The Rockefeller Foundation recently announced a $4.6 million grant to a coalition of Bay Area leaders to create "Bay Area: Resilient by Design," a competition that will engage regional innovators, community members, developers and policy makers, as well as designers, architects, engineers from around the globe in developing creative, realistic and long-lasting infrastructure solutions for climate and seismic challenges confronting the San Francisco Bay Area.
A $4.6 million grant was issued to a coalition of Bay Area leaders to create a competition that will develop creative, realistic and long-lasting infrastructure solutions for climate change and seismic challenges confronting the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by Myles Boisen
By BC Staff
Published: March, 2017
The Rockefeller Foundation recently announced a $4.6 million grant to a coalition of Bay Area leaders to create “Bay Area: Resilient by Design,” a competition that will engage regional innovators, community members, developers and policy makers, as well as designers, architects, engineers from around the globe in developing creative, realistic and long-lasting infrastructure solutions for climate and seismic challenges confronting the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Across the Bay Area, increasingly frequent flooding is putting more and more strain on aging infrastructure, while continued sea-level rise is threatening coastal resources. These are real and serious challenges, and they require real and serious solutions,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
This innovative challenge is modeled after the award-winning Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, which was pioneered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.
Bay Area: Resilient by Design will spur innovative infrastructure solutions for Bay Area communities, so they can withstand and thrive in the face of growing climate change-related and seismic threats, while also addressing housing and income disparity challenges. The Bay Area contest will officially kick off in March once the core staff team is in place.
Teams made up of designers, architects, ecologists, developers and infrastructure finance experts will be invited to apply this spring, and a jury made up of prominent leaders in design, science and community engagement ultimately will select 10 teams to develop visionary, realistic and replicable resiliency strategies for 10 different locations around the region. The final designs are expected to be completed by summer 2018. Each solution must help communities in the nine counties touching the San Francisco Bay to adapt to the impact of rising sea levels, increasing storms and flooding and/or seismic vulnerabilities.
The Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC) provided leadership in securing the Rockefeller Foundation grant and serves on the Executive Committee for the effort. BARC’s partner regional agencies are the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
“Tackling our most pressing challenges requires all of us—policymakers, nonprofits, businesses and community leaders—to work together. This is the guiding principle behind Resilient by Design: to focus all of the best minds in the Bay Area on holistically building our resilience,” said Zack Wasserman, chair of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. “We look forward to not only seeing the forward-thinking design solutions these teams envision for our region, but also watching as they work with our communities and developers to implement their projects. Through this partnership, I know we can all effectively and efficiently adapt for the rising tides to come.”
The $5.8 million Bay Area: Resilient by Design competition will be funded primarily through the $4.6 million contribution from the Rockefeller Foundation, which also provided financing for the Rebuild by Design competition that took place in the region around New York City. BARC and other partners will seek additional funding for the Bay Area competition from both public and private sector sponsors.
The 10 locations on which the Resilient by Design competition will focus will be selected from among some 30 Bay Area places identified as highly vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels. The competing design teams’ adaptation and protection strategies will serve as test cases for implementing tangible solutions around the Bay Area. Teams will tap into the wealth of local knowledge and resources that communities have already accumulated.
From there, they will develop innovative design solutions—from strengthening natural barriers to constructing new infrastructure. Ideally, these solutions can be implemented within the next few years, will provide other community benefits and can be replicated in other Bay Area locations. Each project must bring multiple benefits to these communities and the region while protecting vulnerable populations, enhancing the natural environment and bolstering critical infrastructure.
Bay Area: Resilient by Design will be divided into two phases: in the first phase, teams will participate in a three-month exploratory research and community engagement period to develop initial design concepts for specific sites. Teams will organically form themselves and be comprised of applicants from around the world. Phase two of the challenge will be a collaborative five-month intensive design phase with teams working in partnership with residents, businesses, community-based organizations and political leaders to develop more detailed, replicable and implementable infrastructure projects.
Bay Area: Resilient by Design also will forge close ties with the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which is seeking to help 100 cities build resilience to thrive in the face of 21st-century challenges. Home to three cities in the 100 Resilient Cities Network, the Bay Area already is working to identify solutions to the region’s challenges. In 2016, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco released resilience strategies, each of which cited climate change as one of many stresses that — if not addressed — could put the region in jeopardy.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design surfaced some of the most ambitious and powerful resilience projects we have seen, and I believe that the result will be the same in the Bay Area,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities.
The innovative challenge will seek solutions to adapt to the impact of rising sea levels in the Bay Area. Photo by Myles Boisen
Bay Area: Resilient by Design will spur innovative infrastructure solutions for Bay Area communities, so they can withstand and thrive in the face of growing climate change-related and seismic threats. Photo by Myles Boisen