Image by Shaun O'Rourke South Boston with 7.5 feet of sea level rise Innovation District Phase 1: 1 - 20 Years // Image by Arrowstreet Innovation District Phase 2: 20 - 50 Years // Image by Arrowstreet Innovation District Phase 3: 50 - 100 Years // Image by Arrowstreet

(this press release was issued by ULI Boston/New England) – On October 1, ULI Boston/New England will release a dramatic report, The Urban Implications of Living with Water, which examines steps Boston and surrounding communities can take to adapt urban centers to rising seas. A copy of the report is available for download here. ULI will hold a press conference to discuss the findings and present a panel discussion starting at 8:00 am at the offices of Wilmer Hale, 60 State Street, Boston.

Beginning in May, ULI assembled member teams comprised of more than 70 local architects, engineers, developers and financiers who volunteered their time to focus on four unique locations, assess the risks these neighborhoods face from sea level rise. The effort resulted in a 52-page report which suggests short-term, mid-term and long-term solutions, which the real estate community and public sector can adopt to improve preparedness and response to the effects of rising seas.

The effort was sparked by a 2013 World Bank study of 136 coastal cities across the globe which ranked Boston 8th most vulnerable to damage from sea level rise.

“While the exact timing of sea level rise is uncertain, we do know it will occur, dramatically impacting our buildings and infrastructure,” said Amy Korte, principal at Arrowstreet and co-chair of the Urban Implications of Living with Water initiative.

ULI teams studied Alewife, Back Bay, Revere and the Innovation District focusing on current barriers to resiliency planning as well the cost of doing nothing in order to strategically rethink the region’s relationship with water.

As an example, the team studying the Innovation District, which some believe will experience a 7.5 foot sea level rise by 2100, proposed building a new Harborwalk which would provide additional recreational activities while also functioning as a sea wall and soft infrastructure boundary. The tram also suggested incorporating aquatic vegetation beyond the Harborwalk to further mitigate tidal impacts.

“This report gave us a chance to think creatively and generate flexible, phased solutions that would both increase the resiliency of our communities and create new development opportunities,” said Korte.

“We are thrilled at the results of this effort,” said Sarah Barnat, executive director of ULI Boston/New England. “This report is the result of the efforts of some of the brightest minds in land use planning who donated hundreds of hours of their time to this important issue.”

At the October 1, 2014 press conference, Dennis Carlberg, Sustainability Director for Boston University and co-chair of the ULI Boston Sustainability Council, will present an overview of the Urban Implications of Living with Water report, and members of the panel will make individual remarks before commencing the panel discussion.

Brian Swett, chief of Environment and Energy for the City of Boston, will lead the panel which is comprised of:

  • John Macomber, senior finance lecturer at Harvard Business School
  • John Bolduc, environmental planner for the City of Cambridge Community Development Department
  • David Bois, principal at Arrowstreet
  • Amy Korte, principal at Arrowstreet

The Urban Implications of Living with Water is supported by a grant from the Kresge Foundation and the ULI Foundation.

Topics: Resiliency