Architecture

Conceptual towers stand high above Manhattan's flood line

Conceptual towers stand high a...
The proposed Pier 40 development would comprise 19 timber towers, designed to remain in use even when sea levels rise
The proposed Pier 40 development would comprise 19 timber towers, designed to remain in use even when sea levels rise
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DFA's development would comprise 19 towers placed atop the existing piles of the dilapidated Pier 40 in Hudson Yards, Manhattan
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DFA's development would comprise 19 towers placed atop the existing piles of the dilapidated Pier 40 in Hudson Yards, Manhattan
The firm carried out a study using an algorithm to work out which of the pier's structural piles would be suitable to support the towers
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The firm carried out a study using an algorithm to work out which of the pier's structural piles would be suitable to support the towers
The design of the towers takes into account expected future rises in sea levels
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The design of the towers takes into account expected future rises in sea levels
"New York City’s sea level is expected to rise 11-30 inches by 2050 and between 50 to 75 inches by 2100, with the majority of current buildings not designed to accommodate such inevitable changes," says the firm
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"New York City’s sea level is expected to rise 11-30 inches by 2050 and between 50 to 75 inches by 2100, with the majority of current buildings not designed to accommodate such inevitable changes," says the firm
"DFA’s vision for Pier 40, a 15-acre structure in the Hudson River that is greatly in need of repairs, takes a longer-term view with comprehensive design approach for the future."
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"DFA’s vision for Pier 40, a 15-acre structure in the Hudson River that is greatly in need of repairs, takes a longer-term view with comprehensive design approach for the future."
The towers would range in height between 96 ft (29 m) to 455 ft (138 m)-tall 
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The towers would range in height between 96 ft (29 m) to 455 ft (138 m)-tall 
The proposed Pier 40 development would comprise 19 timber towers, designed to remain in use even when sea levels rise
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The proposed Pier 40 development would comprise 19 timber towers, designed to remain in use even when sea levels rise

If sea levels keep rising over the coming decades, where does that leave buildings located in coastal cities like New York City? This is a question addressed by NYC-based firm DFA with its conceptual design for a cluster of flood-resistant residential high-rises in Manhattan.

DFA's development would comprise 19 towers situated on Manhattan's existing Pier 40. The firm used an algorithm to calculate which of the pier's structural piles would be suitable to support the towers and this data informed their layout.

Working from the assumption that future rises in sea levels will inevitably flood the area, the idea is that the towers would still remain accessible. The lobbies of the towers would be used until the waters rose too high, then residents would make use of observation terraces located above the lobbies to enter the towers. An undulating deck would ensure easy access and the landscaping would also take flooding into account.

Existing elevator shafts would still be used after flooding. We'd hope that the project would take structural issues into consideration, such as protecting the towers against salt water, though the proposal makes no mention of such things.

"New York City's sea level is expected to rise 11-30 inches by 2050 and between 50 to 75 inches by 2100, with the majority of current buildings not designed to accommodate such inevitable changes," says the firm (those figures seem to derive from government studies [1] [2]). "DFA's vision for Pier 40, a 15-acre structure in the Hudson River that is greatly in need of repairs, takes a longer-term view with comprehensive design approach for the future."

"DFA’s vision for Pier 40, a 15-acre structure in the Hudson River that is greatly in need of repairs, takes a longer-term view with comprehensive design approach for the future."
"DFA’s vision for Pier 40, a 15-acre structure in the Hudson River that is greatly in need of repairs, takes a longer-term view with comprehensive design approach for the future."

The towers would range in height between 96 ft (29 m) to 455 ft (138 m)-tall and consist of a glulam (glue laminated timber) structure, with a glazed facade and green roof, as well as small pockets of greenery in terraces. They would feature a range of suites, with the focus on affordable housing, but also including luxury housing.

Elsewhere would be a soccer field, boathouse and other facilities, while floating pods would act as wave breaks to protect the development during storms.

While the project is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, it's an interesting idea and, assuming sea levels do indeed rise as expected, architects will likely have to begin addressing such issues more widely in the future.

Source: DFA

4 comments
ljaques
I love this. If the water =were= ever to rise that much, the coastlines would have been long abandoned, and a new city selected to house and transact all the business. What a big choice there, though, determining whether to build the bottom floor at the second or third story level. I love AGWK! Oh, the glulam is great, too. It provides for an ongoing maintenance program (lotsa sweaty, hands-on, blue-collar jobs) and good future for replacement architects who think more about building longevity. Breathe deeply, exhale carbonfully. (Anthropomorphic Globular Warming, Kumbaya)
Rumata
Sea level rise is only 3,4mm/year, or 0,34m/century. There is no reason to build such monster buildigns for that. Even if sea level would go several meters higher, NYC people could learn from the Dutch to keep it offshore. If the Dutch could do it, NYC can do it, too.
Bruce H. Anderson
Ooooh, ocean condos. Like the South Pacific or the Caribbean, but with lousy weather and stinky water.
Observer101
I don't think that many people alive today will ever have to worry about the rise in water to a point that the lobby is flooded... That will take centuries. AND, how many of these buildings will still be standing a hundred years from now?