Living With Water: Union Beach – Design Studio

The experience of Super Storm Sandy has thrown traditional experiences over board. The beauty of living with a bay view is now overshadowed by significant danger. The next storm will happen, but we do not know when and where. Getting ready for disaster is crucial; however, the quality of our daily live should not be compromised by always preparing for the worst.

This senior studio was intended to support the initiatives of the Borough of Union Beach to develop long-term resilient solutions for the town. Our goal was to find a balance between the needs for protection from future storms, safe and affordable housing structures, appealing streetscapes, high quality open spaces, and wildlife habitat. The students considered the needs of local residents and businesses along with potentials for tourism.

Anticipated Sea Level Rise.
Anticipated Sea Level Rise.

The report produced documents the path he student's took. Opening questions about the site and the issues gave guidance for inventory and analysis. The complexity of design challenges and opportunities was handled through a comprehensive design methodology, called the "Morphological Box". Through several iterations of test designs and explorations in physical models, student groups developed housing an open space concepts.

Edit View of Proposed Resaurant and Existing Three-story Home Behind Seawall.
Edit View of Proposed Resaurant and Existing Three-story Home Behind Seawall.

The class investigated the general options of how to address the threat of storm surges along with seal level rise today.

  • Seawall: What does it mean for a small town on the bay when the bay view disappears behind a wall?
  • Local Retreat: How can housing be reorganized in Union Beach on long term safe dry grounds while maintaining quality of life for the current residents?
  • Raised Homes: What are the consequences for the spaces in between buildings, are that still livable open spaces?
  • Living On Water: What does it mean when we accept rising sea levels as an opportunity?

Raised Houses on Green Space.
Raised Houses on Green Space.

More Information

  1. Project Report (41MB PDF)

Rutgers Principal Investigators

  1. Wolfram Hoefer
  2. David Hanrahan

NJ Legislative District

  1. District 13