Sea Rise and Sun Set: Modeling Urban Morphologies for Resilience in Miami Beach

"New infrastructure projects are being developed for a landscape that no longer exists.”  — Betsy Kolbert, New Yorker

This studio will develop strategies for urban adaptation to the imminent effects of sea level rise and storm event in the fragile ecological and cultural context of Miami Beach. Members of the studio will be invited to develop innovative models of resilient urban morphology in response to the twin drivers of sea level rise and solar orientation. These models will be developed through a series of relational urban modeling exercises examining the geology and hydrology, ecology and typology of Miami Beach.

Miami Beach’s coastal barrier islands form one of the most recognizable and singularly valuable cultural landscapes in the world. Miami Beach is also the North American city presently under the most immediate threat of sea level and storm event. The city presently endures flooding on a regular basis. Often these are ‘blue-sky’ floods in the absence of any storm, and enhanced by the effects of the lunar cycle and associated ‘king-tides.’ In response to these conditions the city of Miami Beach has recently embarked on an ambitious program of civil engineering projects to elevate streets, install pump stations, and stay ahead of the ongoing slow disaster of sea level rise. While this work focuses on the immediate and short-term challenges of urban adaptation, it does little to incorporate ecological systems, to enhance hydrological performance, or to imagine a coherent public realm. This studio takes up the challenge of imagining a more resilient model of urban adaptation incorporating ecological performance through relation modeling of urban morphology.

The studio is sponsored by the GSD Office for Urbanization and the city of Miami Beach. The studio and its project proposals will inform the GSD Office for Urbanization’s Project on South Florida and Sea Level. The studio welcomes degree candidates from all GSD programs. The studio meets Wednesday and Thursday afternoons each week over the course of the semester, and optional digital workshops are provided weekly. A studio field research trip to Miami Beach is planned.

Aziz Barbar will serve as the Teaching Associate for this studio.