KEEPING CURRENT: A Sea Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami
The South Florida region has become emblematic of the threats associated with climate change. Even on sunny days, the streets regularly flood at high tide. Just three feet of sea level rise would leave a substantial part of South Florida underwater. New ideas for the built environment, regional development, and opportunities for all of the region’s six million residents are urgently needed. The region must transform its infrastructure to protect everything from drinking water to homes and business from rising seas.
In recognition of the magnitude of these challenges, Van Alen Institute initiated Keeping Current to enhance resiliency in the greater Miami area and create visionary and implementable design solutions to sea level rise.
Photos top right: Phillip Pessar / Flickr; Siralbirtus / Flickr
Photo bottom left: thejaan / Flickr
Keeping Current: A Sea Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami is a series of open design competitions inviting interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions and ideas using the lenses of economy, ecology, and equity to adapt to sea level rise.
We will work with local municipalities in the greater Miami area, along with elected officials, academics, business leaders, community advocates, and residents.
Keeping Current kicked off with a one-day research summit in Miami, engaging over 30 scientists, researchers, designers, and other experts to identify promising approaches to key challenges in the region. Attendees also discussed future research, resources, and policies that are needed for the region to adapt to climate change in ways that promote ecology, economy, and equity.
With over one billion dollars in infrastructure spending planned in the region, it’s vital to think about what this could mean and how it can benefit communities. The summit engaged local academics at the University of Florida, University of Miami, Florida International University, and Florida Atlantic University who are leading the way in discovering and identifying the myriad of causes and effects of sea level rise in South Florida and beyond.
Building from their research and the work of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact, the summit advanced the conversation on resilient design solutions. We’ve compiled notes from summit discussions, interviews, and additional research into the Keeping Current Resource Guide.
The Keeping Current Resource Guide is intended for design teams applying to the project’s competitions or working on future infrastructure projects in the region—in particular, those who are not familiar with the South Florida region.
The Resource Guide shares information on various local approaches to climate change adaptation and gathers together reports, articles, online mapping tools, and other information that can inform teams’ work. The Resource Guide is intended to offer a user-friendly survey of resources and a starting point for exploration and understanding of the region.
Anthony Abbate, AIA, NCARB, is associate provost at Florida Atlantic University, and director and professor at the School of Architecture. He is a registered architect with a master of architecture from Washington University and a bachelor of science in architecture from the Catholic University of America. His research examines historical and contemporary design and construction practices in the hot-humid climate zones of the tropics and subtropics at the macro (urban) and micro (detail) scales, exposing deeper unresolved tensions between global and local understandings of sense of place, sustainability, and climate change. Abbate co-chaired the 2011 and 2013 Subtropical Cities International Conferences, hosted by Florida Atlantic University and Queensland University of Technology, and served as design team captain of multidisciplinary South Florida Resilient Redesign workshops for the Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He published work includes the Broward County County-wide Community Design Guidebook, Subtropical Sustainable: A Context Sensitive Design Approach to Redevelopment in Broward County, and a chapter in Miami Modern Metropolis: Mid-century Architecture and Urbanism in the Tropics, edited by Allan Shulman. Abbate received 22 design awards from the American Institute of Architects, the Arango Design Award, Washington University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and AIA Florida awards for Distinguished Service, and Outstanding Architectural Education.
Farah Akiely is an academic tutor and a practicing Urban and Regional Planner. She joined the School of Architecture and Built Environment, German Jordanian University as a lecturer, and was involved in several leading projects in Jordan, Iraq, UAE, KSA, Egypt, and Sudan. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida, and works at the Center for Hydro-Generated Urbanism-UF. She holds a B.Sc. in Architecture from the University of Jordan (2010) and an M.Sc. in Spatial Planning from GJU (2013). As an urban and regional planner, advocate and researcher, Farah has participated in research projects, initiatives, and publications on Amman addressing various topics, including spatial expansion and social disparities, socio-cultural influences of urban transformation, informal settlements, and refugee camps, as well as urban resiliency, participatory planning, gentrification and the impacts of neoliberalism.
Silvia Aloisio is an architect and Phd fellow of Sapienza University. She graduated in Architecture from the University of Rome Sapienza with full marks and honors. She has been a visiting scholar in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida from 2015 to 2017 with a scholarship won for her research project, “Lazio Coastal Urban Morphology: improving the resiliency.” Her research focuses on climate conditioned architecture and development in Florida and the Caribbean Islands. She also collaborates with the Center for
Esber Andiroglu is a registered professional engineer in multiple states and a LEED AP-accredited educator who has extensive industry experience in evaluation, design, operation, and performance analysis of HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and life-safety systems, as well as power and lighting systems for a broad range of commercial and residential-building occupancies. His public-education work centers on sustainability, preservation, and recovery of water resources; energy demand; and empowerment of local communities while protecting public health. Andiroglu teaches courses on environmental systems, sustainable design, and sustainable construction, with an emphasis on built environments and communities, and researches the development of virtual fan/ pump-flow meters and their application to air- and water-conveyance systems to optimize performance efficiency. In addition, he is involved in the research and development of engineered solutions related to smart-water-energy infrastructures in response to climate-change challenges in urban-community settings.
