It's widely accepted that climate change affects us all, and cities in particular. So what are some of the most vulnerable cities doing to adapt to rising seas and extreme weather events? Three experts from three cities—all of whom are current or former government officials—zeroed in on cities' responses to climate change in their respective regions at a mini Columbia GSAPP conference titled Cities and Climate Action. They were: Jeffrey Hebert, from New Orleans; Adam Freed, from New York; and Rodrigo Rosa of Rio de Janeiro, a visiting scholar at Columbia University and a legislative consultant in the Brazil Federal Senate. Climate change, the experts agreed, is addressed not just through the environment—destructive hurricanes or deadly heat waves—but through a city's culture, economy, and landscape. In New Orleans, starting around 2007, post-Katrina planning responded both to hurricane damage but also looked realistically at the profound impact of climate change on the urban fabric, explained Hebert, the city's deputy mayor & chief resilience officer. Southern Louisiana, Hebert said, has the highest rate of relative sea level rise (coastal subsidence) in the world. New Orleans, consequently, has spent $14 billion in storm surge prevention, part of a $50 billion coastal master plan that covers the whole region. Despite the destruction wrought by Katrina—over 1,800 residents died—the water in today's resilience planning is very present, in part to keep climate change adaptation at the forefront of people's consciousness. "The water will be visible," said Hebert. "We have to do that in order to remain the city we’ve always wanted to be.” A tight network of interventions supports this goal: The 25-acre Mirabeau Water Garden is parkland that controls flooding, while rain gardens in medians, disaster preparedness strategies for buildings and neighborhoods, and a pumping system (second largest only to the Netherlands) keeps the city from being inundated. Climate change planning, though, goes beyond big-ticket water management. New Orleans residents are still recovering from Katrina trauma, and a new program addresses the barriers people face when trying to rebuild after life-altering events; after all, neighborhoods are nothing without their people. Hebert said a new city program, Connect to Opportunity, aims to reduce barriers to employment, build social cohesion, promote public heath, expand access to safe and affordable housing, redesign regional transit, and improve the reliability of energy infrastructure. That program is part of the city's overall resilience plan that was adopted in 2015. Up north, New York City's infrastructure is being upgraded to accommodate a growing population—a projected one million new residents between now and 2030. According to Freed, former deputy director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the infrastructure boost “had absolutely nothing to do with climate change" but it was a collateral benefit from the city's projected growth. To build resilience, “every facet of our built environment needs to change,” said Freed, who is now a principal at Bloomberg Associates. He noted that when he worked under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just two percent of buildings were responsible for half of energy use in buildings. To combat this, the administration launched the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which phased out things like heavy heating oil, one step in the city's plan to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Recent projects include CitiBike, which had more than 10 million rides last year, microgrids for local energy production, flood protection in public housing, and turning rooftops into green roofs. In a post-talk discussion, moderator and New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman was joined by Columbia's Kate Orff, founding principal of SCAPE and director of GSAPP's urban design program, and Weiping Wu, director of the urban planning program. A few key points emerged: regional collaboration, meaningfully extending resilience to include local culture, and getting people to consistently care about climate change. While cities are crucial nodes in climate change response, the commentators agreed that it's prime time to build connections between cities and regions. Even though the U.S. Department of Defense was one of the first agencies to recognize climate change as a security threat, it can be hard to get different levels of governments agree on a climate change agenda. But fighting factionalism is crucial: “To scale up what we do," Rosa said, "we have to be involved in regions.” There are surprising connections between the cities: Hebert noted that in NOLA and in Rio, carnival organizations provide deep connections for social cohesion. After all, big storms and rising seas are only the “spark in the tinder” that exposes existing problems, said Kimmelman. In the Netherlands, he added, people feel that water is "taken care of" and some fear that their fellow citizens have become complacent to the threat of climate change. Although it's true that climate change is hard to see, people care about its effects—extreme weather, compromised air and water quality. That's why, Orff said, projects that sport parks and green space but are also heavy-duty flood protection measures are a good strategy for public buy-in.
