Rebuilding after Sandy: Staten Island House

3400 sq. ft., 2-Family Residence 

Following Hurricane Sandy, the City of New York began an initiative to promote rebuilding in FEMA flood zones.  Ensuing revisions to the New York City Zoning Resolution and Building Code are intended to reduce vulnerability to future floods and help lower flood insurance premiums though flood-resilient construction regulations.


1st Floor

2nd Floor

3rd Floor

The design of this 2-family residence, located in a flood zone on Staten Island, NY, was volunteered by AB Architekten for a native Staten Islander who lost his home during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Programmatically the house caters to his specific living requirements: He will occupy the upper duplex unit, while close relatives occupy the lower, smaller unit. The 2 units function autonomously with separate entrances or, combined with the 1st floor, as a 4-story townhouse.


South elevation

West elevation

The house’s geometry consists of a basic rectangular volume with a minimally expressed gable roof whose pitch and height follow exactly the maximum allowable sky exposure plane. Flood zone regulations require that habitable spaces and mechanical rooms in the house be located above the “Design Flood Elevation”. This results in a building height which is approximately 10 feet higher than that of neighboring houses built conventionally before flood zone regulations went into effect. In order to reduce the negative impact of the unoccupied base on the local streetscape, “mitigating elements”, including a raised front yard and planted areas, are provided at the street level. The 1st floor of the house effectively functions as a cellar and contains garage and storage spaces. As per flood zoning regulations, it does not count as allowable floor area. Building code for the flood zone calls for the use of water resistant construction materials and the implementation of water pressure reducing strategies at grade level. The surface of the house’s occupiable volume, including the roof plane, is clad in fibercement board panels. The same panels, but perforated, are employed as operable shading devices on the south-facing street elevation. A cantilevered steel stair serves as primary access to both dwelling units and as a counterpoint to the building’s basic volume. It also provides an escape route in the event of a catastrophic flood. A cut-out at the house’s roof plane serves as terrace and affords views toward Lower Manhattan to the north and Downtown Brooklyn to the east.



Structural Engineering:

H2 Consulting PEPC


MEP Engineering:

Edwards and Zuck, DPC


AB Architekten

Alexander Blakely

Catherine Meng

Filip Szafranski

Marcin Baranski