Michael Marrella: At the Edge — New York City's Waterfront

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NYC skyline with a waterfront view and sun shining

NYC waterfront. photo / Andy via Unsplash


With 520 miles of waterfront, New York City has the longest and most diverse shoreline of any municipality in the nation, but it also faces some of the greatest planning challenges. Since the city released its first Comprehensive Waterfront Plan nearly 30 years ago, much has been cleaned up and transformed to address critical needs for housing, jobs, and open space. Today, it seeks to build upon this vibrancy while also putting forth new strategies for an equitable, resilient, and healthy waterfront in the face of climate change.


Michael Marrella is one of the pioneers of the modern practice of climate resiliency and waterfront planning through his work at the New York City Planning Department.

In his twenty-five years of planning experience, Marrella has taken on an ever-increasing set of responsibilities to address some of the greatest challenges facing urban areas. His work has focused on waterfront planning, tackling climate change, and protecting and improving the natural environment. For the last 15 years, Marrella has led resiliency, waterfront, and open space planning efforts for the New York City Department of City Planning and advised the Planning Commission Chairs and members of the City Planning Commission. More recently, his work has expanded to confront a broader range of issues on climate and sustainability, including stormwater management, reducing the city's carbon footprint, and increasing the city's biodiversity.

Marrella has also taught and mentored the next generation of planners, teaching at the Pratt Institute and Hunter College and lecturing at dozens of colleges and universities. His work on waterfront planning, sustainability, and resiliency has become a model for other waterfront cities throughout the U.S. and internationally, and his commitment to planning will have an enduring legacy in the continued vitality of New York City and the quality of life for its residents.

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