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5 design innovations sparked by Hurricane Sandy

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Since Hurricane Sandy happened a year ago, the architecture world has been on the lookout for ways design can help prevent such significant damage from future storms. Several structures have already been built, and a few competitions have produced other ideas, though there's no guarantee that those ideas will be built. Here, we've rounded up five Sandy-inspired designs.

Beach lifeguard stations are particularly in need of storm-ready architecture, and Garrison Architects took on the tough job this year of designing 50 new beach structures by Memorial Day weekend. The firm came up with several net-zero energy modular structures.

How can we create a better-protected Red Hook? HR&A Advisors and Cooper, Robertson & Partners teamed up for the city's Rebuild By Design competition to attempt to answer that question. One proposed solution: build floodable ground-floor retail space that's can be quickly emptied or relocated, so that it's easier for businesses to rebuild. (Click through for the full proposal.)

The New York Restoration Project cut the ribbon in September on the Gil Hodges Community Garden, located in a 3,000-square-foot lot at Carroll Street and Denton Place in Gowanus. The lot floods frequently (thanks, Gowanus Canal), and the NYRP was inspired to redesign it partly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Features that provide flood protection include bioswale in the sidewalk, a rain garden, and porous pavers. The goal is to filter and reuse 150,000 gallons of stormwater per year.

The more than 80 acres on the Rockaway Peninsula that make up the Arverne East site were never developed, despite their designation for development seven years ago. Since the area was affected by Hurricane Sandy, the developers, who are finally moving forward with the site, saw an opportunity to bring some fresh architectural ideas into the mix. They held a competition for a mixed-use, mixed-income, sustainable, and storm-resilient design. The winning design, from Stockholm, Sweden-based firm White Arkitekter, is a proposal called "Small Means & Great Ends" that's meant to reduce future storm damage, allow access in the event of another major storm, and help the neighborhood recover more quickly.

The Resilient House was the New York winner of the American Institute of Architects' Designing Recovery contest. Canadian architecture firm Sustainable.TO designed the building with those affected by Hurricane Sandy in mind, though there's no guarantee that the house will actually get built in NYC. The design calls for a split roof, which allows for more windows; few internal partitions; and high energy efficiency.

Of course, there's also the argument—which John Cary makes to Co.Design—that competitions don't really "address or engage with the real needs on the ground or the kind of readiness that we need to have." At least as important, Cary and other architects argue, are "small-scale solutions and legislative guidelines," as well as landscape changes that address immediate problems. And there are several such projects in the works or recently opened, including Hunter's Point South Park and West 8's makeover of Governors Island.