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Bight: Coastal Urbanism


Tri-State Area


Research and Planning
Parks and Infrastructure


In January 2017, RPA launched a design competition which called on architects, landscape architects, designers and urban planners to visually demonstrate how policy changes, new investments, and innovative thinking proposed in the Fourth Regional Plan—A Region Transformed can transform different geographic areas in the Tri-State region and prepare them for the next 25 years. Rafi Segal and DLANDstudio were selected to propose visions and designs for the future of the Bight, the region’s Ocean Corridor.

Seabright, Jamaica Bay
Mastic, NJ
Seabright, Jamaica Bay

(Above) Existing conditions along the sea front
The Bight is the notch in the region’s coast where ocean currents conspire to pile sand, forever redrawing the shore. “The Bight” is also an invention — a hard coastline extensively built during the 20th century, now stiff with aging settlements determined (but ill-suited) to stand their ground against storms and sea level rise. These opposing forces, where the immovable city meets an unstoppable nature, define its uncertain future. To relieve this tension, which threatens hundreds of miles of coast, hundreds of thousands of residents, and hundreds of billions of dollars in property losses, we propose replacing the hardened edge separating the city and nature with a new “landscape economic zone” — a buffer in which land and water commingle, creating new spaces for habitation, conservation, work and play.

Rather than futilely trying to hold the line, the project proposes an approach of “receive, protect, adapt.” Strengthen urban spines and nodes on higher ground to receive new residents at higher densities. Protect low-lying areas using the absorptive capacity of the buffer, and adapt to a more amphibious lifestyle in the zone — transforming the coastline into the new urban frontier.

The result is a less sprawling and more productive coast, made all the more resilient by tailoring homes, neighborhoods, suburbs, towns and cities to this new reality. The transition to renewable energy and the future of work-leisure in an era of intense automation inform the reimagined Bight as a new open space for America’s most populous region, rather than an increasingly untenable line in the sand.


Fast Company
The Guardian
Next City

This project is a partnership of Regional Plan Association and the Princeton University School of Architecture. It informed Regional Plan Association’s fourth regional plan, a strategic vision for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region. This project is made possible by the support of The Rockefeller Foundation.

44 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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