Last week, nine finalists across three categories—building, neighborhood, and infrastructure—were selected to move on in the Boston Living with Water competition.
The competition, which kicked off in October of last year—marking two years since Hurricane Sandy—will culminate with the award of a $20,000 grand prize funded by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management and the Barr Foundation.
This competition asks for creative approaches for planning for a not-so-distant future Boston where higher sea levels and more frequent flooding will be real and critical issues to contend with. Looking at the projected sea level rise as a planning and design opportunity for Boston's built environment, fifty teams, of roughly 350 individuals, from eight countries participated.
From Mayor Martin J. Walsh's perspective, the initiative has been a great success. "We issued an ambitious challenge through the Boston Living with water competition, and I'm pleased that we received equally ambitious responses," says the mayor. "It's difficult to imagine what the world will look like in the year 2100, but we know for certain that now is the time to prepare for sea level rise. The proposals that came in from around the world demonstrate that a more resilient, sustainable, and beautiful future is within our reach if we work together."
The initiative was launched by the City of Boston, The Boston Harbor Association, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), and the Boston Society of Architects. Sasaki Principal, Jason Hellendrung, ASLA, is a juror, alongside BRA planning director Kairos Shen; Matt Noblett, principal at Behnisch Architekten; land use attorney Matthew Kiefer of Goulston & Storrs; Marggie Lackner, deputy director of design for the MBTA; and Judith Nitsch, founder of Nitsch Engineering. Joining jurors, Austin Blackmon, the City of Boston's new Chief of Environment was on hand to make remarks at the finalist selection event and celebration.
Upon wrapping this first round of the competition, Jason remarks, "it's exciting to see the momentum building in Boston to prepare for a future that is more resilient to sea level rise. From The Boston Harbor Association'sPreparing for the Rise Tide report, the Sea Change: Boston exhibit, theDesigning with Water report, and ULI's Boston Living with Water report, what's most exciting is seeing each of these efforts building off one another."
Boston is clearly invested in its future, pulling design, research, and government together to anticipate what most studies say will be a considerably wetter century ahead. Jason, with the other competition jurors, look forward to seeing how the concepts evolve in the next round of the competition.
To learn more about some of the most successful design concepts entered in the Boston Living with Water competition, click here.