Posts tagged with "resilience":
Mayor Bill de Blasio this month signed legislation that will expedite approval of demolition and construction work performed by New York City–procured contractors under the Build it Back program. This bill will help to fast-track the city's rebuilding efforts that continue four years after Hurricane Sandy. Build it Back is a city initiative that provides funds to rebuild areas devastated by the historic storm. “We are pushing every day to accelerate construction, cut red tape and get people back into their homes. I want to thank Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership, the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Mark Treyger, and the rest of the City Council for passing this essential bill,” de Blasio said. The bill, known as Intro. 1341, offers two ways for the City to speed up construction: First, it expedites the demolition process by allowing necessary paperwork to be completed after the demolition, given that the work is supervised by licensed safety professionals. Second, it allows projects that were not allowed to move forward because of violations pre-dating the Build It Back program to proceed while simultaneously protecting the safety of those homes and their homeowners in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, many of whom are ready to get back to their daily lives. The goal is to get those people back in their homes, but also to plot a path forward for resilient neighborhoods that can withstand future storms. Previously, the de Blasio administration and the city council have provided tax relief for property owners affected by the 2012 storm and have also helped to remove unnecessary zoning restrictions on both elevation and construction. “Four long years after Hurricane Sandy, many New Yorkers are still waiting to be able to return home. We cannot allow red tape or sluggish bureaucracy to continue to delay the full recovery of the families enrolled in the Build it Back program. I am proud to have sponsored this long-overdue legislation, in partnership with the Mayor, and prouder still to see it signed into law. This bill is designed to remove unnecessary obstacles that have prevented the Build it Back program from moving forward while ensuring that rigorous safety standards are upheld,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.
As Chief Resiliency Officer for The City of Dallas, Theresa O'Donnell spends a lot of time thinking about the challenges faced by the nation’s fourth-largest metroplex. O'Donnell will bring her experience to bear on the conversation at Facades+ Dallas October 13-14, setting the stage for a deep dive into high performance facade design and fabrication with her opening remarks at day one's symposium. "Dallas is a great place to be if you're in the development community," observed O'Donnell. This has been a banner year for growth, with the city on pace to issue a record 40,000 building permits. O'Donnell is rightfully proud of Dallas' record on permit turnarounds: 81 percent are issued in three days or less. "In terms of just pushing work out the door, we have an incredibly efficient system," she said. "We really see the development community as our partner. We want to keep this golden goose laying eggs as much as we can." As O'Donnell and her colleagues craft Dallas' resiliency plan, one challenge at the front of her mind is the gap between the broader economic picture (bright) and the experience of the city's bottom-rung workers (less so). Despite the region's low unemployment rate, "this rising tide is not lifting all boats," said O'Donnell, noting a 42 percent increase in the poverty rate since 2000. "One of our major challenges is how to expand this economy to be more inclusive, and help those folks who’ve been excluded from the traditional labor force," she said. Her office is looking, in particular, at skills training, child care, and language instruction. Two other challenges are affordable housing and transportation, said O'Donnell. Despite the metro area's relatively low housing prices, "because wages are low, it's still a reach for some families to get into safe, decent, quality housing." Luxury condominium developments are booming, she added, but affordable housing "is identified as a market failure; it doesn't pencil." The city is looking at how it can combine government, philanthropic, and institutional resources to expand the supply of homes for low- and moderate-income households. Regarding transportation, explained O'Donnell, "Dallas is a very auto-centric city." Suburban sprawl leads to high transportation costs, which only increases the burden on low-income families. "Our public transit system right now is not very efficient in helping people get to work in a timely manner," said O'Donnell. "A lot of that is just the physical layout." Replacing the current hub-and-wheel system with a grid-based transit network would be a good place to start, she said. Hear more from O'Donnell and other local officials, academic, and AEC industry professionals at Facades+ Dallas. Register today to secure a space at the Day 1 symposium and in a lab or dialog workshop of your choice on Day 2.
After a close shave with nature 20 years ago, the Netherlands has sought to reinvent defensive flood prevention. "Room for the Waal" is an anti-flood program in Nijmegen, a city which spans the River Waal, Europe’s busiest waterway, where a sharp turn forms a bottleneck as it nears the city. In 1995, heavy rains in upstream France and Germany caused an upsurge in water levels in Nijmegen that threatened to breach the dikes, warranting the evacuation of the city’s 170,000 residents, as well as cattle. Despite a crisis averted, the city is undertaking a flood resilience initiative focused on widening the floodplain rather than hedging its bets with fortified embankments. Through this floodplain, excavators will carve a new channel for the River Waal, leaving an island at its center. For starters, the dikes will recede 1,148 feet inland, and the resulting widened floodplains will be excavated to create room for a new channel. The island that is left behind presents an opportunity to construct a whole new section of city along with a unique urban river park, thus creating a two-fold tool for urban regeneration and flood deterrence. At certain points, the island is at a sufficient elevation for this purpose. The city is building four new bridges to connect the new island to both sides of the river, while a new neighborhood is rising across the river from the city center, balancing urban development on both sides of the waterway. Existing floodplains along the River Waal consist mostly of agricultural land, but 50 families in the village of Lent will need to relocate nevertheless in order to accommodate the receded embankments. Room for the Waal is part of national flood prevention program "Room for the River," into which the Dutch government is investing 2.3 billion euros (nearly $2.6 billion) on more than 30 crucial river locations to protect four million people who live on flood-prone territory. The approach consists of broadening and deepening floodplains and removing groins that obstruct water flow. Room for the Waal is expected to complete at the end of this year with a final cost of $381.6 million.
