Matthew LaBrake

Matthew LaBrake

Sag Harbor, NY, US


Storm Proof - One Prize - 2013 Annual Design / Science Competition

  Currently our coastal cities have a questionable fate with a high risk of flooding due to rising sea levels and increased storm severity. However, disaster averted can be just as important as tragedy realized. By preparing for the inevitable and protecting the valuable one can survive and rebuild. The City of Key West is unique in not only it’s remote location, extended evacuation time, and hurricane false alarm rate but also with it’s geography. The first step is exposing the underlying issues at hand of the island City of Key West with architecture as the apparatus. In doing so fostered new ways of thinking about architecture that accepts natural forces rather than attempting to resist them. This architecture has the power to protect and enhance ones life with spacial relations that can be seen as constantly transforming and adapting to the conditions at hand. This resilient architecture does not merely accept flooding but acts as a register of flooding. 

  The initial response is protection as seen in military fortifications with the implementation of “The Wall.” “The Wall” is a space-defining piece protecting all that lies within its boundaries. Within the “Wall” however lies the “Cenote.” Exposing the natural groundwater lying beneath the surface, the “Cenote” sets the stage for the “Liberation.” A floating form, the “Liberation” is naturally in flux with daily tides as well as the potential extreme flooding seen from storm surges and rising sea level. 

  As the architecture sets the stage for the City of Key West, it also sets the stage for the Keys Marine Laboratory (MOTE). Continually working towards a model of a healthy coral reef, MOTE is on the forefront of preparing and planning for the effects of rising sea and natural disaster on coral reefs. 

  Together, MOTE is a model for how a city not only recovers from natural disaster, loss of land and infrastructure but how a city can adapt to inevitable changes. This “architecture serves man, enhancing man’s life on Earth fulfilling his belief in the nobility of his existence.” 

–Eero Saarinen- 

Read more

Status: Competition Entry
Location: Key West, FL, US
My Role: Lead Designer