Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Suzanne Mathew

Second Advisor

Theodore Hoerr


How will inundation change the design of city coastlines? This thesis is an investigation into strategies to mitigate urban flooding from storm surge in Coney Island NY.

In Phase 1, dynamic phenomena are identified and deconstructed, the result are properties that can be assembled to make a machine that applies forces to wet plaster, which solidified to yield insights into the sectional forms of waves. This process was used to inform a conceptual model documenting the site’s physical form, and the relative differences between land and water in terms of its density and porosity.

In Phase 2, a catalog of different coastal edges are pulled together from locally observable types of coastal edges, as well as more contemporary solutions. The outcome is an understanding of coastal engineering as ranging from hard seawalls to softer solutions involving lots of vegetation. The most contemporary solutions all begin to intentionally influence the deposition and erosion of coastal sediment in order to renourish the shoreline. These approaches are used to inform the direction of future research.

In Phase 3, this range of analyses are synthesized to form new hybridized coastal edges. This method has yielded new insights into coastal urban landscapes, specifically in order to address the crisis in New York City’s waterfront.

Coney Island was selected because it is one of the most vulnerable parts of Brooklyn - following the wake of Hurricane Sandy this neighborhood has barely been rebuilt.

As it has turned out, retrofitting hundreds of thousands of old bungalows with modern HVAC units, insulation and sprinklers - and then lifting them 10-12 feet off their foundations onto stilts, while certainly technically feasible, is not possible by Mayor De Blasio’s 2016 deadline for the rebuilding assistance program.

“In this sense, the very words “Build It Back” miss the point — unless by “back” you mean back, way back, from the water’s edge.” -

While it is technically possible to rebuild thousands of residences here, it is not a sound idea for pragmatic reasons.



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