Born in Uruguay 1986, Maria moved to the United States in 2003. She holds an Associate in Arts in Architecture from Miami-Dade College and a Bachelor’s degree in Design from the University of Florida, where she also completed a dual Master program in Architecture and Building Construction Management in 2016. After a year of professional work in Uruguay, she was appointed Research Associate for the Center of Hydro-generated Urbanism at the University of Florida under the supervision of Directors Martha Kohen and Nancy Clark. She is currently developing a Master Plan for a County fairground, and collaborating with the international organization INTA for their Annual Conference to be held in December 2017 in Gainesville, Florida.
John P. Bernal is a graduate student at The University of Florida’s School of Architecture with practical experience in remodeling existing structures and new construction and several years of successful experience managing team members. In addition to group design projects, his studio work exhibits out-of-the-box concepts and is often recognized by faculty and peers. John is at his best collaborating with others.
Jessica Bolson is a postdoctoral fellow at the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University. She conducts research on water-resource management and the transition to sustainability through the National Science Foundation Urban Water Innovation Network. Bolson worked at the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School, where she coordinated the National Science Foundation South Florida Water Sustainability and Climate project and led the project’s behavioral research team. In addition to her research, she has taught courses in climate and society, and environmental policy at the University of Miami and FIU. Jessica received a Ph.D. in environmental science and policy from the University of Miami, focusing on the effects of climate change on freshwater resources and management in South Florida. She also worked as a gubernatorial fellow in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Water Policy, where she crafted a state policy for climate change and water management.
Henry Briceño is a full research professor at the Southeast Environmental Research Center of Florida International University. He received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in geological engineering from Colorado School of Mines. He has worked as a private consultant, an academic researcher at Central University of Venezuela, and a manager in the public and private sectors. He has experience in the geochemistry of coastal oceans, estuaries, and river ecosystems, with expertise in weathering processes, nutrient cycling, ecological modeling, and statistical analysis of spatial data. His current research projects assess climate- and human-induced impacts on water quality and nutrient cycling at the continent-ocean interface, especially in South Florida.
Sonia Chao writes and teaches in the areas of sustainable architecture and urbanism, resilient design, and historic preservation in the subtropics. Her scholarship explores the intersection between historic preservation, historic places, and resilient design. Some of her more recent accomplishments include grant awards from the National Science Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Barr Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as awards to fund regional community-engagement activities in collaboration with Assistant Provost Robin Bachin, including grants from the Miami-Dade County Housing Finance Authority, the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, and the Jesse Ball DuPont Fund. In 2016, she convened a university-wide ad-hoc faculty working group, the Resilient Miami Initiative, focused on resiliency issues. She previously practiced architecture in New York City with Robert A.M. Stern and Kohn Pederson Fox, and in Venice, Italy with Studio Mar, in collaboration with Architetti Vittorio Gregotti. She received a master of science in architecture from Columbia University and bachelor’s in architecture from the University of Miami.
Nancy Clark provides leadership in urban-resilience research and development for coastal and fluvial cites in Florida and around the world. She is director of the University of Florida’s Center for Hydro-Generated Urbanism, an international initiative promoting studies of adaptation, resiliency, environmental justice, and asset preservation of waterway cities. Her interdisciplinary and collaborative project-based research has been recognized internationally through exhibitions and lectures presented globally, including in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, France, Colombia, and the U.S. She is editor of Urban Waterways: Evolving Paradigms for Hydro-Based Urbanisms, a UNESCO-series publication based on a two-day program she chaired at the International Union of Architects World Congress in Durban. She is currently completing a second book in the series, Sea Level Rise and the Future of our Coastal Settlements: Evolving Concepts in Urban and Cultural Adaptation to Changing Environments. Clark is a member of the editorial board on two international journals and a scientific committee member and editorial reviewer for the International Experts for Research Enrichment and Knowledge Exchange, International Green Urbanism Conference 2016 as well as for the UIA World Congress Architecture OtherWhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values.
Andrea Dutton is an assistant professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Geological Sciences. Her research on the behavior of sea level and polar ice sheets during past warm periods aims to better inform the public about future sea-level rise. Dutton has been extensively quoted and featured in popular media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone. Dutton serves on multiple editorial boards, steering committees, and working groups related to past climate and sea-level change. She is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the Florida Climate Institute.
