Arverne: Master Plan for a Sustainable Community

Rockaway, Queens, New York

Final Project, Urban Landscape Architecture Studio, City College of New York, 2002


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which brought devastating damage to New York’s Rockaway peninsula, much attention has been focused upon rebuilding this linear series of neighborhoods and their highly vulnerable coastal landscape.


The Arverne Master Plan, created by Denisha Williams in 2002, prefigured many of the solutions that would be advanced a decade later to protect and regenerate this isolated community following Sandy’s toll. Integrating ecological, social, and economic approaches to neighborhood revitalization, the study proposes an array of interconnected strategies for restructuring a failing local economy and repairing human relationships to the barrier island ecosystem and to the rest of the city beyond.


Strategies range from macro-level systems to the finest-grained site details, from environmental protection to innovative models for economic development. Where pedestrian and bicycle connections are now absent, new systems reconnect the neighborhood to beach, bay, and city. Innovative housing configurations respond to solar and wind patterns to reduce energy consumption. Porous pavements and native plantings help restore the delicate ecological balance.  Ecotourism, holistic healthcare, and age-integrated eldercare form the foundations of the “new Arverne economy,” weaving an infrastructure for economic renewal and social resilience into the designed environment.