“Designing with Water” in Boston and Around the World

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston, in partnership with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Boston Harbor Association, will be holding an international design competition for climate preparedness. The contest, which will kick off this fall, is funded by an $86,000 grant awarded by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management to the BRA, and $35,000 awarded by the Barr Foundation to the Boston Harbor Association.

“The City of Boston continues to be a national leader on climate preparedness,” said Mayor Walsh. “This design competition will bring concepts and ideas from around the world, such as those in the Boston Harbor Association’s new report, to fruition in Boston.”

The competition will call for creative and innovative climate-change resilient design solutions for three at-risk waterfront sites in Boston.  Hosted along with the Boston Society of Architects, the competition seeks implementable planning and design solutions that will prepare these sites for current coastal flood risks and future sea-level-rise.  Details about the competition will be announced this fall. For more information and updates, please contact Nicholas Martin at 617-918-4426 or [email protected].

This announcement coincides with the release of a report by the Boston Harbor Association and Sasaki Associates that focuses on urban design solutions to sea level rise resulting from climate change. The report, “Designing with Water: Creative Examples from Around the Globe” provides Boston-relevant case studies and recommends city planners and developers explore innovative designs to enable urban areas to survive, and thrive, in the face of sea level rise and extreme coastal storms.

“While extreme flooding is generally a new problem for Boston, cities such as Amsterdam, Hamburg and Seoul have had decades, even centuries, of learning how to allow flooding without damage occurring,” said Julie Wormser, Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association. “These cities have recognized that it is financially, culturally, and ecologically beneficial to work with water, instead of fighting to keep every last drop out.”

Developed with support from the Barr Foundation, the peer-reviewed report focuses on the concept of “Designing with Water” flood management, the strategy of allowing defined areas to flood or contain water in order to prevent damage to other areas. The report provides 12 case studies that show how these strategies allow cities all over the world to decrease their potential flood damage while enhancing the vibrancy and livability of their communities. Case studies include successful design projects such as floating apartment buildings, canals, floodable first floors, and floodable open space within cities.

“’Designing with Water’ is an exciting collection of examples which can incorporate design principles at the individual building, neighborhood, or regional level,” said Nina Chase of Sasaki Associates. “There is something we can all do to help prepare Boston for rising seas.” Sea level in Boston has risen by a foot over the last century, and it is projected that it could rise another two to six feet by the end of the century. As sea levels rise and chronic flooding becomes the “new normal,” cities are moving to more flexible, resilient solutions. The new report and design competition will help Boston identify design opportunities to manage chronic flooding while providing other benefits such as new recreation areas, marsh habitat, and more livable communities.

“Designing with Water: Creative Examples from Around the Globe” can be viewed and downloaded on the Boston Harbor Association’s website, here:  http://www.tbha.org/climate-change-adaptation [1].

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