Amy Hartman

Amy Hartman

Resilient by Design Heightens Conversation on Bay Area Sea Level Rise

To be honest I haven’t come across an area in the world that’s as vulnerable as the Bay Area. There’s just so much low-lying land that’s impacted by even small amounts of sea level rise.” – Richard Mullane, a principal landscape architect with the international firm Hassell (KQED article).

In fact, Bay Area sea level rise could cause anywhere from 20 – 165 square miles of land in the region to be underwater by 2100, according to researchers at some of our country’s leading universities. With land in the Bay Area sinking and the Bay’s waters rising, our region’s situation is both dire and extraordinarily difficult for humans to wrap our heads around.

Resilient by Design Collaborative Design Phase—9 Innovative Solutions

“There are some similar themes in the projects. “We live in a relatively built environment. There are a lot of areas along the Bay where there’s not a lot of room to build up or move back … ‘How do we live with water?’ is how a lot of the teams framed the question.” Amanda Brown-Stevens, Managing Director, Resilient by Design.

Cities around the Bay recently had the opportunity to partner with nine extraordinary design teams that have been working to address Bay Area sea level rise in some of the region’s most vulnerable locations. These teams are part of the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge, which just concluded the collaborative design phase of the competition.

The teams—comprised of some of the most talented technical experts (architects, hydrologists, ecologists, landscape architects) in the Bay Area and around the world—teamed up with local communities at nine specific sites to develop innovative and inspiring design solutions to sea level rise. Their chosen solutions were presented in mid-May in front of the public, and a jury—made up of world renowned planners, architects, and environmentalists— that provided constructive feedback and guidance on each of the designs.

Liz Ogbu – a designer, social innovator and urbanist – comments as part of the Resilient by Design jury. Photo by Kingmond Young

Greenbelt Alliance was lucky to work with several of the teams during the course of the collaborative design phase of the competition, and came away incredibly impressed by these design proposals. We are excited to be a part of the journey they will take in the coming years.

The nine designs can all be found on the Resilient by Design website, and the teams’ full presentations can be viewed here.

A guest viewing one of the Resilient By Design team's proposals to combat Bay Area sea level rise.
Reviewing a team’s design proposal. Photo by Kingmond Young
Next Steps and Call to Action

Resilience is about the options that you create for yourself down the road,Marcel Wilson, Landscape Architect

The Resilient by Design staff and teams, along with local communities and agencies, are now thinking about how to begin implementing these design ideas in a truly community-driven and community-led manner. Building resilience to Bay Area sea level rise is going to take an all-hands-on-deck effort. It is a truly exciting and challenging endeavor that will unfold in the coming months and years.

Future Segments

This is Part 1 on a series of blog posts covering the Resilient by Design Challenge in the Bay Area. In future blog posts, we’ll discuss the regional themes that came out of the design challenge and also the key lessons learned. We’ll also interview Resilient by Design team members, staff, and local stakeholders to learn more about how we can empower local communities and encourage local governments and regional agencies to move forward with these design proposals in a collaborative and collective effort.

To learn more about sea-level rise, click here.

Photo: Karl Nielsen

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