hen Hurricane Sandy
whipped across the East
Coast of the United States in
October 2012, it became the
second-costliest hurricane in
U.S. history. Within its path
of destruction lay Rockaway
Beach, a miles-long stretch of
sand that’s been popular with New Yorkers since
the early 1900s. Sandy pummeled its boardwalks
and recreational facilities.
By December 2012, New York City had assessed
the scope of storm damage and committed to
reopening the iconic beach by May 2013, so residents could kick off the summer season as usual.
Under normal circumstances, the US$140 million
project would have taken three and a half years, but
the city’s ambitious deadline meant architecture
firm Sage and Coombe had less than six months.
The project’s scope included designing and constructing three raised platforms, or islands. Each
100,000-square-foot ( 9,300-square-meter) island
needed to provide outdoor showers, shade and
access to concession facilities and needed to be built
at the elevation of the former boardwalks, to allow
access to and from the street and beach.
At times, fast-tracking the project meant favoring
pragmatism. “We had to design within the existing
footprint so we didn’t have to trigger the need for
new environmental approvals,” says Jennifer Sage,
Sage and Coombe’s co-owner. But compressing the
schedule also meant making last-minute adjustments along the way.
Team members initially assumed they would use precast
planking, a concrete, factory-fabricated planking with a
preapproved pattern. Then they
learned it could take up to 12
weeks to fabricate. So the team
decided to cast the concrete
on-site, which allowed site work
to start sooner and avoided a
lengthy fabrication process.
“It allowed the work to keep
going and didn’t require a lot
of specialty subcontracting
either,” Ms. Sage says.
“We had to design within the existing
footprint so we didn’t have to trigger the
need for new environmental approvals.”
—Jennifer Sage, co-owner, Sage and Coombe