Debbie Griner leads the Resilience Program at the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department, formalizing and facilitating resilience throughout its programs and functions. Griner began her 20 years of public service with the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management working on environmental compliance, permitting, planning, and outreach initiatives. In 2009, her focus shifted to sustainability and climate change initiatives, including a role in the development of GreenPrint, the county’s first community-wide sustainability plan. The Resilience Program focuses on continuing the Water and Sewer Department’s successful water-efficiency and conservation efforts, expanding energy-efficiency and renewable-energy initiatives, reducing vulnerabilities, and increasing its ability to adapt more readily to acute shocks and longer-term stresses, with the goal of bouncing back better. Griner received her bachelor of science degree in environmental studies from Florida International University, with a minor in Biology.
Denis Hector, R.A., LEED AP, is an associate professor in the University of Miami School of Architecture and the Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering. He received his B.Arch. from Cornell University and his master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania. As a DAAD Fellow at the Institut fur Leichte Flaechentragwerke, he conducted research in the laboratory of 2015 Pritzker Prize winner Frei Otto. He has taught architectural design and structures at the University of Bath, Parsons, Columbia University, and University of Pennsylvania. At University of Miami, he has served as director of graduate programs, associate dean in the School of Architecture, and co-chair of the Abess Center Ecosystem Science and Policy Faculty Advisory Board. He initiated the first National Science Foundation Hurricane Hazard Research Conference after Hurricane Andrew, edited Hurricane Hazard Mitigation, and participated in the Mississippi Renewal Forum Charrette after Hurricane Katrina, in addition to the Mississippi AIA Mississippi Building Code Workshop, the 2010 Haiti Charrette, and subsequent work in Haiti with colleagues in Partner in Health. He currently advises on lightweight structures, hazard-mitigation building codes, and community resilience.
Derek Hill is as a graduate architectural design student at the University of Florida, where his unrelenting pursuit of the best possible product has informed his professional and personal growth and success. Detail and craft are the primary components of focus through all facets of his work. They have enabled him to develop a strong foundation in fabrication, both physically and digitally. With his knowledge of an extensive repertoire of digital programs, he can effectively translate ideas into well-defined visual representations. Through rapid prototyping, he is able to effectively translate what is designed on the computer into something that can be physically built. He excels at using representation as a skill in both his professional and educational work. Derek is currently working on his graduate thesis which focuses on creating quick-to-assemble disaster shelters made of thermoformed panels.
Peter Jenkins is an interdisciplinary urban policy professional with experience in energy, transportation, and sustainability. As a Program Manager with 100 Resilient Cities, Peter supports several US cities with the development and implementation of comprehensive urban resilience strategies. Previously, Peter worked for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, where he managed an agency-wide strategic risk management program and coordinated post-Superstorm Sandy recovery and resilience projects. Earlier in his career, Peter worked with the Alliance to Save Energy, where he managed energy efficiency education programs in California. Peter holds undergraduate degrees in Politics and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as Master of International Affairs and Master of Science in Urban Planning degrees from Columbia University.
Roderick King is CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation and assistant dean of public health education at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where he is director of the MD/MPH program and holds a faculty appointment in the Department Public Health Sciences, in addition to an appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Disparities Solutions Center. He recently served as chairman of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Minority Health, and he previously served as senior advisor to its Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources, and Services Administration. King’s academic consulting focuses on minority health policy and improving the health of underserved communities through leadership and organizational change to address health disparities, health workforce development, and diversity. In particular, he has worked to improve the health of communities nationally through community organizing and collaborative leadership efforts designed to create aligned actions and measurable results. His cross-sector work with leaders to build healthier communities has made measurable improvements in health outcomes domestically and internationally.
Benjamin Kirtman is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He uses atmosphere-ocean general circulation models to study the predictability and variability of the earth’s climate system. His wide-ranging research aims to understand and quantify the limits of climate predictability from days to decades. Kirtman received his B.S. in applied mathematics from the University of California-San Diego and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland-College Park. Previously, he was a research scientist at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies and a tenured associate professor at George Mason University, and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers. Kirtman is the director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmosphere Studies at the University of Miami and serves as the program director for climate and environmental hazards at the University of Miami’s Center for Computational Science.
Martha Kohen graduated from the University of Cambridge and UDELAR Uruguay in architecture and urban design. Kohen directed the architecture- and urban-design office MKRO in Montevideo and has received national and international awards including the First Prize of the 2004 Sao Paulo Architecture Biennale. Past director of the School of Architecture at the University of Florida, she has lectured internationally, taught graduate and undergraduate studios, directed theses, and conducted funded research on experiential learning, community development, and the urban impacts of sea-level rise. Since 2016, she has directed the Center for Hydro-Generated Urbanism at the College of Design, Construction, and Planning, an international consortium spanning four continents. Kohen is also a member of UNESCO’s Sustainable Urban Quality and Culture Steering and Scientific Committees and a visiting professor at La Sapienza Rome University.
David Letson is professor of Marine Ecosystems & Society at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Letson has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. As an educator and researcher, he promotes economic understanding of coastal and marine resource use. Letson’s research focuses on natural resource economics, with an emphasis on the economics of extreme weather and climatic variations, the value of predictions from the geosciences, and how those predictions are interpreted and used. The over-arching theme of Letson’s research is assessment of weather and climate risk within specific economic, institutional, and technological contexts.