A collection of grain silos and railroad tracks next to the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus is set to become a “living laboratory” for climate resilience, according to its designers and allies in city and regional government. Prospect North would be a mixed-use development with a “science park,” library, business incubators and new industrial spaces all plugged into a local power grid dedicated to the eight-acre development. Sandwiched between Highway 280 and the TCF Bank Stadium northeast, the project benefits from the recently completed Green Line—an 11-mile line that connects the Twin Cities by light rail for the first time in decades. “We saw that development was going to happen here,” Richard Gilyard, an architect working on the plan, told Next City's Rachel Dovey. So, Gilyard continued, he and other residents of the nearby Prospect Park neighborhood rallied support for a new kind of development from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Public Housing Authority, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the University of Minnesota, and other local players. Gilyard and others saw the former industrial area as a proving ground for afuturistic, climate resilient neighborhood-scale technologies. “You don’t have this in Cambridge or Berkeley,” said Tom Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Design, in a brochure for the project. “It’s a great opportunity for the Twin Cities to show what a 21st Century city could be like. How do we live? How do we educate ourselves? How do we live sustainably?” Prospect Park 2020 is still in planning phases. But its partnership with local agencies is rooted in previous climate action in the Twin Cities. Citing data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the city's climate action plan warns Minneapolis could see a substantial increase in heavy precipitation due to climate change, as well as higher average temperatures. That could push already aging infrastructure past its breaking point. The plan also calls for Minneapolis to reduce energy use by 17 percent by 2025, in part by generating 10 percent of its electricity from “local, renewable sources.”
Dialog, whether between teacher and student, master and apprentice, or a group of peers, has been an essential element of architectural practice throughout history. At next week's Facades+ Dallas conference the tradition continues, with a series of dialog workshops following day 1's symposium. Facade geeks from around the world will gather at the premier conference's Dallas debut to chew over both abstract and concrete challenges, from designing envelopes for resilience to dealing with the problem of glare. Attendees can create their own dialog workshop experience by selecting from one morning workshop and one afternoon workshop. All three afternoon workshops include a field trip to one of Dallas' many architectural destinations. The morning offerings include "Next Gen Passive: Exploring the Links between Passive Strategies, Smart Design, Sustainability, and Resiliency," coordinated by Atelier Ten's Emilie Hagen. Panelists Z Smith (Eskew+Dumez+Ripple) and Ryan Jones (Lake|Flato) will join Hagen to discuss contemporary developments in passive design and question the conflation of sustainability with the elimination of resilience, with reference to specific examples from the three firms' work. The field trip-oriented afternoon workshops include "Digital Design and Fabrication and the Shifting Paradigm of Architectural Research," with Brad Bell of TEX-FAB and HKS LINE's Heath May. Participants will tour UT Arlington's fabrication lab facilities, hear from Bell and May about their work combining academic research and studio practice, and talk to SMU student James Warton about his doctoral research on metallic alloys. Do not miss this opportunity to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the AEC industry: register for Facades+ Dallas today, and reserve your spot in two dialog or tech workshops before they sell out. Besides the hands-on, immersive workshops, the conference offers two full days of exciting keynotes, roundtable discussions, exposure to cutting-edge technology, and networking galore. Learn more at the Facades+ Dallas website.
