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COWI NA helps rebuild New York

Photo: The SCAPE Team

​Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC) are proud to be a part of the SCAPE Team’s “Living Breakwaters” project which was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as one of six winning “Rebuild by Design” projects. 

"Engineering solutions which work in tandem with nature, not against it, have always been an essential element in our project approach," says President of Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC), John Chapman.

On June 2, 2014, the “Living Breakwaters” project developed by the SCAPE Team was one of six winning projects chosen by HUD’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, for the design of resiliency works to protect the New York area against future coastal flooding, caused sea-level rise and extreme events such as Superstorm Sandy which struck the region in 2012. The project was granted $60M for the planning and construction of a necklace of detached breakwaters along the coast of the Tottenville neighbourhood of Staten Island. These breakwaters are designed to dissipate wave energy, reducing shoreline erosion and risk of future flooding while also increasing awareness of risk, reviving acquatic ecology for native fin fish and shellfish, and providing important educational opportunities. 

OCC’s engineers were responsible for the design of the rock breakwaters, including evaluation of design wave conditions and the geotechnical conditions throughout the miles long site. Secondarily, OCC will guide the process for navigating through the regulatory process with State and Federal agencies for in-water construction of the breakwaters. Finally, OCC’s marine fisheries experts have provided valuable advice on best practices for transformational coastal and in-water practices, specifically related to the opportunities for creation of incredible new ecosystems for shellfish and juvenile fin fish in the critical Raritan Bay watershed.

“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, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,  during the announcement of the six winning projects.

Waterfront engineering and consulting continue to play a vital role, as New York focuses on the effort of building a city more resilient to the effects of climate change - one of the biggest and most urgent challenges in New York at the moment. The City’s panel on Climate Change estimates that 800,000 city residents will live in flood-prone areas by 2050 — an increase of one hundred percent from the nearly 400,000  today. 

OCC and SCAPE continue to advance resiliency design in the New York area. In addition to the Rebuild by Design win, both companies are  undertaking a feasibility study to guide the recommended use of offshore breakwaters as an adaptation strategy for the site adjacent to, and south of Great Kills Harbor in Staten Island. Sponsored by the Hudson River Estuary Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, with support from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, in cooperation with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission; the project seeks to provide innovative and implementable options for offshore breakwaters to decrease tidal erosion, identify potential benefits in reducing wave action and shoreline erosion, and provide habitat value for a large range of biota including oysters, mussels, and juvenile finfish. The results of the study will serve to inform the City of New York and the Hudson River Estuary Program partners for use in community planning, shoreline adaptation, and resiliency. ​

Published 11.07.2014

About the team

Living Breakwaters is a collaboration between the SCAPE team, Staten Island community members, residents, government officials, and regulators. The SCAPE team includes SCAPE/Landscape Architecture, Ocean and Coastal Consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Dr Phillip Orton/Stevens Institute of Technology, SeArc Ecological Marine Consulting, The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, LOT-EK, MTWFT, and advisor Paul Greenberg.

About OCC: Part of COWI North America, Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC) is a leading provider of waterfront engineering services to clients worldwide. OCC offers a wide range of green infrastructure and engineered structural for coastal restoration and protection.

LAST UPDATED: 16.09.2016