Instructor: Maryam Hariri
Coastal cities, with their concentration of people, infrastructure, and economic activity, are facing unprecedented risks from climate change related natural disasters. With sea level rise, storms and extreme rainfall events projected to become more frequent and intense, vulnerability to flooding is increasing in neighborhoods both on the waterfront and in upland communities. Cities around the world have responded by adopting a variety of “climate-proofing” strategies that focus on building smarter, stronger and/or higher infrastructure and protection systems. Yet, engineering solutions focus to heavily on reducing short-term risks, with little consideration for existing communities and integrated benefits.
The purpose of this capstone is to expand the consideration given to the social infrastructure in the context of climate change resiliency. It will ask: How can the social character and infrastructure of our neighborhoods make us more (or less) resilient to climate change related extreme weather events? More broadly, how does the built-social-ecological environment impact our lives? How can sound urban planning, and innovative urban design, promote social connections, interactions, relationships? How do we support the “sticky” networks that make communities more resilient during a disaster and also resilient to everyday challenges? Exploring these questions (and more) is the central focus of this course.
Using New York City and the events of Hurricane Sandy as our primary case study, we will spend the semester assessing the state of knowledge on “resiliency”, studying existing assets and vulnerability in neighborhoods, and analyzing how certain urban assets (or combination of assets) and conditions can hinder or spur resiliency in coastal cities and communities in an era of increased risk and vulnerability to climate change threats. We will be building on foundational work carried by Jane Jacobs on cities, by Gilbert White on flood risk management, by Eric Klineberg and Robert Sampson social infrastructure, among others. We will aim to better understand how neighborhoods with comfortable and secure streets, sidewalks, parks, plazas and other gathering places that draw people out of their homes and into the public, are not only more likely to be resilient during a disaster, but promote health and prosperity in everyday life.
Watch the capstone presentation on YouTube.