2018 National Planning Conference

After Resilience Competitions: Lessons from RBD

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198004

Location: 2001

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  • Gain perspective on the difficulties of multisectoral planning for long-term climate adaptation in risk-prone cities.
  • Explore opportunities for intercity collaboration around shared issues of coping with environmental shocks and their afterlives.
  • Learn from the framework of design competitions as a platform for cities to begin addressing and implementing comprehensive resilience plans.


Following Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York, BIG and ONE collaborated on the winning Rebuild By Design (2014-15) proposal, the BIG U. Two of its components are now moving forward into implementation: the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project and the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project.

The Rebuild By Design competition is serving as a benchmark for retrospection, taking stock of the competition’s on-the-ground impact in communities, in the design studio, and on city hall. As these component projects of the BIG U have matured over the past half a decade, efforts on implementability and collaboration have been rethought, intimately informing the approach to the competition’s second iteration in San Francisco.

For the past year, BIG + ONE + Sherwood have worked in Islais Creek, a historic watershed in southeastern San Francisco, for the Resilient By Design: Bay Area Challenge (2017-18). The resultant design, Islais Hyper-Creek, weaves together industry and ecology in a day-lit creek bringing development and urban density to its fringes, doubling as a connected series of public waterfront parks.

In this second version, the internal mandate steered toward creating a network of support to bring the plan into reality. At the final presentation, officials from the Port, Planning, and community partners declared public support to incorporate the designs into future efforts. In this panel, they discuss next steps and lessons learned.

Designers from ONE, BIG, and Sherwood join city agencies to discuss the afterlives of design competitions focused on climate change, adaptation, and resilience. They explore the importance of ushering the plans and ideas generated into on-the-ground, measurable impact. Understanding the different conditions from which the competitions arose, and learning from the work for RBD-NY and the subsequent implementation challenges, One Architecture & Urbanism (ONE) and BIG approached RBD-SF differently than the earlier competition. The result is a different type of plan and a different relationship to the various actors therein.

Get insight on the difficult transition: taking competition designs off the bookshelf and working to build and sustain multisectoral relationships and practices necessary to guide coastal cities toward a more resilient future.

This course is approved to offer 1.25 LUs (AIA).

Session Speakers

Carrie Grassi
NYC Mayor's Office of Resiliency
New York, NY

Jeremy A. Siegel, AICP
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
New York, NY

Matthijs Bouw
One Architecture & Urbanism (ONE)

Sherwood B. Sarte
San Francisco, CA

John S. Rahaim
City and County of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA