Rockefeller Funds Bay Area Design Challenge

Selected teams will join forces with the local government to integrate existing plans and ideas into new projects.
Dr. Judith Rodin, The Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Judith Rodin, The Rockefeller Foundation

San Francisco—The Rockefeller Foundation just threw its support behind the San Francisco Bay Area. The organization recently provided a $4.6 million grant for the formation of the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge, a competition that will unite innovators, policymakers, designers, architects and developers with the goal of generating ingenious, long-term infrastructure solutions in the San Francisco Bay region.

The San Francisco Planning Department helped lay the groundwork for the program. RBD—modeled on the Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition—will focus on infrastructure designed to address the impact of climate change. Participants will develop 10 implementable projects that will assist nine local counties in acclimating to the effects of the rising sea level, increasing coastal flooding and seismic susceptibilities.

“Across the Bay Area, increasingly frequent flooding is putting more and more strain on aging infrastructure, while continued sea-level rise is threatening coastal resources. These are real and serious challenges, and they require real and serious solutions,” Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, said in a prepared statement.

It’s not just a Bay Area issue. As noted in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2014 National Climate Assessment, coastal cities’ water supply, energy infrastructure and evacuation routes are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels, storm surges, inland flooding, erosion and other climate-related changes.

The RBD initiative will kick off with an international call for participants. Selected design teams will be guided through a research phase that will provide them with a comprehensive introduction to the area, agencies, leaders and other relevant players. The designated groups will then join forces with local government to integrate existing plans and ideas into the new designs, after which they’ll enter the selection phase, where they’ll submit proposals containing final designs, finance plans and implementation strategies for jury review. The public will have a role in the contest as well.

Once the winners of the challenge emerge, local officials will work with the teams to orchestrate execution plans based on funding sources. The games begin in April 2017.

Image courtesy of The Rockefeller Foundation