Rebuild by Design’s Enduring Legacy

Architect Magazine: The most moving architectural renderings I’ve seen lately show the New Jersey Meadowlands, not far from where I grew up, as beautifully restored natural wetlands. The Hackensack River, still crisscrossed by 20th-century artifacts like the soaring elevated stretches of the New Jersey Turnpike, is unexpectedly full of swimmers; the improbably bucolic scene is ringed with dense, well-thought-out urban neighborhoods. It looks nothing like the Meadowlands I once knew, famous in my childhood for its smoldering landfills and toxic waste dumps. Nor does it resemble the Meadowlands of today, dominated by a cluster of sports arenas surrounded by infinite acres of asphalt and accompanied by a hideous, unfinished shopping and entertainment center (with an indoor ski slope and water park) that was supposed to be called Xanadu, but has more recently been renamed American Dream Meadowlands.

The renderings in question were part of a proposal drawn up by a team of designers—led by MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism and Dutch firms ZUS and De Urbanisten—for Rebuild by Design, a New York–area resilience competition launched in 2013, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The New Meadowlands Project, as the proposal was called, was one of seven competition winners. Continue reading...