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Retrofitting urban buildings for flood risk

November 20, 2014 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Retrofitting urban buildings for flood risk is one of New York City’s most complex planning challenges. Like other American coastal cities – but to an even greater degree given its size, density, and 520 miles of shoreline – NYC’s waterfront neighborhoods face significant challenges in adapting to increased coastal flood risks. There are nearly 71,500 buildings, 532 million square feet of interior space, and 400,000 residents located within the city’s 1% annual chance floodplain, as defined in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 2013 Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (PFIRMs). While over time, new construction will replace some older buildings, wholesale replacement of the existing building stock would take decades and would be prohibitively expensive and highly disruptive. In addition, Congressional changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), enacted in 2012 and 2014, now require owners to pay higher flood insurance premiums for buildings that predate the flood maps, putting financial stress on many homeowners and property owners who cannot easily retrofit their buildings to meet NFIP standards.

With this context in mind, the panel discussion will seek to address questions such as the following: What can building owners do to protect their buildings? What are the benefits and limitations of existing federal guidelines and regulations for urban buildings? What regulatory changes are needed to support practical and cost-effective methods of mitigation? This event panel is presented in conjunction with the related Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk report by NYC Department of City Planning, released October 8th, 2014.

David Giambusso, Reporter, Capital New York

Cecilia Kushner, AICP, Deputy Director for Climate Resilience, Strategic Planning, NYC Department of City Planning
Jesse Levin, RA, Architect and Project Manager of Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk, Urban Design, NYC Department of City Planning
Michael Marrella, AICP, Director, Waterfront and Open Space, NYC Department of City Planning

Margaret Becker, Director, Disaster Recovery and Community Development, Legal Services NYC
Katherine Greig, Senior Policy Advisor, NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency
Kayed Lakhia, Deputy Director, Mitigation and Risk Reduction, FEMA
Cecilia Kushner, AICP, Deputy Director for Climate Resilience, Strategic Planning, NYC Department of City Planning


Image posted: Daniel Schwen,


November 20, 2014
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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NYC Department of Planning


AIANY Housing Committee
536 LaGuardia Place
New York City, NY 10012 United States
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