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the vulnerability of development on the barrier islands. Although opportunities to attract people and commerce are present today in inland or bay landscapes, the current focus is the beach: the most vulnerable, rapidly changing area. To broaden the experience of the rich barrier island ecosystems and encourage safe sites for future development, the iconic language of the perpendicular beach pier extends into an ecotourism gradient that redefines the coast as the entire ecosystem between the beach and the N.J. Pinelands, leading to migration of development from the barrier island edge to stable inland areas and to growth of a more layered tourism economy. The site for this project includes Seaside Heights, Toms River, and Berkeley Township.


The Headlands are the most exposed stretch of the New Jersey shore, with open ocean views and direct wind and wave action.  Today, the beach is shaped and protected for human use only, minimizing its function for the diverse ecology needed for a protective dune landscape and necessitating ongoing sand replenishment. The Boardwalk is an ever-present cultural icon – yet it does little for coastal ecology and remains vulnerable to storm surge. The Headlands design opportunity explores a more organic boardwalk form and topographic section that provides the infrastructure to capture sand and form dunes, creating protection while serving as habitat area for beach wildlife to attract visitors. The boardwalk-dune is coupled with improvement of inland lakes and green infrastructure to absorb surge and improve character. The site for this project is Asbury Park, N.J., chosen for its iconic boardwalk, coastal lakes, diverse population, cultural history and redevelopment energy.


The Inland Bay is the most complex region of the New Jersey shore, where a legacy of industrial uses, densely-populated maritime communities, and increasing integration into the New York City economy intersect with a rich estuarine environment. These multi-layered conditions have different vulnerabilities to storms and sea level rise, making New Jersey’s inland bay resistant to a singular form of intervention.  Water culture in the Inland Bay is centered on the marina, for commercial fishing and recreation. Building on its recreational and commercial role, the marina will be joined with marsh functions to enhance coastal protection while providing new sources of value for adjacent ecosystems and communities. In combination with new marina functions, marsh landscapes will be designed to mitigate contamination.  The site is the Natco Lake district, which is illustrative of a range of shore conditions and encompasses Union Beach, Keansburg, and the man-made lake between them.

Download the boards presented by Sasaki/Rutgers/Arup in 2013.

Go to team page


March 7, 2014 7:33 pm
from joyce Grant, Founder, Citizens for Oceanfront Preservation

The beautifying and ecological “public land” dreamscape of the north end and Deal Lake waterfront will mostly enhance the adjacent property of iStar/Asbury Partners who have the property rights and ownership of said property. They plan to develop there consequently putting undue stress on already stressed storm management systems, unnecessay harm to a developed fragile ecological environment surrounding our waterways, and creating an unwelcome public access to our public beach and land. Project will not be beneficial to Asbury Park unless the developer’s adjacent property is acquired. Otherwise well thought out and designed project. Letter to also be sent to main players.


March 8, 2014 9:39 am
from Nita Congress

The interactive survey ( is a very thoughtful, thought-provoking exercise. Everyone should take it — particularly policy makers and planners. This sort of tool truly demonstrates that you can’t “have it all,” and its use will lead to wise and balanced decision making.


March 10, 2014 11:10 am
from Stephanie Cesario

The Sasaki/Rutgers/ARUP group was well versed on their subject and understands the history of our beach community. Not only am I pleased to see the possible implementation of beach/boardwalk/hardscape improvement as a community member, but as a design and construction professional as well. The conceptual design intent matches the need for Asbury Park, is well designed for longevity, and is very aesthetically pleasing.


March 18, 2014 7:22 am
from Paulo Heyman

I have an idea for a submerged reef that would buffer wave action from hitting our shores. I am aware that previous attempts around the world have resulted in, for the most part, failure. I believe they failed because there was nothing supporting them from sinking into the sand substrate they were lying on.

Steel, galvanized helical piles could be anchored into the sandy, ocean floor. They would provide a holding capacity for an overlying reef structure, constructed of recycled concrete or some other material. The helical piles would be angled to provide lateral resistance to wave action and movement of the sand. Galvanized helical piles have are corrosion-resistant for a minimum of 75 years.

The reef could be positioned to buffer the waves to break offshore.


March 20, 2014 6:18 pm
from Nancy Sabino

The concepts we’ve seen and the integration of environmental concerns with cultural history impresses me most about the Sasaki’s design for Asbury Park. We are excited and enthusiastic about moving ahead and working together to build the best shoreline and streetscapes for our community to beautify and to make our city safe for future storm surges.


March 24, 2014 2:10 pm
from Joey Schweigert

It is exciting to see a well thought out approach to rebuilding that does more than replace what was existing. Building to alleviate the impacts of future storms and climate change are essential.


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