Shot from the Resilient by Design Summit

Background and Challenge

Urban centers around the world constantly face infrastructure and land use dilemmas as they address ongoing economic development, and shifting needs and demands. In recent years, these challenges have become increasingly complex for coastal cities as they grapple with the impacts of rising sea levels. Media headlines tell the story of unprecedented flooding and natural disasters, often disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities. To help address these emerging infrastructure challenges in San Francisco, Resilient by Design (RbD) – an international design competition -- was launched in the Bay Area. RbD brings together teams from around the world to tackle the difficult planning issues of land use, housing, and transportation in the face of climate change and sea level rise. After an international selection process, RbD selected nine teams to develop conceptual designs to manage real world problems in the Bay Area.

The CBI Approach

CBI has engaged with RbD at key milestones during the competition to help experts select design teams, match design teams to project sites throughout the Bay Area, and judge designs. CBI helped the international jury define award categories and judging criteria that would attract media attention for the competition. To obtain input from the Bay Area community, CBI and the RbD staff convened a Bay Area conversation with nearly 220 designers, planners, government agency representatives, environmental justice advocates, consultants, and the public to think about what they had learned about adaptation to climate change and how to advance the groundbreaking designs toward implementation. CBI facilitated the conversations that focused on ecological resilience and nature-based solutions, social resilience and equity, and infrastructure and governance. CBI is now working with staff and key advisors to facilitate strategic planning, including defining funding prospects and project sponsors, that will support the transformation of these innovative designs from concept to projects on the ground.


These strategic engagements have produced concrete results: design team selections, project matching, and design team awards. Through the awards process, the international jury was able to identify a number of lessons learned and critical design elements for potential implementation in other design processes around the world. You can learn more about the community engagement strategies the awarded teams pursued in the Resilient by Design Engagement Toolkit, released in August 2018.