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See the 10-Mile 'Dryline' That Could Protect NYC's Waterfront

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In the city of the High Line and the Lowline, it's only natural that a plan for a 10-mile, flood-preventing waterfront park could be called the Dryline. The term is what architect Bjarke Ingels has rebranded his "Big U" proposal, which he tells the Guardian is like "the love-child of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs." Ingels's proposal was the big winner of Rebuild By Design contest, and the process to move this plan from rendering to reality is underway. The video above, created by London studio Squint Opera, shows how the winding landscape would wrap the coastline of lower Manhattan, turning the waterfront into one continuous green space that would protect the city from future Hurricane Sandys with earthen berms and retractable walls.

Oliver Wainwright of the Guardian writes:

"We like to think of it as the love-child of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs," says Ingels. It is a project that is at once tyrannical and touchy-feely, as if the bullish highway builder and the people's urban activist had sat down to draw up a plan over tea: an uncompromising seawall that also wants to give you a hug. "I think they would have agreed on a lot of things if only they had worked together," Ingels adds cheerfully. "Our project must have Moses' scale of ambition, but be able to work at the fine-grain scale of the neighbourhoods. It shouldn't be about the city turning its back on the water, but embracing it and encouraging access. By taking it one conversation at a time, with the principle that everyone can get their fantasy realised, you end up getting there."

The $335 million that the proposal won through the design contest will go toward building the project's first phase, a two-mile long berm along the Lower East Side. According to the Guardian, the undulating ribbon of land will rise 15 feet and be a landing point for pedestrian bridges that cross the FDR. Open landscaped bridges will replace the current bridges, which the Guardian describes as "narrow and intimidatingly caged," and bring people to the park at the peak of the berm. In other areas, there will be fishing access, possibly "wild swimming pools" (↑), and sports fields.

Near Battery Park (↑), the berm would form "a series of grassy knolls that slope down to a potential new multi-fingered waterfront building, like a blocky claw extended to baffle the tides. It is imagined – with a dash of implacable BIG optimism – as a new Maritime Museum, featuring a spectacular 'reverse aquarium' from where visitors might observe the rising waters beneath dangling whale skeletons."

But is the Dryline too ambitious to ever become a reality? The wheels may already be in motion to create it, but some experts think New York should proceed with caution. Klaus Jacob, a respected climate scientist at Columbia University, told the Guardian.

"The city should be proud of the project. Except it has a fixed height. As the sea level rises, you need ever smaller storms to overcome it. It's exactly New Orleans' problem during Katrina. People think, 'We have this Big U, we're safe.' But you're building up risk behind the U until it becomes dysfunctional. [...] "I'm not saying it will leak during the first 10 years, but the sea-level rise calculated is out to the 2050s. What about the 2080s? 2100? You just postpone the problem for future generations."

· Bjarke Ingels on the New York Dryline: 'We think of it as the love-child of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs' [Guardian]
· These Winning Proposals Will Avert Damage From Sandy 2.0 [Curbed]
· All Big U coverage [Curbed]