Design Challenge to Reveal Nine New Ideas For Tackling Threat of Sea Level Rise in Bay Area

Alameda, California - Last week, Resilient by Design came together to champion nine newly released,  innovative solutions to address sea level rise and other climate-related flood impacts and increase social resilience put forward by Design Teams, 50+ community groups and countless Bay Area residents.

The year-long Bay Area Challenge unveiled the solutions during a two-day Summit drawing over 700 attendees, including elected officials from across the Bay Area, gathered to hear from local stakeholders and international experts on the importance of the continued work of resilience building, beyond the Bay Area Challenge and into the future.

At the celebration, each Design Team was awarded an Impact Recognition Award by the Resilient by Design jury, a high-profile group of international designers, ecologists, and climate experts, to honor their extraordinary achievements over the last year. See below for the Jury’s recognitions and watch the presentation of awards HERE.

The celebration followed Thursday’s announcement of nine new approaches that tackle the very real threat of sea level rise in Bay Area communities. The innovative ideas stem from the year-long research and design Challenge that partnered world-renown designers with local communities to develop potential solutions for building resilience on a local, regional and global scale.

“We know that a regional strategy, with a constellation of approaches, is the only way we all win,” said Amanda Brown-Stevens, Managing Director of Resilient by Design. “The Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge has not only created tangible solutions for threatened communities across our region — it is now a blueprint for how communities can collaborate in the future to tackle the challenges related to climate change we are facing in the future.”

The Bay Area was selected for this Challenge based on its climate risk, its role as a global economic leader and the intersection of social issues like displacement, transportation, jobs and housing with the threat of rising sea-levels. The challenge was the first-ever to be modeled after the award-winning Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, which was pioneered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.

“From the outset, this challenge was designed to tap into the innovative and collaborative spirit that defines the Bay Area to solve the growing problems facing communities across the world today,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which also pioneered Rebuild by Design. “Looking at all the diversity of design solutions presented, I’m so excited to say that we’re on the right path to achieving this goal and I look forward to what comes next.”

By seizing the critical need to address climate change as an opportunity to bring about a stronger, safer Bay Area, the Challenge serves as a catalyst for cities and communities to take the next step and collaborate to bring these new solutions to life.

The celebration and summit proceed Governor Brown’s Global Climate Action Change Summit in San Francisco in September, underscoring that the Bay Area is at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

“By continuing this important work, it’s our hope that other parts of the country and around the world will follow in the Bay Area’s footsteps, spurring innovation, bringing essential voices to the table for collaborative problem solving and building resilience before disaster,” said Allison Brooks, Executive Director of Bay Area Regional Collaborative. “Each team’s proposal illuminates both immediate and longer-term ways we can safeguard the Bay Area and make it more environmentally, socially and economically resilient.”

The All Bay Collective | San Leandro Bay
The Estuary Commons: People, Place, and Path Forward
Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized the All BayCollective for facilitating collaboration as a way forward:

“This team had to find a way to bring San Leandro Bay back into the hearts and minds of the people around it. Their Estuary Commons proposal created the opportunity to come together culturally, environmentally and institutionally. The All Bay Collective not only found a way forward that would bring everyone in, but they also found a way forward to institutionalize that way of collaboration.” - Henk Ovink - International Water Affairs, Netherlands, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

To protect local neighborhoods and restore native habitats, the All Bay Collective reimagines the shoreline of San Leandro Bay with the creation of Estuary Commons. Through the construction of ponds, landforms, and expanded streams, the communities of Deep East Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro will not only be able to adapt to sea-level rise and groundwater flooding, but will also have a network of flourishing greenways to enjoy for generations to come. The All Bay Collective worked closely with eight community organizations to move community groups from the margins to the center of the design and planning process.

