Enhancement of New York Harbor Estuaries and Ecological Systems

Cooper Union Stock Photo

Strategies for Ecological Restoration of Estuaries

To transform the harbor and estuaries to meet the changing demands of the coming decades and to offer a richer and more ecologically integrated urban environment will require planning approaches that employ various strategies and support interventions at multiple scales.

Navigational dredging policy should be made to concentrate maritime industry and shipping at critical zones. The overall amount of channelization should be reduced to support functioning navigational routes and maintain active berths (with an allowance for expanding maritime activity as a transportation alternative). Channelization and navigational dredging should incorporate environmental cleanup of contaminated waterways and not be maintained simply because it has been the historical prerogative

Ecological enhancement should be incremental and opportunistic, allowing for the testing of ideas and the development of different localized landscapes. Site-specific project developments will allow for the verification of adaptability, efficiency, and performance for each type of proposed ecological system improvements.

The overall direction should be towards creating more articulated edge conditions, more diverse biological zones and improved habitats. Increased ecological complexity and the potential for biological systems to thrive can also provide the benefits of ecological servicing: storm surge protection, natural water filtration, stream flow stabilization and increased recreational, cultural and economic opportunities.

Terraced tidal ats at sea walls, upland ecological restoration and floating wetlands in tidal shallows provide three strategies which propose to incrementally re-introduce fragments of the historic system within the grid of existing infrastructure.


    Projects & Links

    • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

    • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

    • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

    • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.