By Steve Wolf, senior designer
The back-burner issue of resilience planning has rocketed to the top of political agendas in coastal cities around the US as a result of Superstorm Sandy. As we were putting together our post about the need to keep urban design at the center of that planning (below), we found ourselves, um, flooded with Web links and resources. We share the best of those here and plan to expand this list as we find more.
- Rising sea levels in New York Bay proved a key ingredient in the huge storm surges that washed over all five boroughs during Sandy. We’ve seen no clearer introduction to the science behind sea level rise in New York and globally than this interview with NASA Goddard Institute climatologist Cynthia Rosenzweig, posted at NOAA’s Climate Portal. It manages to convey the gravity of the challenge New York faces in the next century without sensationalism—no small feat.
- Architecture 2030 offers a wealth of information on the threat climate change poses to American cities and effective strategies for shrinking the carbon footprint of the built environment. Its unfussy interactive map feature shows the impact of higher sea levels on dozens of coastal communities.
- One of the best overviews of climate-change impacts globally comes from a report released in 2007 by the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). It ranks the 20 most-vulnerable cities in 2005 in terms of population and cost of potential damage from 1-in-100-year flooding (a standard that will soon require dramatic recalibration, as back-to-back Hurricanes Irene and Sandy showed in New York), and provides a comparable list for 2070.
- The Urban Climate Change Research Network focuses on urban areas worldwide and released a useful comprehensive report on the topic in 2011.
- The relatively young Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast focuses on risk and adaptation for Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and will eventually broaden its scope to include smaller coastal cities from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. It comprises researchers at UMass, Columbia, CCNY, Stevens, and Drexel—a happy coincidence for us, since we recently completed a 30-year master plan for the Drexel campus.
- The post-storm chatter about protecting New York’s infrastructure turned reflexively to engineered solutions, from massive storm barriers to Texas-sized inflatable plugs that might have kept seven East River tunnels dry. Mainstream thinking, however, increasingly includes approaches that enlist natural processes in creating cheaper and lower-maintenance solutions. Next American City pulled together a good sampling of these “soft” proposals.
- During our creation of the post-Katrina master plan for New Orleans, we had the good fortune to take part in the provocative Dutch Dialogues organized by Waggonner & Ball architects. The provocative series offers an excellent model for rethinking a city’s relationship with water and for reimagining water-control infrastructure as urban amenities—precisely what we mean when we argue that urban design must play a central role in resilience planning.
- As for those engineered approaches, the reliable Yale Environment 360 features contributions from faculty and researchers at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. This post offers a thoughtful look at surge barriers, one of the “hard” solutions most commonly cited after the storm. It reviews how barriers could protect New York Bay and notes their increasing use in cities from Providence to St. Petersburg.