It takes more than money to fund resilience

Resilient design, much like all projects in the built environment, requires funding.  

September 04, 2018 |
Perkins+Will’s Ideas + Buildings

As our firm’s Research Knowledge Manager, I am always seeking to learn more about how to prepare for a resilient future. I recently attended a workshop at the Bay Area Metro Center on resilient design, broadly defined as the intentional design of buildings and communities for survival, recovery, and stability in the face of climate change. The conference room brimmed with concerned citizens, civil servants, finance experts and urbanists eager to learn about the intersection of resilience and finance.  Crowding around a table, I became acutely aware of the charge in the air. Attendees were hungry for resources, partnerships, and knowledge. At a quick glance, the workshop educated participants about how to fund resilient design. But upon deeper reflection, it also revealed a growing movement that champions interdisciplinary actions and rewards diverse project teams.

This gathering offered an opportunity to check in and understand the current baseline, and also explored how the design community can contribute to this global movement. While discussion focused on specific California projects and funding sources, the lessons showcased universal applicability.  With extreme events on the rise and as we barrel toward a “Hothouse Earth”, more money is being allocated for disaster mitigation and adaptation efforts. From Federal resources like HUD’s recent grant announcement of $28 billion to support long-term disaster recovery in nine states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to state and regional efforts like California’s Prop 68 and the Bay Area’s Regional Measure 3, a large pool of public money is becoming available to help fund resilience efforts.  This is further supplemented by the burgeoning number of private financing mechanisms.

The workshop reinforced the idea that funding exists, but participants also learned that gaining access may be shrouded in complex bureaucracy and policy. To distill the simple from the complex, Shalini Vajjhala of re:focus partners offered this salient advice: “ask who loses money or who is impacted if the project does not happen.”  She also suggested that design teams should look for beneficiaries that double as a funding source, which has the added bonus of initiating nontraditional business relationships. I viewed this as encouragement to connect the dots, even when the dots live on different geometric planes.

Resilient design, much like all projects in the built environment, requires funding.  Furthermore, it uniquely demands collaborative relationships and cutting-edge research, something the Perkins+Will community is well-equipped to tackle. Last fall, the RELi project rating system was adopted by the USGBC as their official resilient design standard. Perkins+Will was integral to creating this system and, not coincidentally, Perkins+Will is home to the world’s first RELi Accredited Professionals. RELi emboldens design teams to take a panoramic approach, consider risk adaptation and hazard preparedness, and design for community cohesion. As such, our designers proactively approach project discussions from a holistic framework that seeks to integrate expertise from many perspectives.

Complementary to this holistic design approach is our mission of shaping practice-informed research for a research-informed practice.  Our nine research labs examine a broad spectrum of topics related to the built environment, from how humans experience their surroundings to the future of urban mobility to the latest advances in building technology.  With research and curiosity already being a part of Perkins+Will’s DNA, we’re even better positioned to “connect the dots” for resilient design projects.  I left the Bay Area Metro Center that day imbued with both urgency and relief that we’ve already joined the movement.

Perkins+Will’s Ideas + Buildings | Perkins+Will

Perkins+Will is a firm of remarkable people who are driven by discovery – through their relationships, research, and design. In the simplest sense, our ideas are the precursors for all of our design work. Ideas + Buildings, Perkins+Will’s blog, features emerging thought leadership from across the firm, inviting an even greater global dialog around learning, wellness, workplace, sustainability, and everything in between. Visit the blog at: http://blog.perkinswill.com.

Related Blogs

August 13, 2018 | Office Building Design | Perkins+WillChristine Dansereau

A study found that contrary to popular belief, the open office did not encourage—but rather, inhibited...

April 13, 2018 | Virtual Reality | Perkins+WillYanel De Angel

There’s no question that, as opposed to a top-down process, an open process is best for an office like ours...

March 22, 2018 | Architects | Perkins+WillBreeze Glazer

Achieving integrated design usually means operating under a strong relationship. 

How to solve the housing crunch on college campuses

Pictured: The efficiency unit design for the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (left); research prototype by Perkins+Will (right)

March 14, 2018 | Multifamily Housing | Perkins+WillDavid Damon and John Long, Principals, Perkins+Will

A growing number of public and private academic institutions are turning to designers and architects for al...

February 23, 2018 | Office Building Design | Perkins+Will Yukari Yamahiro

Evidence shows that companies that hire on or emphasize cultural fit struggle to innovate and change.

January 24, 2018 | Urban Planning | Perkins+WillPeter Baird

Aside from the roads being wider and the lack of infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians, there seemed to...

Activating the workplace
January 03, 2018 | Office Building Design | Perkins+WillMary Baker

Here's how active work stations impact how you think, perform, and feel.

November 16, 2017 | K-12 Schools | Perkins+WillJessica Figenholtz and Andrew Broderick

There are three driving issues behind this next generation: demographic change, behavioral change, and the...

Kids walking outside of a school
September 20, 2017 | K-12 Schools | Perkins+WillRachael Dumas

School structures offer a unique opportunity as they can often double as community centers and serve as she...

June 23, 2017 | Green | Perkins+WillKate Kerbel

Since its development in the 1990s, the LEED rating system has been applied to over 19.1 billion total comm...

Overlay Init