Joanna Lombard, AIA, LEED AP, is an architect and professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture with a joint appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Tulane University and Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a founding member of the University of Miami’s Built Environment Behavior & Health Research Group, working in the area of neighborhood design and health, and is a co-leader of the university team selected as a charter member of the American Institute of Architects’s Design & Health Research Consortium. She works on projects and is the author and co-author of articles, book chapters, and books that include strategies for healthy communities and focus on the intersection of architecture, landscape, and public space.
Marilys R. Nepomechie, FAIA, is an architect, professor of architecture, and associate dean for
strategic initiatives at the Florida International University College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts. Co-director of the UIA-UNESCO Education Commission and Validation Council, she served as national 2015-16 president of ACSA. Her professional and academic projects, focused on urban resilience and on the design of sustainable, affordable housing, and infrastructure, are included in the archives of the National Building Museum. Her work has been honored with over 40 design and research awards, national and international exhibitions, and publications, including support from the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Energy, American Architecture Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Graham Foundation, CINTAS Foundation, International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, and American Institute of Architects. Author of the AIA Guide to Miami | Building Paradise: An Architectural Guide to the Magic City, Nepomechie was co-curator of national and international exhibitions Miami | La Habana: Magic City | Novia del Mar, Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century, The Radical HIVE: Social Housing and Urbanism in Latin America, and La Habana Moderna: 1902-1959.
Juliet Pinto, Ph.D., is the Interim Executive Director and an associate professor in the Department of Journalism + Media in the School of Communication + Journalism. Dr. Pinto studies environmental communication in Spanish- and English-language media. She has developed classes in environmental journalism and communication and has taken students to the Galapagos to report on issues pertaining to resource use and management, as well as taken students 62 feet underwater to film NASA astronauts training at the underwater Aquarius Reef Base in the Florida Keys.
Her award-winning documentary on sea level rise, “South Florida’s Rising Seas,” aired in January 2014 and was repurposed by PBS NewsHour for their national newscast, as well as featured in the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald. As part of the award-winning “Eyes on the Rise” team, she worked on a second documentary, “South Florida’s Rising Seas: Impact,” and participated in the development of the popular “Eyes on the Rise” app.
Dr. Pinto’s research has been published in Science Communication, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Media History, and Communication Law and Policy, among others, and she has won awards in service, research and achievement. A member of the Beta Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Lambda honor society, she earned her doctorate in communication from the University of Miami, her master’s in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Boston University.
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is a Malcolm Matheson Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Miami. She directs the Master of Urban Design program and served as dean from 1996 to 2013. Plater-Zyberk is the co-founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism and current chair of the Florida chapter. She is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, and The New Civic Art: Elements of Town Planning. Continuing a consulting practice with DPZ Partners, she leads teams that design buildings, new and renewing communities, regional plans, and zoning codes. Among many awards she has received are the Richard H. Driehaus Prize and the APA National Planning Award for Best Practice for Miami 21.
Gray Read, associate professor of architecture at Florida International University, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is a registered architect. Her research explores historical practices of urbanism to inform contemporary sustainable and resilient design. Her books address historical urban strategies essential to building a sustainable future, including Modern Architecture in Theater: The Experiments of Art et Action; Architecture as a Performing Art, edited with Marcia Feuerstein; and The Miniature and the Gigantic in Philadelphia Architecture: Essays on Designing the City to Human Scale. Among her most recent projects are a collaboration with FIU students developing design ideas to enhance the quality and sustainability of life in Miami, and a series of community conversations centered on strategies for resilience.
Sonia Succar Rodríguez leads the Cities Program in the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she is focused on implementing key projects with strategic partners to enhance the urban and coastal landscape of Greater Miami. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Sonia led the Everglades Foundation’s first-ever science competition, a multimillion-dollar prize aimed at finding an innovative solution to the global problem of excess phosphorus entering water bodies. Sonia also worked in the public sector for both the City of Miami and the City of Coral Gables, where she implemented several sustainability initiatives to increase the resilience of urban areas to environmental challenges. She began her career as a field engineer for Turner Construction and worked on one of the nation’s largest multi-modal transportation projects, the Miami Intermodal Center. She received her bachelor’s in environmental science and growth management from Rollins College and her master’s in environmental management from Harvard University.
Roberto Rovira is principal of Studio Roberto Rovira, and an associate professor and former chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design at Florida International University. As a landscape architect with a design, engineering, and fine arts background, his teaching, research, and creative work explore the potential of landscape architecture in public space, and the intersection of technology and the natural world. Roberto has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work as an educator and professional, including receiving the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award, one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture. In 2017, he was identified by Architect’s Newspaper as having one of the five most exciting design firms in Miami. He has been lead designer in national and international projects, and his work ranges from environmental installations and competitions to art commissions and landscape architecture projects.
