Competition 2018: Nominated in the category Student

Razing NYC: Buyouts and Demolition in the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Columbia University, 2018
Area Planning Urban Development Housing Medium Information Visualization Type Student

Hurricane Sandy devastated the Staten Island neighborhood of Oakwood Beach, where 43 people lost their lives. What were recovery plans available to the town? Did it have a history of flooding? Who lived there? Has the town recovered, or been transformed in some fundamental way? Which lots were most affected? And what differences were there in the impact on different lots by factors such as location and assessed value?

This project delves into these questions as it explores the story of Oakwood, a neighborhood plagued with flooding and planning problems for decades. For the survivors of Sandy, it is a success story where the state finally stepped in with a buyout and wetlands reseeding plan that the majority of residents were thrilled to receive, though it left some steadfast owners isolated in a transformed landscape. This website reveals when and which homes were demolished, and offers many interactive features that reveal hidden patterns in Oakwood's profound transformation.

This project seeks to make visible the overlapping government buyout programs concentrated in the Staten Island neighborhood of Oakwood Beach in the years after Hurricane Sandy. The ownership of each lot within the neighborhood (represented as a horizontal bar in the visualization), as well as lots status as vacant, is depicted. This visualization was designed to highlight the isolated homes still existing amongst the newly vacant lots that comprise most of the neighborhood.



  • Lin, Ruoran Columbia University
  • Pietraszkiewicz, Eric Columbia University
  • Setton, Dolly Columbia University
  • López Zamora, Ángel Columbia University
  • Juan Francisco Saldarriaga Columbia University

Project Partner

Angel Felix Lopez, Columbia University Dolly R Setton, Columbia University Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, Columbia University