The Jersey Shore is New Jersey's cultural and economic heart. Yet Hurricane Sandy and climate model predictions of sea level rise tell us an undeniable story—its vitality is at risk. In some of the lowest-lying, flood-prone areas, these risks are great. Businesses would be decimated. Homes would disappear. And the "family shore"—its history, memory, and ritual—would be forever disrupted.
While there has been a lot of study and discussion about how to protect the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy caused so much damage, little of it has focused on how to preserve the shore's culture and economy, with the beach alone bringing in $28 billion a year to the state's economy.
We believe this is a miss. In fact, there are solutions that can preserve the culture and economy, even if nature is relentless in changing the coastline.
First, one of the most iconic elements of the Jersey Shore is the boardwalk. At Asbury Park, a relatively high-and-dry community, we imagined changing the shape of the boardwalk so that it actually helped to create sand dunes over time to serve as a natural barrier and provide new social and ecological spaces.
Second, in places where second homes—97% of which are at risk—or beaches are eroded, there is the potential for other destinations further inland to proactively be developed as vacation communities, along with new ways to access the barrier islands.
And third, making room for future wetlands could offer not only relief for flooding, but also new ecological attractions that can support the local economy.
To illustrate the distinctive characteristics that make the Jersey Shore what it is today, and why the issue of sea change is so important for preserving iconic destinations, we created this field guide to the New Jersey Shore. Its story and map celebrate the diversity and richness of the greater shore landscape, promoting an idea that the key to preservation and resilience of the shore's unique culture and economy is embracing that notion that it's "Deeper than the Beach."
An initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Rebuild by Design is a competition that asks some of the world's most talented design professionals to envision solutions that increase resilience...