Resilient by Design Challenge

Rockefeller Foundation awards $4.6-million to fight sea level rise in Bay Area

Architecture City Terrain News West
The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded $4.6-million to Resilient By Design, which aims to retrofit the San Francisco Bay Area against sea level rise. (Courtesy Chris Leipelt)
The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded $4.6-million to Resilient By Design, which aims to retrofit the San Francisco Bay Area against sea level rise. (Courtesy Chris Leipelt)

This week, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded $4.6 million to the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge team, a collection of San Francisco Bay Area organizations looking to use a public competition to develop approaches for fortifying the region’s infrastructure against the growing threat of climate change and sea level rise. The funds will allow this collection of municipal and non-profit organizations to develop regionally- and ecologically-focused infrastructural resiliency schemes throughout 10 sites spread across the Bay Area.

The competition timeline will be divided into two phases. First, starting in April, the teams will participate in a three-month-long research and community engagement exercise aimed at developing initial design concepts for the specific sites with a “multi-faceted approach to resiliency.” The teams will then have five months to design—working with community members and local municipalities—implementable infrastructure projects.

Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge is modeled after the Rockefeller Foundation’s Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition developed in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy on the eastern seaboard by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Rockefeller Foundation in 2012. Bay Area: Resilient by Design will work closely with The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which is organized to assist 100 cities around the world in building urban resilience. The Bay Area region is home to three network cities—San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland—and is already in the midst of planning for future perils. Those three cities worked in 2016 to develop future-oriented resiliency strategies that will now influence the forthcoming competition.

Allison Brooks, executive director of the Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC)—an organization that coordinates the planning efforts of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)—speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper over telephone, said, “We’re bringing in people from all over the world who have been grappling with this issue.” Brooks and fellow organizers behind Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge will spend the next several months identifying sites across the Bay Area to feature in the competition while also working with local communities to identify specific needs.

Brooks added, “We’re not responding to a catastrophic disaster but a slow-moving disaster. The region has organized its most dense development and valuable infrastructure around a Bay that is expanding as a result of sea level rise.” Recent studies indicate that the level of the bay may rise between three- and four-feet between now and 2100. The nine-county region surrounding the San Francisco Bay is home to roughly 7-million inhabitants and is especially threatened by sea level rise, as many of the region’s key population and economic centers are located along the bay itself.

For more information on the competition, see the Rebuild by Design website.

Related Stories