Rising Currents Exhibit Opens at MoMA

The "Rising Currents" exhibit opened yesterday and runs through October 11, 2010. Map of "Rising Currents" project zones. (Image courtesy of MoMA).

As we’ve mentioned here before, we’ve been following the Rising Currents  project at MoMA and PS1 with great interest. Rising Currents is a program of MoMA and PS 1 that brings together 5 interdisciplinary teams to creatively tackle the challenge of climate change along the coastlines of New York Harbor. The teams have re-imagined the region’s coastline with “soft” infrastructure that works with, rather than against,the natural ecology of the harbor. Carter Craft, a waterfront planner, has written an interesting guide to the teams’ work. 

Over the next 100 years, climate change is expected to bring rising sea levels, along with intensified storms. While no one is projecting permanent inundation for New York City,  these forces are expected to cause more severe and more frequent flooding. As we plan a new park and new public open spaces  for Governors Island with West 8, we are taking climate change into consideration. Flooding and storm surges pose a particular threat to trees and plants, because brackish (salty) harbor floodwaters have the potential to kill even the sturdiest of trees and other plants. One of the ways West 8’s design will address this danger is by making both subtle and dramatic changes in the topography of the parkland that lies in the projected 100-year flood in 2100, as identified by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC).  This ensures that the root levels of the Island’s new trees will sit above the flood zone. Another strategy for other parts of the open space, is to select plants that will thrive on our increasingly brackish groundwater.

By using a mix of active and adaptive strategies, West 8 will ensure that trees survive to become the best specimens they can be and the park can be enjoyed by generations of visitors. This approach – creating new infrastructure and forms where necessary and appropriate, while working with nature in others — also underlies many of the teams’ proposed solutions. Some of the ideas may seem fanciful, but the strategies underlying them, as West 8’s approach shows, can be a useful way to ensure resilience in the face of a changing climate.

New York Magazine Previews MoMA’s Rising Currents Exhibition

One of the team's ideas to combat the effects of climate change on Lower Manhattan by creating new wetlands to absorb rising surf (Rendering courtesy of ARO and dlandstudio/MoMA from nymag.com)

In this week’s New York  magazine, Justin Davidson looks at five architecture teams’ proposals for soft-edge interventions that could combat the effects of  rising sea levels in NYC’s future. The concepts will be displayed in the Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1’s “Rising Currents” exhibition, which opens on March 24.  One of the sites that the teams are contemplating includes Governors Island. You can click here to see a slideshow of the teams’ ideas.

Last month, Leslie was a guest blogger on the MOMA/P.S.1 blog, Inside/Out,  and shared her perspective what the five zones look like from Governors Island. Take a virtual walk around Governors Island with her and learn more about each teams’ proposed plans.

Guest Blogging at MoMA/PS1 Rising Currents

Leslie Koch, President of GIPEC and contributor to this blog, is a guest blogger today on the MoMA/PS1  blog for Rising Currents, which is an architects-in-residence program that has brought together five interdisciplinary teams to creatively reimagine the coastlines around New York Harbor in light of climate change and rising sea levels. In her post, Leslie reflects on Governors Island’s unique perspective on the team’s project sites and the harbor as a whole. Read more about this fascinating project here.

Rising Currents and Oyster-tecture

Oyster midden on Governors Island

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has commissioned five teams to propose harbor infrastructure solutions to help make New York City more resilient to the effects of rising sea levels and climate change. This project is part workshop, part upcoming exhibit, and it’s called “Rising Currents.”  From our vantage point in the middle of New York Harbor, we’ve been following their progress with great interest.  

One of the teams led by SCAPE Studio and Kate Orff, is exploring “Oyster-tecture” – using oyster reefs to grow an ecosytem while attenuating waves from storm and flooding events. In fact, the New York Harbor School is already piloting an oyster restoration project here on Governors Island.  The underwater oyster incubator has the endearing name of FLUPSY (flowing upweller system).  It houses thousands of baby oysters in protective structures until they are big enough to go out into the harbor on their own.  For a fascinating peek inside the FLUPSY, check out the short video below featuring Pete Malinowski of the New York Harbor School. MoMA’s blog, Inside/Out ,will also fill you in on the progress of each team. Better yet, you can go see the teams yourself at an Open House this Saturday, January 9, 2010 from 2PM – 6PM at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.  You may never think about the harbor the same way again.


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