By NATHANIAL GRONEWOLD of ClimateWire
Published: January 11, 2010
NEW YORK -- What would New York's waterfront look like after a sea level rise of 2 feet or more?
Most officials paint a nightmare scenario -- huge swaths of expensive real estate permanently flooded, with frequent storms and the resultant storm surge routinely forcing mass evacuations every few years. But several architects are now painting a more positive picture, and their visions for a post-climate-change new New York have city planners interested.
This weekend, the public was given its first glimpse of a project a year in the making: a collaboration between the Museum of Modern Art and its affiliate P.S.1, an art exhibition house. The museums have asked five separate architectural teams to come up with plans for transforming the metropolitan area's coastlines after warmer oceans and melting Antarctic ice have raised global sea levels, something many scientists predict is inevitable.
A full exhibit opens at MoMA on March 24, but what the teams are already coming up with has people talking. They envision a city lined with marshes, permeable coastlines, and oyster farms used as wave breaks. To adapt to climate change, the teams are asking New Yorkers to look at things in a more positive light -- namely, as a chance to bring a city famous for blocking out the ocean back to dealing with it.
The idea is to "exploit the problem at hand with new opportunities," P.S.1 director Klaus Biesenbach told an audience at an opening presentation on Saturday. "It's an optimistic gesture."
The architects aren't asked to paint sea level rise as a positive thing, but instead to propose ways for the city to make the city more resilient and to make the best out of a bad situation. The teams acknowledge that if predictions of a rise of 2 feet or more over the next several decades prove correct, large chunks of the city that are now populated will have to be permanently abandoned to the ocean. But allowing the sea to once again creep into city space doesn't necessarily have to be all negative, they say. …