Category: Uncategorized

How Can Louisiana Build Back Smarter?

How to design and adapt to threats of “500 Year Storms” that happen all the time?


Louisiana flooding / Los Angeles Times Louisiana flooding / Los Angeles Times

The flooding that hit Louisiana last week affected hundreds of thousands of people over 1,000 square miles. The intense storm claimed 13 lives, and some 30,000 needed to be rescued. Over 60,000 homes have been destroyed, and 100,000 have registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance so far. According to the agency, the Louisiana flooding was a 500-year flood event, meaning there was just a 0.2 percent chance of this happening this year. However, this is the 8th 500-year flood event since May, 2015, which beg the questions: With climate change, are flood risk estimates now completely unreliable? And if super-storms are the new normal, what can communities do to build back smarter and make themselves more resilient to the next unexpected, disruptive event?

Wes Michaels, ASLA, a partner with Spackman, Mossop and Michaels, a Louisiana-based landscape architecture firm, said: “More rain…

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Sure We Can!

Sure We Can,a community-based recycling center and sustainability hub in Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Bushwick neighborhood, is launching the #60MillionCans campaign to secure its future. The support raised through this #60MillionCans campaign will help Sure We Can secure its location and improve its operations.

To take part or learn more, contact Sure We Can at or here:

Sure We Can started as a redemption center working to foster social inclusion of canners, the people who roam the streets of New York collecting discarded bottles and cans, and returning them to recycling centers for the 5cent deposit. Sure We Can creates an atmosphere of trust, respect and participation in the community, supporting the recycling of valuable materials while educating about the importance of recycling, dignifying the work while creating opportunities for the community. At SWC, people from all walks of life are welcome under the principle that everyone has something valuable to contribute.



Updates from Rebuild by Design

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Join Rebuild by Design for a full day of programming to celebrate our collective accomplishments as we look to build resilient communities in the Sandy-affected region and elsewhere, in the years ahead.

20 Cooper Square, NYC

Friday June 3 9:15am-5pm


For any questions about the event contact

9:15AM Registration & Breakfast
9:45AM Opening Remarks
10:15AM – 11:45AM Two Years Later – Updates from Each of the Rebuild by Design Projects

  • Lower Manhattan – Carrie Grassi, NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Jeremy Siegel, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
  • Hunts Point – Julie Stein, NYC Economic Development Corporation and TBD
  • Meadowlands – David Rosenblatt, NJ Department of Environmental Protection and Chris Benosky, AECOM
  • Hoboken – David Rosenblatt, NJ Department of Environmental Protection and Kenneth Spahn, Dewberry
  • Long Island – Kris Van Orsdel, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and Georgeen Theodore, Interboro
  • Staten Island – Alex Zablocki, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and Pippa Brashear, SCAPE/LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
  • Bridgeport – David Kooris, Department of Housing and David Waggonner, Waggonner + Ball 

11:45AM – 12:15PM Discussion with Grantees moderated by Mary Rowe, Senior Fellow, Project for Public Spaces and partner of Rebuild by Design

  • Carrie Grassi, NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency
  • David Rosenblatt, NJ Department of Environmental Protection
  • Kris Van Orsdel, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
  • David Kooris, Department of Housing

12:15PM-1:00PM Lunch
1:15PM – 2:15PM Implementing Resilient Infrastructure: Lessons Learned from Rebuild by Design moderated by Scott Davis, Visiting Fellow at RAND – Panel
What are the challenges governments face when implementing large-scale resilient infrastructure post Hurricane Sandy and how can we encourage innovative, interdisciplinary projects elsewhere?

  • Kris Van Orsdel, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
  • Jessica Grannis, Georgetown Climate Center
  • Dawn Zimmer, Mayor of Hoboken

2:15PM-2:30PM Break
2:30PM-3:45PM Community Engagement Best Practice Sharing – Breakout Discussion
This session will explore community engagement practices and strategies used in the past two years. Select community members will present their experiences and a guided discussion will follow. Community Participants include:

  • Juan Camilo, Hunts Point
  • Victoria Cerullo, Staten Island
  • Carter Craft, Hoboken
  • Danny Peralta, Hunts Point
  • James Rodriguez, Lower East Side
  • Jennifer Vallone, Lower East Side

3:45PM-4:00PM Break
4:00PM-5:00PM Beyond Sandy: Scaling Lessons Learned to Other Regions – Panel
Cities around the world are facing new climate realities and many have looked to the Rebuild experience for inspiration. How can we best capture our ongoing learnings to help other regions? Panelists will discuss what they look to learn from our region as we move from design to implementation.