Participant Statement:

“We came to this challenge as a team of technical and academic experts. We leave as committed allies in community-driven planning, enriched by our collaboration with neighborhood and agency representatives. We see the San Leandro Bay Estuary representing the dawn of a new era in city-making – an era where community priorities are at the heart of important decisions and residents prosper in harmony with rising water levels.” -  Stephen Engblom,  All Bay Collective Project Director, Senior Vice President, Cities, AECOM
Learn more about The Estuary Commons: People, Place, and Path Forward here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/san-leandro-bay/

BIG + ONE + Sherwood | City of San Francisco: Bayview-Hunters Point, Dogpatch, and Potrero Hill
Islais Hyper-Creek

Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized BIG + ONE + Sherwood for seeing both the opportunities and the risks of impending changes in Islais Creek:

The team began with water. They focused on the creek… as the armature for a new way of thinking about this area and managing the change that will happen. They organized urbanism around a changing future. That sensitivity to the environment and to the place was very impressive to the jury.” - Shelley Poticha, NRDC, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

Islais Hyper-Creek is a vision for the area where ecology and industry co-exist in harmony. BIG + ONE + Sherwood unveiled six proposed pilot projects, developed together with stakeholders and local communities, to kickstart a long-term process toward realizing the overall vision. At the center of their proposal is a large park with a restored tidal creek system and soft shoreline shares the area with maritime functions, light manufacturing, and logistics that have formed the area’s economic backbone for decades. The park plays an important role in building physical and social resilience: it retains, conveys and cleans water, protecting the surrounding neighborhoods while providing amenities and benefits to the community.
Participant Statement:
“The Islais Hyper-Creek project has challenged our team to create meaningful opportunities for bottom-up, community-centered design and cross-group collaboration. We have found that this kind of process has enabled disparate community members and groups, as well as traditionally siloed city agencies, to join the same table and co-create together. “ - Bry Sarté, Founding Partner at Sherwood Design Engineers

Learn more about Islais Hyper-Creek here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/islais-creek/

Bionic Team | San Rafael, Marin County
Elevate San Rafael

Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized Bionic Team for their attention drawn to immediate flood risk and impressive community engagement effort:

“This team makes the flood risk very evident, drawing attention to the people hurt now by climate change...and has impressively engaged the community, asking questions that directly influence the design.” - Helle Soholt, Gehl Architects, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

Elevate San Rafael is a new paradigm for responding to complex environmental change and simply what needs to be done: occupy higher elevations and raise the quality of life and social connection for everyone. It proposes evolving the city by combining time-tested approaches to coastal adaptation with a moral, financial, and infrastructural agenda for large-scale preparation.

Learn more about Elevate San Rafael here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/san-rafael/

Common Ground | San Pablo Bay, Sonoma & Napa County
The Great Bayway

Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized Common Ground for the greatest ecological potential:

“We encourage the Bay Area community to take this proposal very seriously and collaborate with this transformative effort. Their vision presents a real net ecosystem gain while creating a 21st century regional park. We believe that the Grand Bayway project should be a concrete example of Resilient by Design for the world.” - Roberto Moris - Research Centre for an Integrated Risk Management (CIGIDEN) and Director of the Cities Observatory UC (OCUC), Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

State Highway 37, a low-lying commute route that skirts the northern edge of San Pablo Bay, is both traffic-choked and increasingly flooded due to sea level rise. Sitting atop a precarious levee that confines an immense but compromised marsh complex, Fraser Shilling has observed, “the highway has the dubious distinction of constricting both traffic and tidal flows.” The project considers a new future for this highway as an elevated scenic byway, creating an iconic “front door” to a vast ecological open space previously known to few. Accessible to bikes, runners, kayaks, campers, and fishermen, the Grand Bayway will become a Central Park for more 21st century sensibilities in rapidly expanding North Bay communities.

Learn more about The Great Bayway here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/san-pablo-bay/

HASSELL+ | South San Francisco, San Mateo County
Collect & Connect - Resilient South City
Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized HASSELL+ for their pragmatic and convincing focus on neighborhood-level interventions from the mountain to the bay:

“The can-do pragmatism of Collect & Connect - Resilient South City is complemented by an aspect of poetic ecological thinking - a wide-angle approach that links the area’s mountain to its city and its bay…it looks up as well as looking down.” - Sarah Ichioka, Desire Lines, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

Collect & Connect - Resilient South City is a proposal to create more public green space and continuous public access along South San Francisco’s Colma Creek, aiming to reduce the impacts of flooding, mitigate against sea-level rise vulnerability, restore native flora and fauna, and create more amenity and healthy lifestyle opportunities by connecting a continuous public corridor from the Orange Memorial Park to a new public park at the shoreline.

