Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge

This year-long collaborative design challenge brings innovative new ways to strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, flooding, severe storms and earthquakes.

Modelled after the “Rebuild by Design” competition that emerged after the devastation resulting from Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, BARC leadership helped launch “Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge” to demonstrate how a region can proactively prepare itself for impacts before disaster strikes.

Resilient by Design aims to leave a legacy of a stronger, safer and more adaptative Bay Area that benefits everyone. It will build our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes, while at the same time recognizing the near term challenges communities are facing related to housing affordability, fear of displacement and deep income inequality.

Who’s Involved

The Resilient by Design challenge brought together local leaders, community residents and youth, and international recognized experts in design, ecology, engineering and architecture to develop community-based solutions in nine diverse project areas around the Bay Area.

The project also brought together public sector funders, finance experts and philanthropic investors to come together to share specific advice and guidance on how the innovative, multi-benefit, interdisciplinary projects can be funded from concept phase to construction.

Check out the map of the sites here on the Resilient Bay Area website.

Project Background

At its core, Resilient by Design is about taking the threat of climate change and turning it into an opportunity to strengthen our communities by improving the local ecology and natural systems and by creating safer and more adaptive homes, buildings and infrastructure.

Design teams spent months developing new solutions to tackling sea level rise and climate resiliency, working in partnership with community based organizations, students, local experts and more to harness our region’s creativity and chart a new path forward.

Read our executive director’s update in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Developing Solutions with Multiple Benefits

The design teams were matched with sites that represent a range of the issues, terrain, and types of communities that face flood risk and other vulnerabilities. 

The blueprints developed in each of these communities contain both unique, community-driven solutions, but also approaches that can be adopted and adapted throughout the region and world — presenting an opportunity for our region to work together to solve this complex problem. The complex and diverse communities around the Bay are an asset — harnessing our innovative spirit to build a better future.  

Watch the presentations on YouTube.

A Generous Grant from the Rockefeller Foundation

The Resilient by Design|Bay Area Challenge was funded through a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Building off of their investments in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco through the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, Rockefeller was enticed by the Bay Area’s overwhelming passage of Measure AA – a region-wide parcel tax aimed at funding shoreline projects that will protect and restore the Bay - a sign that Bay Area residents are ready to make the investments necessary to adapt to an uncertain future.

Local Public, Private and Philanthropic Funding Partners

Other critical funding and support has come from BARC, the City of San Francisco, the State Coastal Conservancy, the Santa Clara County Water Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Marin Community Foundation, the San Francisco Community Foundation, the Seed Fund, Autodesk, Facebook and PG&E.