MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten win Rebuild by Design competition


The MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten team in collaboration with Deltares, 75B and VolkerInfra win the Rebuild by Design competition with their proposal New Meadowlands.

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten team as a winner of the Rebuild by Design competition. The team’s winning design proposal "New Meadowlands” protects a unique area of approximately thirty square miles in the NY/NJ Metropolitan Region, against future flood events. The comprehensive regional project addresses issues of ecology, economy, transportation and real estate development.


Of the CDBG awards announced today one hundred and fifty million dollars will be used for the first phase of New Meadowlands towards flood protection of the communities of Little Ferry, Moonachie, Carlstadt and Teterboro to create the first section of the Meadowband. Once implemented, this project will provide flood protection, recreational wetlands and economical development opportunities to the many residents of the area. 

Over the last months the team worked in close collaboration with the State of New Jersey, Federal and State agencies as well as the fourteen municipalities that are part of the Meadowlands.

“The winning proposals are truly transformative and serve as blueprints for how we can safeguard the region and make it more environmentally and economically resilient,” said Secretary Shaun Donovan."

“The New Meadowlands project articulates an integrated vision for protecting, connecting, and growing this critical asset to both New Jersey and the metropolitan area of New York. The first phase of their proposal focuses on Little Ferry, Moonachie, Carlstadt, and Teterboro. By integrating transportation, ecology and development, the project transforms the Meadowlands basin. This project addresses a wide spectrum of risks while providing civic amenities and creating opportunities for new redevelopment.”
The wide acceptance of the ideas the project embodies was also evident through the numerous community meetings and stakeholder workshops the team conducted over the past nine months, aiming to achieve a balance between competing environmental, economic, and social interests in a way that would maximize benefits to all."

In 2013 the MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten team undertook a regional analysis in which the team identified factors that could be used to help identify the most vulnerable and at risk areas within the region. The team mapped flood risk, social vulnerability, pollution hazards and vital networks to identify areas where these factors overlapped and the most concentrated risks or vulnerabilities occurred.
The Meadowlands district, which was identified as one of the critical and promising geographies of the metro region, consists of historic wetlands located only three miles west of Manhattan and three miles north of the Newark ports. Over the past century a wide variety of land uses in the region have had a significant impact on the wetlands and their ecological function as well as on their resilience in face of severe weather events. Industrial and warehousing uses, transportation hubs and a wide range of utility facilities and residential uses have been developed in the Meadowlands. These developments have not taken the highly vulnerable nature of this low-lying land into consideration.

New Meadowlands
The New Meadowlands project provides an integrated vision for protecting, connecting and growing this critical area to both New Jersey and the metro¬politan area of New York. The crux of the project is to provide protection against a variety of different flooding scenarios. A linear berm with recurrent gates is proposed along the edges of the Meadowlands and most of its devel¬oped areas to address storm surge flooding. Within the protected areas, several sizeable fresh-water basins are proposed. These basins serve to absorb rainwater flooding, substantially reducing the storm water runoff into sewer lines.

This winning proposal consists of two key elements, namely the Meadowpark and the Meadowband. These elements are carefully woven together as part of the broad design scheme for the New Meadowlands. The integrated design connects and expands ongoing marshland restoration efforts by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission into one connected and legible regional wildlife refuge - the Meadowpark. The Meadowpark will be accessible to visitors at appropri¬ate places. This large reserve will also act as a major value adder and asset for the surrounding developed areas.

The other key component of this proposal is the Meadowband, a civic amenity consisting of a local street, a Bus Rapid Transit-line, a string of public spaces, recreation zones and wildlife reserve access points on top of the outer berm and its slopes. The Meadowband is the missing civic link in the Meadowlands basin: a public space that mediates between the different ecological and economical systems and between local and regional scale.

Rebuild by Design was founded as a response to Superstorm Sandy’s devastation in the region. Rebuild by Design is dedicated to create innovative community- and policy-based solutions to protect U.S. cities that are most vulnerable to increasingly intense weather events and future uncertainties. Initiated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Rebuild by Design’s aim has been to connect the world’s most talented researchers and designers with the Sandy-affected area’s active businesses, policymakers and local groups to better understand how to redevelop their communities in environmentally and economically healthier ways and to be better prepared.

Official press release

More info on Rebuild by Design
More info on New Meadowlands