Participant Statement:

“Addressing the challenge of sea level rise in San Mateo County will require bold and innovative community-based solutions. The expertise brought by the HASSELL+ team will continue to be an invaluable resource as we strive to create resilience and integrate our communities with a rapidly changing San Francisco Bay.” -  Dave Pine, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President  
Learn more about Collect & Connect - Resilient South City here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/south-san-francisco/

P+SET | Marin City, Marin County
Designing Our Own Solutions

Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized P+SET for their impact in community capacity building:

With mutual respect, acceptance of local knowledge, and a commitment to inclusion at the core of their work, this team demonstrates a community-led process to equip one of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Marin County in their efforts to address climate resiliency.” - Cynthia Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

The Permaculture and Social Equity Team proposed a social design process to build community capacity in leading the challenges of coastal adaptation and resiliency planning. The team was invited to implement their process in Marin City by Shore Up Marin, an environmental justice and resiliency planning organization. Out of the process grew a capacity building program, resulting in an inspiring People’s Plan to authentically reflect the aspirations and intentions of the resident community. An intergenerational cohort expanded existing knowledge for assessing and addressing risks, developing near and long-term strategies with a prioritized set of projects to be partially implemented as early as this summer.

Learn more about Designing Our Own Solutions here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/final-design-pset/

Public Sediment | Alameda Creek, Alameda County
Unlock Alameda Creek

Renderings linked here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized Public Sediment’s work as a model for research, design, practice and education around the bay and beyond:

“The question is can a healthy marsh outgrow sea level rise? This project recognizes the power of mud, the creek, the river, the power of scale and the power to start. This clear, practical, actionable project that can be a model for research, design, and practice for the rest of the region, around the Bay and beyond.” - David Waggonner, Waggonner & Ball, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

Unlock Alameda Creek is an implementable project that links Alameda Creek with its historic Baylands.  By reconnecting sediment flows from Alameda Creek to the marshes and mudflats at the Bay Area’s edge, the proposal creates a protective ecological infrastructure that adapts to sea level rise. It provides a sustainable supply of sediment to bay marshes and mudflats for sea level rise adaptation, reconnects migratory fish with their historic spawning grounds, and introduces a network of community spaces that reclaim the creek as a place for people, building an ethos and awareness around our public sediment resources.

Participant Statements:

“I support Unlock Alameda Creek because sediment is the lifeblood of these marshes. By creating more connectivity for wildlife and sediment we’re going to help protect these wetlands as they become more vulnerable to sea level rise.” - John Bourgeois, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
“Public Sediment represents a paradigm shift in how we plan for climate change. Sediment is the building block of resilience in the Bay Area – without it, marshes and mudflats will drown with sea level rise. It is urgent that we collaborate now to unlock our clogged tributaries, transform them into functional spaces for sediment, people, and fish, and reconnect tributary flows to the Baylands. This is our vision for a Resilient Bay – one that works slowly over time to adapt to uncertain rates of climate change, and one that functions for the people of the creek and the fish of the creek, today. “ - Gena Wirth, SCAPE, Public Sediment Team
Learn more about Unlock Alameda Creek here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/alameda-creek/

The Home Team |  Richmond, California
ouR-HOME
Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized The Home Team for centering potent legacy work as a starting point for their designs:

“Rather than prescribing grand gestures, this Design Team has used their skills to connect, enhance, visualize, and communicate these locally grown projects to a larger audience. This proposal starts from and centers on the potent legacy work to overcome decades of disinvestment and environmental injustice.” - Sarah Ichioka, Desire Lines, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

The ouR-HOME sea level rise response projects are linked to the health and financial well-being of residents that have been traditionally shut out of opportunities to improve health and family wealth. Small lot housing, a community land trust, social impact bonds and community infrastructure combine to lower the cost of entry to home ownership. Green infrastructure proposals to bring the ‘marsh to Main Street’ with a horizontal levee, and plant 20,000 trees to filter air and water, are strategies that can be implemented through existing local job and career programs – benefiting the people in North Richmond.

