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The Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Program Overview

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

As flood risks increase due to intensified severe storms and sea level rise, organizers of the Bay Area Challenge asked the question - can the Bay Area come together to shift its course and build a more resilient region before a big disaster hits, and can we address other regional challenges along the way?

The premise of the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge (RbD) was both simple and audacious. As flood risks increase due to intensified severe storms and sea level rise, organizers asked the question - can the Bay Area come together to shift its course and build a more resilient region before a big disaster hits, and can we address other regional challenges along the way?

The exchange of knowledge, relationships built, and ideas generated by the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge have inspired, activated, and informed individuals and institutions throughout the region to take seriously the threat of climate change. The regional momentum generated will continue on as communities work together to build resilience, implement Resilient by Design projects and address sea level rise and climate change impacts around San Francisco Bay. However, the work to take on such an enormous challenge is just beginning.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Resilient by Design has recently released a book that describes the Bay Area Challenge process - download a free copy here.

Program Origins

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

In 2016, the Bay Area passed a groundbreaking ballot initiative to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for wetland and habitat restoration, flood control and public access along the shoreline.

Over 70% of Bay Area voters voted in favor of the Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Measure (or Measure AA) to tax themselves in order to contribute to the health and preservation of San Francisco Bay. Communities in the Bay Area were willing to proactively invest to preserve our natural assets for future generations.

Parallel to this effort, a group of forward-thinking regional leaders had been working since 2015 to develop a plan for a proactive regional design challenge modeled after Rebuild by Design. The resilience plans developed in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities effort identified a need for greater regional collaboration to address climate adaptation - despite the looming threat of climate change, there was no comprehensive regional plan to deal with the sea level in the Bay Area.

The unique hydrology of the Bay warranted the type of collaboration the design challenge could facilitate, as shoreline protections in one area of the Bay could increase sea levels or wave action in another. Collaboration on this scale could help illuminate the need for each county to consider the impacts of their decisions on the other communities that share the shoreline. With hundreds of jurisdictions and countless communities sharing the shoreline, there was ample need to catalyze and inspire collaboration.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Objectives

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Rather than wait for a natural disaster, the San Francisco Bay Area is proactively reimagining a better future by creating a blueprint for resilience that harnesses Bay Area innovation and serves as a model for communities around the world.

In support of this agenda, the Bay Area Challenge had several fundamental goals:

  • Combine implementable and creative design-driven ideas with technical expertise;
  • Reflect rigorous research and a strong understanding of ecosystems, local community, and government challenges;
  • Inspire collaboration, connection, and coordination across the region; and
  • Prepare communities for the future by addressing ecological, economic, and social vulnerabilities that exist today.

Sources: Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge Assessment Report (Consensus Building Institute)

Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Funding

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The commitment of regional leaders to an innovative, proactive climate adaptation design challenge along with the willingness of Bay Area voters to proactively fund San Francisco Bay restoration inspired the Rockefeller Foundation to provide a foundational grant in the amount of $5 million to launch the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge in early 2017.

Learn more about the Rockefeller Foundation’s contribution to the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Phase 1: Launch

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The premise of the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge was to connect internationally renowned experts with local communities to inspire innovation and catalyze designs, ideas and collaboration toward a more resilient future.

To achieve that, the Challenge launched on May 31, 2017 with an open call for Design Teams to participate in the challenge and an open call for site ideas - which asked community members, government staff and regional experts to identify places around the Bay that are vulnerable to flood risk and that could benefit from a collaborative, multi-benefit, multi-disciplinary design process.

In September of 2017, the Jury announced the 10 teams selected to a crowd of hundreds at a kick-off event overlooking San Francisco Bay along the Richmond shoreline. The Design Team members represented significant local talent as well as representatives from all over the US and around the world. Water managers and engineers from places as far as the Netherlands and Australia would work alongside designers and community organizers from across the region.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Phase 2: Collaborative Research

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Building resilience requires a different kind of thinking.

Often the goal in addressing big challenges is to narrow the scope of an issue enough to find a discrete solution. In this challenge however, Design Teams were asked to expand the scope of sea level rise beyond flood mitigation. The Collaborative Research Phase allowed Design Teams to learn about the unique assets and challenges in the Bay before making assumptions about the problems they should be solving for.

The five-month program familiarized Design Teams with the Bay Area’s unique regional context and built a shared understanding of communities and ecosystems in the bay. New connections were forged between practitioners and experts across fields as teams engaged in tours, discussions, and talks led by Bay Area experts and community leaders. Teams grappled with issues from wetland loss and sediment flow, to housing access and wastewater treatment.

The tour weeks were guided by Resilient by Design guiding principles and planned in partnership with dozens of organizations and agencies. This phase gave the designers a stronger foundation to assess multi-dimensional problems as they moved into the design phase.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Phase 3: Collaborative Design

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The Collaborative Design phase kicked off in January 2018, with community meetings and the formation of local advisory groups in each project area.

This phase was an opportunity for designers to dive deeper into site-specific challenges and co-create solutions with local jurisdictions and communities. Through outreach events, community meetings, and creative engagement tactics, Design Teams learned from communities and shared their own expertise. Advisory groups in each county included relevant stakeholders such as local elected officials and city staff, regional park and open space districts, environmental justice leaders, flood managers, ecologists, community members, and advocacy organizations.

In May of 2018, at the close of the collaborative design phase, each team presented their final designs to the Resilient by Design Jury and the public at a daylong event at the SF Jazz Center. Each team presented alongside the local stakeholders and community leaders who had been engaged in the Collaborative Design Phase.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge