City Planner Adds Anti-Flood System to His House Remodel in Red Hook

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Alexandros Washburn, the head urban designer for the New York City Department of City Planning, renovated his Red Hook row house with some innovations other city dwellers could make use of, including anti-flood devices. He kept the original staircase, but added an open, overhead flight of stairs to the top story that serves as a design element and lets in light from the roof, The New York Times reported in a profile of the house and its owners. The thick kitchen counters are made from joists salvaged during the renovation. Exposed brick and persian carpets, from his mother, who grew up in Istanbul, are strong design elements throughout the house.

“Mr. Washburn bought the three-story house in 2007, for $800,000, and spent another $500,000 renovating it,” said the Times. “Six years later, he is nearly finished, except for the ground floor, which was three feet deep in water during the hurricane.”

Right now, he and his family live on the upper floors, in case of flooding, but he would like to rent out the ground-level retail space. Toward that end, he is working on a system to keep water out of his house and his neighbor’s house during the next flood. If it works, hopes to get the DOB to approve it.

Federal law now mandates that homeowners flood proof buildings by moving everything off the ground, but his device would allow for a more “lively street front,” as he details in his urban design book coming out next month, ““The Nature of Urban Design: A New York Perspective on Resilience.” In the meantime, his front door is now painted with an underwater fish scene that shows how high the water rose during Hurricane Sandy.

Click through to the New York Times story to see photos of the exterior and interior. Do you find this house inspiring? Is there anything here you would use in your own?

On Location: Three Feet High and Rising [NY Times]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

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