Fall 2017

CED Teams Up with AECOM, CMG, IDEO and others to Tackle Critical Resilience Challenges

Jennifer Wolch 2016

After Hurricane Sandy hit the New York coast, the Rockefeller Foundation partnered with the US Department of Housing & Urban Development to organize a global competition, Rebuild by Design, to redesign key parts of shoreline that were heavily damaged — and remained vulnerable to future extreme weather events and sea level rise. Now, a coalition of public agencies and nonprofit organizations, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program, has launched the Bay Area’s own competition: the Resilience by Design Challenge: Bay Area (or RBD for short).

This past May, the RBD launched an open call for teams of thought-leaders, architects, engineers, public finance experts, academics, and natural resource scientists to participate in an intensive and collaborative community-based research and design process. They also issued an open invitation for community members to name vulnerable sites around the Bay Area, of which 10 (from 76 submitted) would be selected for in-depth research, analysis, and proposals. The RBD’s stated goal is “[r]ather than wait for a natural disaster, the San Francisco Bay Area is proactively reimagining a better future by creating a blueprint for resilience that harnesses Bay Area innovation and serves as a model for communities around the world.”

Thus began a mad rush across the world to assemble teams for consideration by RBD, which would select 10 teams (one per site). Each team was expected to include an academic partner. CED was approached by a variety of potential firms interested in participating in the challenge, eventually teaming up with AECOM, CMG, and IDEO as well as our colleagues from California College of the Arts (CCA). Led on the CED side by Kristina Hill (LAEP) and Nicholas de Monchaux (ARCH), I’m happy to report that our team – All Bay Collective or ABC – was selected amongst over 50 teams competing to tackle the RBD challenge.

Participating in the RBD will add incredible intellectual richness to this year at CED, as well as an array of opportunities for students to see the evolution of a major urban design/infrastructure project up close. While the 10 teams will conduct collaborative research and work with community participants at all 10 sites during the fall, Nate Kaufman (MLA ‘14 and now an LAEP doctoral student) has coordinated a Fall Semester RBD Colloquium that brings together members of the ABC team, outside experts, other CED faculty, and students to create the conceptual framework and operational alternatives for confronting vulnerability and increasing resilience.

At the same time, seminars and studios focused on RBD are being led by several faculty, including Nicholas de Monchaux, Harrison Fraker, Chris Calott, and Karen Frick. In spring, ABC will be assigned one specific site, and we will enter the design phase. At that point, Richard Hindle (LAEP) from CED and Niraj Bhatia (ARCH) from CCA will lead a parallel Spring Semester studio focused on the site, and other studios and seminars led by faculty from across the college, including Kristina Hill and Elizabeth Macdonald (DCRP) will take up related issues – just as the ABC team comes together to design a set of potential strategies for our assigned site. Final ABC designs will be presented to the RBD jury in May, 2018.

College-wide projects such as the RBD provide an invaluable impetus for cross-disciplinary discussion and debate, offer a window through which students can observe and begin to understand the world of practice, and build the CED community in a unique way. We will issue periodic “reports from the field” over the coming year. Please stay tuned!