Nancy is a Senior Program Officer with the Institute for Sustainable Communities where she serves as ISC’s primary representative supporting the implementation of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. She works with Compact members, other key stakeholders and other ISC staff in the delivery of several projects to further the Compact’s Regional Climate Action Plan in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties, coordinating mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines.
The Institute for Sustainable Communities works in partnership with the Compact to provide technical, strategic and network support to facilitate rapid progress. This includes working collaboratively with Compact partners and others in the implementation of recommendations within the Compact’s Regional Climate Action Plan and associated implementation strategy; coordinating and facilitating communications and collaboration among the parties to the Compact.
Nancy holds an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago and an MA in Geography from Florida Atlantic University.
Tiffany Troxler is director of Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center, a state-university center that focuses on advancing knowledge, decision-making, and actions toward mitigating the causes and adapting to the effects of sea-level rise. She is a research scientist with expertise in coastal and wetland ecosystem science. Some of her projects include collaborative research that examines the effects of saltwater inundation on Everglades coastal wetlands, monitoring management actions associated with Everglades restoration, and advancing interdisciplinary urban solutions to sea-level rise. She is also collaborating on the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program. She is a co-editor and contributing author on two International Panel on Climate Change methodological reports that guide national greenhouse-gas inventories on land use and land-use change in wetlands. Troxler received her master’s and Ph. D. in biological sciences from Florida International University.
Shahin Vassigh is a Professor of Architecture and the Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development at Florida International University (FIU). She is also, the Co-Director of Structural and Environmental Technologies Lab and the Co-Director of Visualization and Robotics Manufacturing Lab at FIU. Vassigh’s research is focused on sustainable and resilient building design and technology education. She is the recipient of number of federal grants for improving architectural and engineering education using technology mediated environments. She is the author and the lead author of several books including: Interactive Structures: Visualizing Structural Behavior, Best Practices in Sustainable Building Design, and Building Systems Integration for Enhanced Environmental Performance. Vassigh has considerable professional experience working at various consulting engineering firms on projects that range from bridge design and analysis, to large-scale building design and construction. She has a Master’s of Architecture, a Master’s of Urban Planning, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering from University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.
Christopher, is the fourth generation in his family to attend the University of Florida, completing his Bachelors of Design with a concentration in architecture. During this time, he concurrently completed minors in Sustainability in the Built Environment and Urban Planning. His work focuses on urban design and healthcare projects and he has traveled extensively during his time in graduate school, including trips to Singapore, China, parts of East Asia, and the Netherlands. He will complete his concurrent master’s program in May 2018.
Research Summit 2017
Photography by Monica McGivern
In partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and The CLEO Institute, we are excited to announce the 2nd year of Climate Design Lab! The PAID three-week program is looking to engage 20 high school students ages 16 and older in a competition to research, design, and develop forward-thinking
Students will present their ideas to a group of experts from various disciplines, including climate science, climate change education, design, and municipal government at a public awards ceremony at the end of the program.
This year’s Climate Design Lab will run July 1-18, location in Miami to be determined.
The application deadline has been extended to April 26! Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis. Apply today!
Right: Students from the 2018 program learn about climate change at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens / Scott McIntyre
Climate & Design Education & Mentorship
Photos by Scott McIntyre
Awards Ceremony and Project Presentations
Climate Design Lab partners are:
With special thanks to:
Keeping Current: José Martí Park is a design challenge in partnership with the City of Miami. The solicitation sought to identify an interdisciplinary team of architects, engineers, and city makers to develop a replicable climate adaptive schematic design and master plan to reduce flood risk and minimize the impacts of rising sea levels on the park. The city will then manage on-the-ground implementation. The goal is for the solution designed for the park to be adaptable at other locations with similar conditions throughout the South Florida region, considering the following questions: How can we create a new model for adaptive redesign for South Florida? How do we create a park that represents community engagement and stewardship? How can we create places that support well-being?
We are working with city officials to gather community input and are calling on the expertise of our diverse group of project advisors to solicit the best ideas in climate adaptation.
The RFQ is now closed and proposals are under City review.
Photo: Scott McIntyre
About José Martí Park
José Martí Park is a riverfront park that experiences flooding due to sea level rise, a challenge faced by many other similar sites throughout the South Florida region. It is a 13-acre multi-use recreational space located in Little Havana, a vibrant community near Downtown Miami. The park is one of several public and private amenities located along the Miami River, a five-and-half-mile working river.
José Martí Park is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. With little drainage and a topography that tends to trap water, nearly any amount of rain causes parts of the park to flood. It experiences particularly severe flooding during seasonal high tides, heavy rainstorms, and storm surge events. During King Tide, the highest tides of the year, its waterfront edge and parts of the surrounding community are flooded regardless of rainfall. The extent and frequency of these flooding events is expected to increase significantly in the future unless adaptive measures are implemented.
