|“The six winning entries really begin to tell the story of adaptation to sea level rise.”|
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
New and innovative ideas are needed to help communities adapt and respond to sea level rise resulting from climate change. To help generate these ideas, coastal resource managers in California held an international design competition for projects that address sea level rise in San Francisco Bay.
“The goal was to move the discussion forward with regard to what the bay might look like in the future,” says Brad McCrea, design analyst for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which sponsored the competition. “We thought a design competition would be a great way to generate new ideas for building along the shoreline.”
The Rising Tides competition resulted in six first-place awards for ideas ranging from generating public awareness by using laser beams to create a temporary wall of light in San Francisco Bay where levees would be needed, to mechanically managing tides with a “ventilated” levee.
“There are ideas embedded in each of these that have potential for future planning,” notes McCrea. “This really energized the design community and provided a way for them to join the discussion about sea level rise.”
Eight Inches High and Rising
At the Golden Gate Bridge sits one of the oldest tide gauges in the U.S., which has shown that over the last 150 years San Francisco Bay has risen eight inches. The state is anticipating an additional rise of 16 inches by 2050.
“Forty years from now, the bay will be about a foot and a half higher,” McCrea says. “Over 90 years from now, we expect San Francisco Bay to be about four and a half feet higher.”
He adds, “We know the bay is going to rise, and we want to plan for a future when the bay is higher. . . Lots of people are working on policy and planning and education around this issue, but one of the voices that didn’t have a forum was the design community.”
On a Shoestring
With a $125,000 section 309 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, BCDC hired a competition advisor, who helped the agency create signature graphics, devise the competition website, and spread the news around the world through the Internet.
Several companies and organizations stepped in to provide services at cost or for free.
“We did this on a shoestring,” McCrea says. “It easily could have cost double what we spent. People came out of the woodwork and provided support services for next to nothing.”
Responses from All Over
After the June 29 deadline, BCDC received 130 entries from 18 countries. Of the entries from the U.S., nearly half were from the East Coast and half were from the West Coast.
“We said you could design at any scale for any type of project, as long as it was relative to the San Francisco Bay estuarine environment,” McCrea says.
A five-member jury for the competition included a professor of architecture and urban design from New York, a professor of landscape architecture from Berkeley, California, a geomorphologist and researcher on how coastal marshes keep pace with sea-level rise from New Orleans, Louisiana, and a coastal engineer and a journalist from Holland.
While the rules called for a $15,000 grand prize, with another $10,000 awarded as the jury saw fit, after a day of deliberations the jury instead divided the money equally among six winners.
“The six winning entries really begin to tell the story of adaptation to sea level rise,” says McCrea.
Even though the entries were anonymous, it turned out that five of the six winners were from the San Francisco Bay area.
An exhibition of all 130 of the Rising Tides competition entries was put on public display in San Francisco. The winners can be viewed on-line at www.risingtidescompetition.com.
“We are thrilled,” McCrea says, “not only at the way the competition turned out, but at the enthusiasm and excitement it’s generated within the planning world, the coastal management world, and the design world.”
He adds, “We have found that there are a great deal of ideas behind the ideas. We look forward to exploring deeper into the design concepts and sharing what we find.”