The future of Zone A: New York neighborhoods on the frontline of climate change

February 21, 2013

Recorded: January 10, 2013

On January 10, 2013, in the Great Hall of The Cooper Union, the League’s Urban Omnibus organized a panel discussion with experts in urban ecology, design, and community planning to consider the future of Zone A in New York City. Representing the areas of the city at greatest risk to flooding and other environmental forces associated with rising tides and extreme weather, Zone A presents an array of complex challenges that have perhaps never been more critical or relevant to confront. Is it possible, or practical, to deploy ecologically sound design and policy to mitigate adverse climate impacts on waterfront communities? Can “market-based” solutions drive the planning of the city in ways that are ecologically and socially responsible without displacing communities? These kinds of questions lay at the heart of the matter for the panelists, who spoke to issues of community, planning, and design from various perspectives.

After a brief introduction by Kerri Culhane of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, who gave a short history of the neighborhood’s past challenges with flooding and other weather-related incidents, and some opening remarks by Cassim Shepard of Urban Omnibus, who called Two Bridges “uniquely suited” to the kinds of retrofits that would make the landscape more permeable, resilient and connected (which you can read more about on Urban Omnibus, here), the panelists gave brief presentations about their work and ideas for fortifying these vulnerable communities. The podcast presented here offers highlights from these presentations — first from Susannah Drake, followed by Claire Weisz, Alexander Felson, and then Tom Angotti — as well as a substantive conversation with the panelists, and questions and responses from the audience.