Terreform ONE, the Brooklyn-based non-profit co-founded by architect and Gallatin professor Mitchell Joachim, won first place in Urban Design from the 2015 International Architecture Awards for the project “Governors Hook: Resilient Water Infrastructure.”
“This project started with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, essentially an urban junk space, that has lain fallow since the Second World War,” said Joachim. “We began by looking at ghost fleets and came to the idea of gently sinking hulls of boats to avoid flooding and to control water management. That level of detail and culpability turned the project from fantasy into something more concrete.”
Ten years in the making, the project envisions the creation of buffer zones that would also, over time, restore a physical link between the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook and Governor’s Island. Begun well before Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, the work anticipated many of the issues that were raised by Sandy, including how best to buffet New York City’s coastline from major weather events and how to manage rising sea levels. Focusing on storm water retention and incorporating readily accessible materials, including the hulls of former military vessels from Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, “Governors Hook: Resilient Water Infrastructure” uses a counterintuitive premise as the basis of the design: instead of working to keep the water out, built area is instead designed to allow the water to come in.
The innovative project embodies one of Terreform ONE’s larger design goals: to reimagine urban spaces as integrated, ecologically vibrant communities. In 2014, the non-profit was an official selection of the Venice Architecture Biennale.