BLOG POST : September 21, 2017

Resilient Design On View

The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum welcomes you to the opening of Resilient Design in Boston: Solutions for Our Changing Landscape.

Produced with the generous assistance of the City of Boston Planning & Development Agency, the panels presented in the Overlook Gallery highlight the best in design and landscape planning made in response to the impact of climate change in Boston. These are the winning entries for the categories of Building, Neighborhood, and Infrastructure from the 2015 Boston Living with Water competition convened by the City. These proposals focus on three representative seaport neighborhoods whose location (the North End, the Fort Point Channel District, and the Columbia Point peninsula) would be affected by the rising Atlantic Ocean. The goal of the competition? A beautiful, sustainable waterfront.

More than 50 participating teams from Greater Boston and across the globe contributed designs for one or more of the three locations. These proposals addressed the immediate effect of climate change on thousands of buildings, residences, and infrastructure elements that circle Boston Harbor. Uniting these design studies is the central question: How can design address the effects of a rapidly changing climate in coastal communities?

The proposals answer this question by reaffirming the benefits of an iterative, community-based approach. Such investments in time and planning anticipate the detrimental effects of a warming climate with rising ocean levels and converge on flexible, adaptive strategies that work for resident populations. As a densely populated urban center, Boston is situated along a low, fragile coastline that – with rising seas – is subject to substantial erosion and catastrophic storm flooding. All of these changes have the potential to damage or destroy the homes, buildings, bridges, and tunnels that link our social networks and local economies.

In response, the Boston Living with Water competition generated thoughtful solutions to these potential problems. Throughout this exhibit, the proposals address five key issues that influenced the final designs. These issues include methods for rapid, cost-effective recovery from destructive natural events; the development of dual-purpose solutions that fit both socio-economic and ecological considerations; reinforcement of the community and its social support systems; the coordinated development of preparedness approaches with institutional and community stakeholders; and finally, phased implementation of flexible design solutions that respond creatively to changing conditions. The insights captured by these entries are simultaneously instructive and innovative, demonstrating again the value of such a smart approach to design.

Hosting the winners from the 2015 competition is a natural fit for the Waterworks Museum. As an organization with deep ties to the history of Boston’s built environment, and to its abundant water resources, the Museum is pleased to partner with the City of Boston and the Boston Planning & Development Agency to celebrate these proposals with our community.

Please join us in the Overlook Gallery, where you can see the fascinating designs that have been created to consider one of our area’s most pressing issues. We also hope that you will add your own thoughts and comments to our participatory wall — Resilient Design: What Is Your Solution? — about what will occur if sea levels continue to rise.

Suanna Crowley

Manager, Outreach & Development

Current Exhibit