Participatory design is central to our process. The team selected through the RFQ will work with Van Alen and local stakeholders to ensure that the design of this treasured public space will truly serve the needs and desires of the Little Havana community.
The Project Outreach Team is a group of individuals appointed by the city who are knowledgeable about and well-connected in the Little Havana community. Members of the team will receive a stipend for helping to plan, facilitate, and promote local community engagement events to inform the park design project.
Photos from our first event at Jose Marti Park, in celebration of the redesign project, are available here! Images by Angel Valentin and Linda Cheung.
Little Havana and Jose Marti Park site photography by Scott McIntyre
DEADLINE: May 26, 2019
We are excited to announce that the Keeping Current: Repetitive Loss Properties design competition is open!
Van Alen Institute, in collaboration with the City of North Miami, is looking to identify an interdisciplinary team to develop a master plan and pilot project to reimagine public uses for flood-prone vacant lots (formally known as FEMA-designated repetitive loss properties).
This competition asks: How can we design spaces that promote climate-consciousness? How can we reimagine underutilized communal spaces to bring the community together and adapt to climate impacts over time? How can these sites be repurposed to reduce the cost of flood insurance for communities?
Right: Downtown North Miami / Photos by Scott McIntyre
North Miami is one of the most flood-prone communities in Miami-Dade County and local council members want to design and implement climate-adaptive solutions to protect it. Repetitive loss (RL) properties constitute a significant drain on the resources of the National Flood Insurance Program, costing about $200,000,000 annually, and the number of RL properties nationally is expected to account for 25-30% of flood insurance claims. Van Alen and the City of North Miami look to identify strategies to address the social and financial strains RL properties place on communities and government, so that other cities can benefit from the learnings and investment of this competition. This is a national issue, and we are looking to pilot solutions at a local level.
Right: Florida International University (top); Pilot RL site in North Miami (bottom) / Photos by Scott McIntyre
About the Competition
This is a two-phased competition with the chance to win a total of $85,000.
Three finalist teams will be selected and announced in June. Finalists will receive $5,000 (award and travel stipend). Finalists will join us in North Miami for a three-day program in early July featuring tours and discussions with the community. During these three days, the finalist teams will be asked to develop a high-level proposal for activation of a razed RL site. The proposals will be presented to our jury and a winner will be selected later in the month.
The winning team will have have five months to develop a master plan for RL sites in North Miami and to design and implement a pilot activation for one site in North Miami. The winning team will be awarded $80,000 (master plan development, design, and construction).
Questions? Contact Kokei Otosi, Project Manager, at email@example.com.
About the Pilot Site
The RL site for the pilot project is located at: 901 Northeast 144th Street, North Miami. The site is 18,101.81 SF and is in a residential neighborhood, adjacent to three single-family residences and a street.
Release Date / April 25
Competition Deadline / May 26
Finalists Notified / Mid-June
Design Workshop Series / Week of July 8
Winner Notified / Mid-July
Participatory Design Development / August – September
Implementation / October – December
Pilot Project Ribbon-Cutting / Early December
About the Jury
The jury, comprised of local and national leaders in climate change, design, and community engagement, will play a critical role in selecting finalist and winning teams, and in helping to shape their concepts.
Jessica Lax is an urbanist and activist driving social equity and inclusion through design, economic development, and community engagement. Prior to joining Van Alen Institute, Jessica worked at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she launched the NYC’s first vacant lot activation projects and low-income entrepreneurship incubator. She also worked for the NYC Department of Transportation, where she implemented Queens’ first neighborhood bicycle network and initiated in the redesign of Queens Blvd, previously one of the most dangerous boulevards in the world. Jessica received her Master of Urban Planning with honors from Hunter College and acknowledgment from the American Planning Association. She received her Bachelors in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan.
Germane Barnes is the Director of Studio Barnes, a testing ground for the physical and theoretical investigations of architecture’s social and political agency. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international publications and institutions. Most notably, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, The New York Times, DesignMIAMI/ Art Basel, Architect Magazine and The National Museum of African American History, where he was identified as a member of black design professionals Reshifting the Landscape, challenging the status quo in architecture and urbanism.
Debbie Love is a certified planner with over 30 years of experience in urban design, land use planning and development. She has served as Project Manager/Primary Author of a wide variety of planning initiatives throughout Florida, including regional, city-wide and neighborhood master plans; comprehensive plans; land development code rewrites; water supply plans; sector plans; waterfront revitalization; resiliency and sustainability plans; housing plans; floodplain and hazard mitigation strategies; and CRA plans. Ms. Love is also a certified public facilitator and conflict management specialist.
Akin Ozaydin is a engineer with the City of North Miami’s Public Works department.
