Small Means and Great Ends

White arkitekter AB, 2013
Area Planning Urban Development Housing Medium Film Type Other

Small Means and Great Ends. A master plan for Arverne East in Queens, New York, in an area that was hit hard by hurricane Sandy in 2012. The ambition is to create a new home for the community of Arverne East; a lively and beautiful environment that interacts, rather than counteracts with the sea and responds to natural forces, similar to how a surfer rides the waves.

To illustrate and communicate the proposal a 2 min film was produced, see link.

The FAR ROC design competition drew submissions from 117 project teams around the world. Our winning proposal aims to transform an 80-acre shoreline site in the Rockaways into a resilient and affordable urban development for the community.

Our vision is to create an urban design for the community of Arverne East that through a series of small, affordable, and smart interventions creates a model which rises beyond resilient, to a level we call antifragile.

The goal is to create an authentic urban development; a new home for the community of Arverne East, a lively and beautiful environment that interacts, rather than counteracts with the sea and responds to natural forces. The community must develop a symbiotic relationship with the environment, similar to how a surfer rides the waves.

The design proposes the implementation of a series of interconnected small scale interventions that together disperse and direct wind and flooding in order to bring down the force of nature and direct it away from the proposed mixed use development.

The development will be set back from the shore of the built area giving space for a nature reserve. This ecological zone dissipates the ocean?s energy during a storm and forms a new landscape with shallower and calmer water that provides opportunities for leisure and education uses near the new boardwalk.

The new boardwalk has a gap on the landside and is elevated where possible to minimize the impact of storm water on the structure. The boardwalk is ?kinked? to disperse storm water.

Two large landscaped parks cut through the area, as boulevards do. The parks function both as storm water detainment and retention and as Public Park. Public recreational functions are gathered on the pier, such as a hotel, theater and sport accommodations.

A new sandbar landscape in the sea is proposed to be organically developed, functioning as a detached breakwater in the sea. The sandbar landscape protects the hinterland during flooding.

Our urban strategy aims to create an inclusive community that will enable all members to flourish. It respects all citizens and provides opportunities for them to engage in decision-making processes that affect their lives directly.

The housing program is inspired by the Scandinavian Model of economic efficiency and welfare state benefits, establishing an appropriate and responsive programme with a healthy mix of housing types supported by commercial and public services and social places.

White Arkitekter?s design proposal Small Means and Great Ends developed in cooperation with Arup and Gensler was announced winner on October 24, 2013, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.



  • Sander Schuur White arkitekter
  • Geoff Denton White arkitekter
  • Sam Keshavarz White arkitekter