Rockaway boardwalk reconstruction project wins national planning achievement award

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The Rockaway Boardwalk’s Reconstruction Project has received a national planning achievement award.

Obliterated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the 5-1/2 mile length of boardwalk was reopened just in time for Memorial Day weekend last year after the $341 million project was finished on time and under budget by $120 million, money that will now be spent on additional resilience projects on the Rockaway peninsula.

The project received the Silver 2018 National Planning Achievement Award for Urban Design from the American Planning Association recognizing the redesign and reconstruction of the iconic tourist attraction into a more resilient structure that now protects the waterfront communities with a multi-layered system of coastal defense that will resist future weather events.

“We are delighted to be honored by the APA for this unique and innovative infrastructure, which brings back an identifiable and important landmark to the Rockaways.” WXY Founding Principal Claire Weisz said. “We feel it is a model of how a multi-disciplinary planning approach and integrated design and engineering strategies are essential to create resilient, vibrant memorable communities.”

The city Parks Department commissioned the design team to reimagine the structure into a more resilient version that could withstand future storms. From the pile foundations to the walking surfaces, the entire boardwalk was rebuilt with reinforced concrete and raised to three feet above the new base flood elevation recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The boardwalk is situated on a newly planted sand dune that stabilizes and replenishes new beach infill and is supplemented by 4 1/2 miles of sand retaining walls and sand fences along the route. Blue concrete planks spell out Rockway on the boardwalk, which air travelers can see aboard inbound flights to JFK International Airport. With a walking surface three to five feet higher than the previous boardwalk, ramps were installed at access points from the street and beach sides and the entire peninsula was redeveloped with parks, playgrounds, skate parks and performance spaces — all with extensive community input in the planning process.

“The community took the opportunity to transform storm damage into another avenue of connecting neighborhoods to the waterfront,” APA 218 Awards Jury Chairman W. Shedrick Coleman said. “The thoughtful approach addressed both sides of the walkway, the waterfront and the street view, ensuring the more resilient walkway was an asset for visitors and residents alike.”

The APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, will be held in New Orleans April 23.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Peter Rutledge from Bayside says:
This award is well deserved, saw it last summer and it is impressive, thanks for interesting article, I learned quite a few things.
April 17, 6:51 am

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