Ocean State

Resilience is typically a value associated with the scale of an ecosystem. This view overlooks the potential of resilience as an embedded micro-condition, which amalgamates through biological evidence. By nature competitive, plants emerge and ‘spring back’ based on regimes of disturbance that warrant their use and exploitation along the urbanized coastline, contrary to the ideology of native or restorative environmentalism.  A strategy that realizes the potential of plants to shape the environment provides a foundation to develop a design that can be manipulated and measured alongside typical construction materials.

The Harvard GSD, working in conjunction with a consortium of universities, as well as the Rockefeller Foundation and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has developed a set of generalizable, storm surge mitigation strategies in order to provide a cohesive estuarine-based approach for addressing the growing concerns over sea level rise and storm surge. The application of vegetal infrastructure is being expanded, crafting a wider role in which plants are the primary wave attenuating agents, using disturbance regimes to cultivate rhizomatic structural components.

This project is part of Structure for Coastal Resilience (SCR) a collaborative research project funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and led by Professor Guy Nordenson with Princeton University, PennDesign, and The City University of New York.

Rosetta S. Elkin, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
Michael Van Valkenburgh, Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

Research Team
Marissa Angell
Manuel Cólon-Amador
Michael J. Luegering
Michalis Piroccas

Vegetation Consultant
Peter Del Tredici, GSD

Coastal Resources Management Council
Grover Fugate, Executive Director
Janet Freedman, Coastal Geologist
James Boyd, Coastal Policy Analyst

The Natural Resources Conservation Service
Chris Miller, Director and Plant Biologist

Save the Bay
Wenley Ferguson, Director of Habitat Restoration