Dallas is growing up. And just like the rest of us, the city is doing some soul-searching on its way from adolescence to adulthood. "Growing up doesn't necessarily mean growing out; bigger isn't necessarily better," said Heath May, director of HKS LINE and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+ Dallas conference. "People are starting to understand that it's time to start thinking about public policy and the way it relates to placemaking." May points to recent events, including the New Cities Summit and "Building the Just City," the third annual David Dillon Symposium, that have brought architects, city planners, and policymakers together to discuss the Big D's urban future. At the end of this month, experts in the field of facade design and fabrication as well as representatives from the City of Dallas, Dallas Morning News critic Mark Lamster, and other influential Dallasites will continue the conversation at the Texas debut of the Facades+ conference series. At the top of the list of local concerns, said May, is the idea of the connected city. When he recently saw 1930s footage of downtown Dallas, May was struck by "the sheer amount of people on the sidewalks in contrast to what you see today. Downtown is coming alive now, but it's struggling." Part of the problem is the lack of physical connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods, especially Deep Ellum, stranded on the other side of IH345, and the Trinity River. Groups like A New Dallas, which proposes tearing down the decrepit IH345, and AIA Dallas "are looking at how we can stitch the city back together—at how we can provide workforce housing to live, walk, and enjoy downtown," said May. In terms of facades, said May, the challenge is to "understand architecture as part of a system." The theme of the Facades+ Dallas is resilience; resilience, May insists, depends on various scales of design as well as on the cooperation of clients and policymakers. "We're inviting clients, developers, and members of the community to participate in these discussions when we're looking at things the city is wrestling with," said May. "Things like glare: how do you balance that with other criteria such as mitigating solar heat gain?" May is co-leading a dialog workshop on day 2 of the Facades+ conference, with TEX-FAB's Brad Bell. Participants in "Digital Design and Fabrication and the Shifting Paradigm of Architectural Research" will take a field trip to the University of Texas at Arlington, where May and Bell are involved in a consortium designed to bring together academic research and professional practice. The workshop includes a tour of UTA's fabrication facilities and a discussion of how new tools are shaping practice, as well how practice and research exist in symbiosis. Other events at Facades+ Dallas include a symposium panel on glare, plus "Balancing Cost and Performance Through Simulation," a hands-on tech workshop offered by HKS LINE's Tim Logan and Paul Ferrer. To register for dialog or tech workshops and to learn more, visit the Facades+ Dallas conference website.
Like our skin, a building's facade is a critical intermediary between its interior functions and the outside environment. High-performance envelope design thus incorporates a variety of concerns, from aesthetics to sustainability. Next month, leading AEC industry professionals will gather in the Windy City for facades+ Chicago to discuss the future of facade design through the lens of the conference theme: resilience. For more information or to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website.
As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, “resilience” has replaced “sustainability” or “green building” as the goal of environmentally-sensitive design. The concept of resilience is particularly pertinent to the building envelope—the protective barrier between a structure’s occupants and the environment. But what, exactly, does resilience mean in the context of designing and engineering facades? This question is at the heart of the facades+ Chicago conference taking place July 24–25 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Over two days, leading facades specialists will explore the role of the building envelope in designing for resilience through a series of presentations and workshops. Thursday’s symposium features a roster of speakers including James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlake) and Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (JAHN), who will deliver the morning and afternoon keynotes, respectively. Mic Patterson (Enclos), Juan Moreno (JGMA), Jeff Holmes (Woods Bagot), Steve Nilles (Goettsch Partners), and Chris Stutzki (Stutzki Engineering) will also present on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to building for resilience with glass. In an afternoon panel, Matt Jezyk (Autodesk), Zach Krohn (Autodesk), Nate Miller (CASE-Inc.), and Andrew Heumann (NBBJ) will discuss the integration of design, simulation, documentation, and production. On Friday, participants choose from a series of dialog and tech workshops for in-depth exposure to special topics and technologies. Dialog workshops include “Evolution of Breathable Building Facades,” “ReVisioning of Existing Facades,” “Supple Skins: Emerging Practices in Facade Adaptation and Resilience,” and “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive.” Tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari, advanced facade panelization and optimization, collaborative design with Grasshopper, and environmental analysis and facade optimization. Conference attendees will have plenty of time between symposium events and during workshop breaks to network with other participants and meet vendors. A complimentary networking lunch is scheduled for both days. Thursday evening there will be a cocktail reception at the Adler & Sullivan-designed Art Institute Stock Exchange Trading Room. For more information and to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
Climate change and extreme weather events have made resilience a watchword among AEC professionals. In this video from our partners at Enclos, filmed at facades+ NYC in April, Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan) talk about designing and engineering building skins to meet present and future environmental challenges. Resilience will take center stage at the facades+ Chicago conference July 24-25. Early Bird registration rates have been extended through Sunday, June 29. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.