Solano County Welcomes Two Design Teams in Resilient by Design Challenge

Here in Solano County, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome two of the Bay Area Resilient by Design teams, Team Uplift and Common Ground, that will be working alongside communities over the next five months in the Vallejo/Mare Island area and in the general San Pablo Bay area, respectively, to design innovative solutions to the multitude of effects brought about by climate change.

Greenbelt Alliance initially became involved in the Design Challenge when we helped to plan informational tours for the design teams around the Bay Area in the fall of 2017. We are excited to serve as a community partner and advisor to Team Uplift and Common Ground for the design phase of the Challenge. As the teams think about the complex and dynamic nature of climate change, Greenbelt Alliance will also be able to support the design process in providing expertise as to how smart growth (growing wisely in our existing towns and cities) and open space protection can serve as key elements of a comprehensive plan to address the vulnerabilities of some Bay Area communities.

In case this is the first time you’re hearing about the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge, the Challenge is a collaborative research and design project that brings together local residents, public officials and local, national, and international experts to develop innovative solutions to the issues brought on by climate change. Ten teams of engineers, architects, designers, and other experts are working alongside community members to design and propose new community-based solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes. The result will be ten new implementable projects that offer an imaginative and collaborative approach to resilience.

Team Uplift

Team Uplift after one of their recent design presentations.

Team Uplift will be working in the Vallejo and Mare Island area and is comprised of internationally-renowned architects, urban designers, and landscape architects from a variety of different firms and universities, including Gensler, Arup, and Margie Ruddick Landscape. The team is supported by HR&A Advisors, Stamen Design, UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and Stanford University’s Sustainable Urban Systems Group.

When asked about working in Vallejo, Team Uplift member Roger Sherman says, “The definition of resilience (for our purposes) includes other collateral effects of climate change like social equity, which we feel is the No. 1 issue in Vallejo. Also, transportation and potential liquefaction are issues.”

Roger also noted, “the goal is to create implementable projects, so the team plans to eventually present city residents a design strategy—an unfolding scenario. The order in which things occur is necessary for making possible the execution of the next stage. Building community support and financial momentum. It’s important for the city to be on the same page, to be on board with the plan—to bring the funding.”

Common Ground

Common Ground in the field near Highway 37 on San Pablo Bay.

Common Ground will be working in the San Pablo Bay vicinity and is led by TLS Architecture, a landscape architecture and urban design firm.

When asked about working in the San Pablo Bay region and about their efforts to work with the local communities, Thor Andersen of Team Common Ground says: 

“We think the best way to foster local and regional resilience is to engage with the bay as a place to live, to put the bay to work, and to make the bay our functional front yard and address. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at ways that the communities around San Pablo Bay could share and steward environmental resources while having more diverse means to connect with each other for work, living, recreation, food and health, and cultural ties.

As our team moves into the design phase of the challenge, our focus on San Pablo Bay has made understanding the work-to-date on all things Highway 37 and baylands conservation important aspects of our team’s approach. Our project aims to reimagine the State Route 37 (SR 37) corridor, restore the Bay Area’s largest continuous marsh system, and equitably connect communities around San Pablo Bay through a resilient and diverse transportation network. To do this, we’ll need to unite the communities of San Pablo Bay with the rest of the Bay Area by transitioning from predominantly single-function transportation infrastructure to a network of interrelated modes that encourage smart growth, are resilient to sea-level rise and seismic events, and that accommodate natural hydrological dynamics to incrementally restore vibrant and functional bayland ecosystems.”

Click here to see a video of the team doing research along Highway 37 on San Pablo Bay.

Get Involved

This is an incredible opportunity for residents and stakeholders of both the Vallejo/Mare Island area and the San Pablo Bay area to engage in innovative, long-term planning for their communities! Your involvement is crucial to the success of potential design solutions—allowing for the teams to both collaborate with and learn from the communities in which they’re working.

Greenbelt Alliance is currently crafting comprehensive community engagement strategies with both teams in order to engage and mobilize folks from as many different backgrounds and lived experiences as possible. More details on those plans are coming soon!

Email Amy at ahartman@greenbelt.org to be included on the email distribution lists the teams will use to give regular updates on their design proposals.

Learn More
  • To learn more about the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge, check out their website here.
  • Read more about Team Uplift and sign up for regular email updates on their website.
  • Click here to read more about Common Ground and sign up for regular email updates on their website.  

Header Photo: Kingmond Young

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