Adaptation (work in progress)

The unpredictable nature of climate change and the varied impact that it will have in different regions means that the ability to flexibly adapt will be important for our long-term survival. The terms climate change and global warming are often used interchangeably. Global warming, however, does not adequately describe the complex problems associated with climate change because it limits the discussion of the environmental crisis to increasing temperatures.  The most pressing problems for the built environment are consequences that flow from escalating temperature variation.  In a recent interview with the American Society of Landscape Architects, ASLA, Kristina Hill argued that “(c)ities need to recognize that it’s not about planning for an average of 2-10 degrees warmer summers; it’s the new extremes in rainfall, flooding, drought, and the duration of heat waves that will really challenge our infrastructure and affect our lives.” (Hill, Managing the Effects of Climate Change 2010) In re-imagining the infrastructure of our cities, an important first step is to begin a broader discussion on effective methods for confronting the potential impacts of climate change. Within each city, communities should work to identify the biggest threats from climate change and work towards developing methods for mitigating those issues.

With the intensification of environmental stress caused by either higher or lower precipitation levels, improving the overall function of water systems should be an essential component of sustainable design.  An integrated, ecological approach to urban water systems will require innovative interventions at multiple scales in urban communities.    Another critical issue in stormwater management is determining the highest functional priorities for the design.  The design of urban water systems can be designed to mitigate dynamic fluctuation in water levels or to improve overall water quality.   Ideally stormwater management designs would be able to mitigate fluctuating water levelsand water quality issues.  Unfortunately, insufficient funding can limit the scope of the design.

In New Orleans the development and maintenance of water management strategies are essential to the function of the city and its survival.  In the community of St. Roch more intense storms with higher precipitation levels will result in debilitating flooding levels that will impede the function of the community.  With the increasing threats from climate change St. Roch and the city of New Orleans should explore a framework for living that makes space for stormwater without compromising the safety of the residence.  Using the community of St. Roch as the site for the exploration, the thesis will explore methods for incorporating dynamic hydrologic fluctuations within the framework of a shrinking city.  Shrinking cities are characterized by an abundance of available parcels as a result of declining population levels.  The dispersed network of city owned properties provides the opportunity to develop a decentralized water network that can be integrated into the existing city infrastructure. The thesis will explore ways of aggregating available, underutilized parcels in St. Roch to create a large scale water management system.

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