Rockaway Residential Complex


Type New Building

Location Queens, NY

Size 500,000 sq. ft.

Completion In progress

Developed in response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, the Rockaway Residential complex introduces a vibrant community asset that will guide the neighborhood’s future, with socially-conscious, sustainable design incorporated at all scales. The overarching concept hinges on the public realm and creates an accessible urban oasis, with lush, open space serving as a unifying element for the new buildings and their tenants. Green roofs, terraces, and landscaping maximize water retention and prioritize coastal resiliency in the face of future storms.

Engaged as Design Architect and Architect of Record, Marin Architects was responsible for the project’s rezoning application. The team worked closely alongside the Department of City Planning to have the project permitted as a large scale general development (LSGD), the first of its kind in the area. The four buildings will total 540 square feet and comprise over 600 units, addressing a critical housing shortage in the area. As a pioneer in the neighborhood, Marin’s design ensures a smooth transition between the existing site and the rezone site. The scheme begins with two lower buildings at the north end and gradually reaches its highest point at the south end, with the two focal buildings standing eleven stories high. Marin Architects implemented a townhouse style of architecture throughout to effectively relate to the scale and style of the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, a “fractured massing” technique visually portions the large structures for the human eye through interlocking architectural elements such as oriel windows and terraces that create voids and projections, breaking down the rigidity of the façade.

A primary driver of the design was safeguarding the future of the new residential buildings against weather events and flooding, utilizing lessons learned from the 2012 devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the Rockaway Peninsula. New regulations set by the Department of City Planning require all developments to be set one foot above the floodplain and incorporate adequate stormwater management. Marin Architects exceeded this requirement, elevating the platform three feet above the floodplain and dry proofing the entire site. Additionally, dry basements in each building ensure that essential utilities remain functional in the event of a future crisis. The team prioritized sustainability and water absorption throughout each step of the design. This included bioswales, rainbeds, green roofs, and native plants to maximize on-site water retention. Balconies overlooking the street are built with grated floors to ensure that rainwater reaches the planters beneath. The development’s green roofs can also be utilized for farming and recreation and to further cap the scale of the buildings for the human eye.

Acknowledging an increased desire for healthy outdoor space in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marin Architects designed the residential buildings to be inset as much as twenty feet from the property line, allowing for a flourishing green zone that mitigates the height of the street wall. Thoughtfully landscaped entrances offset the inconvenience of the elevated walk-ups. Ground floor apartments connect to the street via beautifully designed staircases that invite residents to the platform and contribute to the townhouse style. Continuing to draw on an ethos of openness, accessibility, and connectivity, the design team created a central plaza ten feet above the sidewalk level, providing a gathering space for the community beneath a canopy that serves as an additional green roof. The interior plaza is protected from traffic and surrounding noise to create a tranquil pedestrian corridor, reminiscent of Manhattan’s iconic Highline. Further addressing the unique challenges of a site situated next to the water but lacking water frontage, the buildings are located towards the marina. To further maximize the view, the design team implemented strategic terraces that protrude beyond the site’s usable property, providing stunning waterfront views for pedestrians. The final development will also include a dog run, a non-motorized kayak launch, and easy access to a proposed park in an adjacent lot.

The team prioritized economic sustainability alongside environmental resiliency. A central supermarket anchors brick and glass-fronted retail spaces, accessible via thoughtfully concealed, yet easily identifiable, handicap ramps. The development is close to the A subway line and will also incorporate approximately 200 parking spaces.

Construction will begin in 2023.