Jennifer Bolstad is a landscape architect, an educator and a community organizer for social and environmental justice. Together with Walter Meyer, she is co-founder of Local Office Landscape and Urban Design, based in Brooklyn, New York. She teaches at Parsons/The New School for Design and holds degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research and practice concentration is coastal landscapes at all scales, operating between infrastructure, urbanism and ecology. Bolstad’s ecology-driven design work starts with modeling vulnerabilities – both atmospheric, such as storm surge, and anthropogenic, such as economic crisis – and exploring infrastructural solutions that offer multiple benefits. Once implemented, these projects provide performance metrics that can inform cost-benefit models and policy change.
Marta also serves on several boards including Transit Alliance Miami and the Miami Downtown Development Authority, and is a graduate of The Miami Foundation’s Miami Fellows program, Class IX.
Marta holds a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning and has a background in biology and scientific research. She lives in Downtown Miami with her husband and two daughters. Through her various roles, Marta is committed to Miami’s healthy, resilient and prosperous development.
Jeremy has been working with BIG since the establishment of its New York office in 2010, and brings a focus on issues of urbanism, landscape, infrastructure, and climate change adaptation. Jeremy led the BIG team in its winning “Big U” proposal for the federal Rebuild by Design competition, and now leads urban design of the subsequent East Side Coastal Resiliency project, as well as the studio’s broader resiliency efforts for public and institutional clients including the City of New York, Rockefeller Foundation, UN-Habitat, Google, and the University of California. Jeremy is a Forefront Fellow with the Urban Design Forum, and lectures frequently on issues of resilient design and planning. He has taught at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Parsons School of Constructed Environments.
Dr. Obeysekera served as a member of the federal advisory committee which directed the development of the National Climate Assessment in 2014. He was also a co-author of the sea level rise projections report published by NOAA for the National Climate Assessment and a lead author for the Southeast Chapter of the National Climate Assessment. Dr. Obeysekera also served as a member of the Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group associated with the Department of Defense in the United States. Dr. Obeysekera holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from University of Sri Lanka, M. Eng. from University of Roorkee, India, and a Ph.D. in Civil ngineering from Colorado State University with specialization in water resources. Dr. Obeysekera has published over 55 research articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Obeysekera is a recipient of the 2015 Norman Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers for a technical paper that makes a definitive contribution in engineering.
Right: Museum of Contemporary Art / Photo by Scott McIntyre
Participatory design is central to our process. The team selected through the design solicitation will work with Van Alen, our collaborator Urban Impact Lab, and local stakeholders, to ensure that the design of this treasured public space will truly serve the needs and desires of the North Miami community.
Community members: please share you perspectives about the types of things you’d like to see in your community by completing this survey!
The Project Outreach Team is a group of individuals who are knowledgeable of and well-connected in the community. Members of the team receive a stipend to help plan, facilitate, and promote local community engagement events to inform the design project. Current members are:
We are planning a public-facing exhibition for December 2019. This event will feature ideas and solutions to climate adaptation for the community, including those developed through the Keeping Current design challenges.
We are planning a regional convening to share lessons learned and identify opportunities for enlisting communities in the effort to build a more resilient future for December 2019. In this convening, we’ll explore municipal procurement and community engagement opportunities to advance the work of climate adaptation.
We can’t do this project alone, and we are incredibly grateful to have the following individuals advise us on the project’s development:
Christina DeConcini is World Research Institute’s Director of Government Affairs. DeConcini is an attorney and advocate committed to achieving policy change through litigation, designing and directing legislative strategies, forging diverse and effective coalitions, and framing and advancing issues for public support. She has focused primarily on overseeing WRI’s legislative work and strategy on climate change and energy issues, engagement with the U.S. administration on these issues, and leading WRI’s climate-impacts work. Previously, DeConcini spent 20 years advocating for the rights of immigrants and refugees, serving as director of policy and advocacy in national organizations seeking changes in federal immigration laws, providing representation to indigent immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, and improving conditions of detention for immigrants. She has written and spoken frequently on issues related to immigration and refugee policies, taught immigration law, served on a number of boards, and been recognized for her work in this field. DeConcini has a law degree from Northeastern University in Boston, MA and an undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego.
David Martin is president of Miami-based real-estate development firm Terra, leading some of South Florida’s most impactful developments in neighborhoods like Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Doral, and Weston., Martin has enlisted some of the world’s top architects to design his projects, such as the Bjarke Ingels-designed Grove at Grand Bay and the Rem Koolhaas/ OMA-designed Park Grove, two new luxury condos in Coconut Grove. Eighty Seven Park, Terra’s newest project in North Beach, will be a 70-unit beachfront condo designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano. Terra is also developing the Modern and Neovita communities in Doral, as well as Botaniko in Weston, a master-planned community designed by Chad Oppenheim and Roney Mateu. Martin’s strong commitment to South Florida is underscored by the company’s active role in charitable, civic, arts, and cultural organizations. With a unique interest in education, the arts, and health foundations, Martin is actively involved in South Florida’s civic and business communities.
Caroline Lewis previously served as a passionate and dedicated science teacher and school principal for 22 years before joining the Botanic Garden, where she created the Fairchild Challenge. Since 2010, Lewis has been the founder and executive director of the non-profit CLEO Institute, based in Miami, Florida. She works with scientists, business and elected leaders, students, teachers, and the community to promote climate literacy, leadership, and informed advocacy, bridging between supporters of climate science and climate justice to amplify the urgency of immediate action. In 2013, Lewis was one of twelve individuals recognized as a White House Climate Resilience Champion of Change. She also authored Just Back Off and LET US TEACH, a book for effective teachers and those who champion them.
Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher, climate-change expert and environmental-justice advocate. A Guatemalan immigrant of Cuban heritage, Hernandez Hammer works to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color across the U.S. Most recently, Hernandez Hammer served as a climate-science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She was the Florida field manager for Moms Clean Air Force. Previously, she was assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, and coordinated the Florida Climate Institute’s state university consortium. She has co-authored a series of technical papers on projections and preparedness for sea-level rise. Her activism and initiative on climate change earned her an invitation from First Lady Michelle Obama as her special guest at the 2015 State of the Union address. Hernandez Hammer has been featured frequently on local and national media, including The Miami Herald, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Telemundo.
Jayantha Obeysekera served as chief modeler at the South Florida Water Management District as technical lead for climate-change and sea-level-rise issues. He served as a member of the federal advisory committee directing the development of the National Climate Assessment in 2014 and was a lead author for its Southeast Chapter. Obeysekera also served as a member of the Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group associated with the U.S. Department of Defense. He was also a co-author of the Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for United States report published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2017. Obeysekera holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Sri Lanka, an M. Eng. from University of Roorkee, India, and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Colorado State University with specialization in water resources. Currently he serves as an affiliate research professor at Florida Atlantic University. He has served a member of several committees of the U.S. National Academy of Science covering major water resources projects in Oregon, California, and Texas.
Jesse M. Keenan is a faculty member at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he serves as area head and director of real estate and the built environment. Keenan’s principle research focus is on climate change and the built environment, including aspects of design, engineering, and financing. Keenan has previously advised on matters concerning the built environment for agencies of the U.S. Government, Fortune 500 Companies, community enterprises, and international NGOs. In conjunction with the federal government, Keenan serves as chair of the U.S. Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, review editor of the Built Environment and Transportation chapters of the 4th National Climate Assessment, and editorial co-lead for the Built Environment at the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit at climate.gov. Keenan’s research in the built environment has partnered with a variety of global actors, including the American Institute of Architects, Audi, Carnegie Corporation, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hulic Co., Ltd., ICC, MoMA, Mori Foundation, Lennar Foundation, NASA, Open Society Foundation, Regional Plan Association, Rockefeller Foundation, the State of California, and the U.N. Keenan is the author of NYC 2040: Housing the Next One Million New Yorkers and co-editor of Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design and Climate Change Adaptation in North America: Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices. Keenan holds degrees in the law (J.D., LL.M.) and science of the built environment (M.Sc.), including a Ph.D. in applied climate science and the built environment from Delft University of Technology.
A Project by Van Alen Institute
At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross disciplinary research, provocative public programs and inventive design competitions.
Through our projects in some of the most vulnerable areas on the planet, we’ve witnessed the devastating effects of climate change and sea-level rise. We’ve also observed firsthand the willingness–and even enthusiasm–achieved when communities come together to develop creative solutions for protecting their cities. It is this enthusiasm and willingness to stimulate change that brought us to South Florida.
Keeping Current is spearheaded by Van Alen Institute, and is part of our broader inquiry into how communities are impacted by climate change, and how community engagement practices can be redefined, also explored in such initiatives as: Shore to Core, a design and research competition to reimagine downtown West Palm Beach as a dynamic, resilient waterfront city; Crossroads Conversations, a public program series that invites passersby from all walks of life and political convictions to engage in thoughtful dialogue on some of the most pressing issues of our time in iconic public spaces; and Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address the structural and environmental vulnerabilities that Hurricane Sandy exposed in communities throughout the region and developing fundable solutions to better protect residents from future climate events.
For press information, please contact Kokei Otosi, Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212 924 7000 x 33.
The press release can be found here.
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million and made 14 social-investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.
Since 1967, The Miami Foundation has used civic leadership, community investment and philanthropy to improve the quality of life for everyone who calls Greater Miami home. We partner with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 1,000 personalized, philanthropic Funds. Thanks to them, we have awarded over $250 million in grants and currently manage more than $300 million in assets to build a better Miami. As the Foundation marks our 50th anniversary, we are celebrating great Miamians who have championed what matters to them, encouraging all residents to share their Miami stories and unite around the causes they care about.
Keeping Current is sponsored by Target.
Terra is an integrated development firm in South Florida focused on creating sustainable, design-oriented communities that enhance neighborhoods and bring people together.