Ocean State

Structures of Coastal Resilience.

Collaboration with Princeton University, Rockefeller Foundation

Research Initiative
Princeton University
Rockefeller Foundation

SCR brings together a distinguished group of engineers, scientists, architects, landscape architects, and scholars, matching depth of design experience with the latest science. The project proposes designing for risk, suggesting that we can imagine and build resilient coastal communities not only through in-depth understanding of predicted changes but also through the accommodation of variable and uncertain future conditions. In developing new methodologies for dynamic performance based flood resistant design, SCR teams aim for strategies that are simple, efficient, and easily understood and applied. This is accomplished by identifying clear storm scenarios for frequent to extreme events that include the effect of climate change and sea level rise over this century.

The research and design work proceeded in collaboration with members of the Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, including their National Planning Center for Coastal Storm Risk Management and the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi. SCR: Structures of Coastal Resilience aims to complement the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS), which was assigned to the USACE under authority of the Disaster Relief Appropriation Act of 2013. As part of a group of federal initiatives enacted in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, this study addresses the flood risks to vulnerable coastal populations via the design and deployment of structural, nonstructural, and ‘natural and nature based features’ (NNBFs).


Elkin, R.S. “Beyond Restoration: Planting Coastal Infrastructure.” In W. Leal and J. M. Keenan (Eds.), Climate Change Adaptation in North American: Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices. New York, NY: (Springer Nature, 2017). 119-135. (Peer Review)

Harvard Graduate School of Design Exhibition


Harvard Graduate School of Design Option Studio
Co-taught with Michael Van Valkenburgh as part of SCR: Structures of Coastal Resilience, Spring 2014


Student work by Manuel Colon Amador and Michalis Pirokka

Rhode Island—the Ocean State—is the site of investigation of this design studio, which asked students to propose design recommendations and specifications that are highly particular to the conditions of a changing coast.

The orchestration of diverse disciplines is emerging as the future of landscape architectural practice. Sites, now more than ever, are not defined by fixed boundaries, but rather emerge out of the assembly of essential conditions and the confluence of processes with engaged stakeholders. These factors require new models of practice and cooperation in order to address the complexities of a changing climate. This studio will explore and enable landscape architects to be more powerfully positioned to define – from ecological and economic perspectives– how project “sites” are defined.

The studio functions parallel to a research initiative supported by the Rockefeller Center and the US Army Corps of Engineers, examining the various methods of response to shifting littoral regions along the Northeast coast. A major challenge of this studio will be finding a method to operationalize the sheer volume of information, most of it highly technical/ scientific, in the service of making landscapes. This challenge comes in addition to the fact that the nature of landscape-making is disrupted in areas that are so highly vulnerable to storm surge and so likely to transmute into variable versions of itself in the coming decades. Final work may range from long-term planning policy recommendations to highly site-specific and rapid adaptations, and included compliant housing typologies, urbanism through subtraction and retreat.

Baylor_Clay_Iwamura_Takuya_Ocean State 1
Baylor_Clay_Iwamura_Takuya_Ocean State 8
Baylor_Clay_Iwamura_Takuya_Ocean State 9
Student work by Clay Baylor and Takuya Iwamura
Zhang_Heng_Ocean State 8 ADJ
Zhang_Heng_Ocean State 8 ADJ
Zhang_Heng_Ocean State 8 ADJ
Zhang_Heng_Ocean State 8 ADJ
Student work by Heng Zhang