  • Marion McFadden, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs, HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development
  • Allison Brooks, Executive Director, Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC)
  • Michael Berkowitz, President, 100 Resilient Cities

Reception to follow.
For any questions about the event contact
Rebuild by Design is in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities. Rebuild by Design would like to thank The Rockefeller Foundation and all of our funders for their ongoing support.

Outside Architecture's Profile Photo

Our first group visit to East Harlem

Amazing work – any updates?

Greening The Gap

On September 13th, we visited the East Harlem study area for the first time as a group. We were introduced to the neighborhood’s streets and green spaces by staff of the non-profit organization Trees New York, and met with different members of the community. What follows is a description of our visit and first impressions of the neighborhood.


1. P.S. 96 Tree Garden

Our first stop was P.S. 96 on East 120th Street at Third Ave. Standing in front of the school we admired the work of Trees New York and their volunteers. A once empty and gloomy sidewalk and building façade now flourish with a row of street trees and a mini garden. Standing in the shade of the trees we had the opportunity to learn more about the mission of TreesNY from Cheryl Blaylock, their Director of Youth Programs, and how important public participation is for the…

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As Jane Jacobs so eloquently described it in The Death and Life of American Cities, much of the essence of urban living is reflected in the “sidewalk ballet” of people going about their daily errands, wandering along the margins of public spaces (streets, sidewalks, parks and squares) and in and out of quasi-private spaces (stores, salons, bars, boutiques, bars and restaurants).

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Clusters of these quasi-private spaces, which are usually neighborhood businesses, activate a streetscape, both drawing life from and adding to a steady flow of people outside.

In an effort to begin to quantify this key aspect of neighborhood vitality, we’ve developed a new statistical indicator—the Storefront Index (click to see the full report)—that measures the number and concentration of customer-facing businesses in the nation’s large metropolitan areas.


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Party for Public Space and Places

We know placemaking isn’t a “new” term. But nothing prepared us for this…

An archaeological team recently uncovered a lost city within a site believed to be over 600 years old, revealing structural foundations from public places like plazas and squares, and evidence of a very social civilization.  Dug up alongside decorative bowls and animal remains, several large cryptic stone etchings were also found.  After extensive study, experts believe that the markings on these petroglyphs read “Start with the petunias.”

h/t  Project for Public Spaces


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Affordable Housing, Berlin style



Berlin has become the first city in Germany in which effective legislation has come into force in a bid to put the breaks on some of the fastest rising rents in Europe.  From Monday, landlords in the capital will be barred from increasing rents by more than 10% above the local average. Such controls were already in place for existing tenants but have now been extended to new contracts.

“The rent ceiling is very important for Berlin because the difference between the rent paid in existing contracts and new contracts is so high,” said Reiner Wild, managing director of the Berlin Tenants’ Association. “The other problem is that we have 40,000 more inhabitants per year. Because of this situation the housing market is very strong.”

Berlin is pioneering the rent cap after the national parliament approved the law, aimed at areas with housing shortages, in March…


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Land Banks – a How To…

Land Banks and Land Banking Cover(1)
Land banking is one of many tools that can be used to
address vacant and abandoned properties. As its title suggests,
this publication is focused squarely on land banks. But it
also highlights the many important links between this tool
and other systems that govern the use and reuse of land,
including, perhaps most critically, property tax enforcement.
In addition, it explores in what context a land bank is likely
to be most impactful and when a community might be
better served looking to other tools, entities, or strategies.
Indeed, one of the most valuable lessons contained in this
edition is the recognition that each community’s challenge
is a little different and that the first step in any community’s
fight against vacancy and blight must be to understand and
diagnose the problem. Only then will it become clear which
tools or strategies, including land banking, need to be part of
the solution.
Communities that are considering the creation of a land bank
and communities that are looking to improve the operations
of an existing land bank would both do well to spend time
studying these pages:

The “Forgotten” Father of Greater New York: Andrew Haswell Green

MCNY Blog: New York Stories

November 13, 1903. An 83 year old man leaves his office at 214 Broadway and gets on the Fourth Avenue street car by City Hall to join his nieces for lunch at his home. At 38th Street and Park Avenue, he disembarks the car and walks toward his house at 91 Park Avenue, a mere three houses away from the station. At his front gate, a man rushes at him, accusing the older man of turning a woman’s affection against him. (For a highly dramatic take on the confrontation read the opening of this Daily News article.) A passer-by hears the older man shout, “Who are you anyway? I don’t know you! Get away from me!” Five shots are fired, and the older man falls dead, right inside of the gate to his property. The shooter stands over the body with his revolver, his shoulders heaving, but his feet rooted…

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