Chris Gorman, AICP, is a project manager with Urban’s New York City office. He is in his fourth year supporting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s engineering department with the redevelopment of JFK Airport. Prior to working at Urban, Chris was the director of New York City’s Community Reconstruction Program, a program of the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, which was created to coordinate recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy.
As the country continues to face severe weather events as a result of climate change, it will be important to protect our waterfront infrastructure from its devastating effects. We asked Chris about his experience working on waterfront resiliency, why it needs to be addressed, and what Urban is doing to address risk at the water’s edge:
A: Hurricane Sandy was my first experience working in a post-disaster setting, where I saw firsthand the loss people in New York City communities faced. It was heartbreaking to hear about loss, but also inspiring to hear how communities were determined to build back better than before.
A: My role was twofold. First, I helped lead a public planning process in Sandy-impacted communities. The goal of the process was to assist those communities to create projects which would mitigate future storm risks. Second, we took those project ideas and made them a reality, from conceptual design to construction.
A: The biggest lesson learned for me was the degree of impact to low-income areas of the city. That is not to say more affluent areas of New York were not impacted. They were. But the lowest lying areas often are inhabited by the most vulnerable, and the magnitude of Sandy’s destruction in poor communities confirmed that.
A: We have faced multiple storms in the 10 years since Sandy. As climate change continues to influence environmental events, the problem is getting worse. Engineers, architects, planners, government – we all must work together to come up with new solutions. Solutions that change our current way of thinking, and solutions that consider the storm impacts not only years from now, but many decades.
A: Urban has a long history of working along waterfronts and supporting resilience. For example, New Jersey’s coastal community in Sea Isle City faced flooding along JFK Boulevard — the city’s central corridor – and Urban was able to raise the profile of the roadway as a solution. At Larder’s Point in Philadelphia, Urban assisted in turning a blighted industrial site into flourishing marshland. And after Sandy, Urban provided program management and project management services for the PATH train lines. We certainly hope to continue our work in resiliency, assisting clients in communities to overcome the challenges they face along the waterfront.
Connect with Chris Gorman by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org