I had the privilege of acting as co-chair for one of the four sites in the ULI Living with Water: The Urban Implications Charrette. This event provided an opportunity for a broad range of professionals with diverse expertise to discuss and strategize resiliency strategies related to sea level rise and inland flooding. The goal of the event was to develop real strategies related to planning, design, and public policy to address ongoing and future impacts of climate change.

My panel centered on Revere Beach and Arrowstreet’s development at Waterfront Square. The site, adjacent to the Wonderland T station, encompassed the Waterfront Square site as well as Ocean Avenue, DCR parkland , Revere Beach Boulevard, and Revere Beach. Expanding the site beyond the confines of Waterfront Square allowed the group to expand thinking to include strategies within the parklands and along the seawall. The Revere site was unique in the charrette since it is directly impacted by the potential for both inland and tidal flooding. This poses distinct challenges which include developing concepts to positively impact adjacent low-lying residential neighborhoods.

Our team was comprised of architects, landscape architects, engineers, risk management, and public policy specialists. In addition to the group of ULI members, Paul Rupp, development consultant for the City of Revere, and Peter Bradley, project manager for the developer, provided insight and helped me bring the group up to speed on the specifics of the site and project goals. Over the afternoon, a number of concepts were discussed and developed.

Our team decided to categorize the strategies based on achievability. The color green represented achievability by the development team, yellow represented achievability with either regulatory or public financing support, and red represented achievability only with significant regulatory and public funding support. An example of a green strategy included elevating occupied areas well above current FEMA flood elevations and implementing seasonal, non-critical active uses (such as “pop-up” retail) at street levels – a strategy currently employed in Arrowstreet’s work on the site. Yellow and red strategies, which are either partially or totally outside of private control, included concepts such as temporary seawall barriers and the development of breakwaters off shore to minimize tidal extremes.

Having spent the last 8 years working on the site and studying and developing design to protect private investment and public health, this was an opportunity to reevaluate and reexamine our approach to this site. The Revere charrette team provided a lively discussion based on a diverse points of view and experience. Over the next few months, I will be working with the other co-chairs and ULI staff members to develop the results and ideas from the charrette into more recommendations which will be presented and publicized this fall. Keep an eye out for additional details.


Topics: Resiliency, Urban Design, Events