Participant Statements:

“A lot of the marshes that characterize North Richmond are going to be lost to sea level rise. We are working with the community to look at places where the wildlife and the bird communities and other critters that rely on these marshlands can find places to escape to as sea level rises.”- Josh Bradt, San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Homeownership is important for us out here because that’s another way of building community.  It’s something to live for. It’s something you can leave to your loved ones, your children.”- Courtney Moore, Urban Tilth Watershed Program Manager
Learn more about ouR-HOME here: http://www.resilientbayarea.org/north-richmond/

The Field Operations Team | San Mateo and Santa Clara County
South Bay Sponge
Renderings available here

The Resilient by Design Jury recognized The Field Operations Team for creatively and elegantly communicating and connecting with South Bay communities and stakeholders:

“The South Bay is now a hub of innovation and technology and promise for the future. The team had to pull the characteristics of the South Bay together with the challenge of water -- the opportunity that water presents for recreation, environment, and quality of life as a community resource, but also the hazards that water represents from the floods coming from the upland watershed and flooding from the Bay.” - Denise Reed, The Water Institute of the Gulf, Resilient by Design Jury Member

Project Overview:

The “Sponge” is a concept for using nature and natural systems as a primary tool for climate adaptation and resilience in the South Bay, inspired by both the historic function of the region’s inter-tidal marshlands as flood protection, as well as by the remarkable efforts to restore the South Bay Salt Ponds. The potential of a large-scale assemblage of remnant marshlands, newly restored salt ponds and newly constructed wetlands as the core component of a regional flood protection strategy is at once radically innovative, but also resonant with the South Bay landscape today. In addition to addressing climate adaptation, the South Bay Sponge can give the landscapes of the South Bay a powerful and legible identity.

Participant Statement:

“We are inspired by our experience working with the varied communities in the South Bay and Silicon Valley to shape a vibrant and living framework for adaptation in the face of climate change and sea level rise. The “South Bay Sponge” envisions a future where nature and technology work together to improve the resiliency of our cities and towns, our social fabric and our collective health and well-being.” - Richard Kennedy, James Corner Field Operations, The Field Operations Team
 

ABOUT:
On May 17, nine innovative solutions to address the threat of sea level rise in the Bay Area were revealed at a celebration and summit. The new solutions are the result of a unique year-long research and design project, Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, that brought the world’s leading designers, architects, artists, engineers, scientists, communities, students and more together with a new but simple premise: what if we could take on one of our biggest challenges by challenging teams of innovators to come up with new ideas to help our region? The Bay Area was selected to host this design challenge because of the region’s deep history of innovation, creativity andcommunity coupled with the urgency to act.

The Challenge is a collaborative research and design initiative that over the last year has connected design leaders to community members, local leaders, and national experts. Throughout the year-long challenge, nine Design Teams of landscape architects, engineers, designers and other experts worked alongside community members and local government to identify critical areas along the San Francisco Bayfront and propose exciting new solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding andearthquakes.

Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge was modeled on the successful New York Rebuild by Design, a partnership of the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Bay Area project, also funded by the Rockefeller Foundation flips the order — asking communities to tackle the impacts of sea level rise before disaster strikes.

The Bay Area Challenge has resulted in nine new implementable solutions designed to help communities adapt to the future effects of climate change. These solutions are designed to improve public access to recreation areas, address housing issues, protect vulnerable infrastructure and strengthen transportation systems. As agencies, community members, elected leaders andteam members came together to reveal the new designs on May 17th and 18th, they also looked to the future to begin laying out plans to bring the best parts of the new solutions to life.

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