Resilient by Design


Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is a collaborative research and design project that brings together local residents, public officials and local, national and international experts to develop innovative solutions to the issues brought on by climate change that our region faces today.

In a yearlong challenge, teams of engineers, architects, designers and other experts will work alongside community members to identify critical areas throughout the Bay Area and propose exciting, new, community-based solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes.

The result will be 10 new implementable projects that offer an imaginative and collaborative approach to resilience. By seizing the critical need to address climate change as an opportunity to bring about a stronger, safer Bay, we are protecting shoreline communities and preparing for the local challenges brought on by sea level rise.

What does this mean for Marin? Because Resilient by Design's goal is to have at least one project in each county, Marin is expected to get one site project.  Since all designs must be implementable and transferable to other sites, the County will be able to learn and benefit from all project sites around the bay. This endeavor is based on the successful Rebuild by Design in New York City, which offered a platform for architects, engineers, and planners to rethink and rebuild its waterfront after Hurricane Sandy. Resilient by Design is taking this model and applying it to the Bay Area. The key difference is that we have the opportunity to act before a disaster to reduce the risks of climate change.


Challenge Launch

The Challenge Launch included the release of the Design Brief as well as an open call for Site Ideas. This call was an opportunity to identify the Bay Area’s most vulnerable ecosystems, infrastructure, and communities along the shoreline. Community members, local government, and interested organizations to shared Bay shoreline areas that could benefit from creative and innovative design energy.

May 31                Design Brief issued: open call for site ideas launched.

June 16               Information session for potential bidders (in-person and online).

July 7                  Design Team submissions were due.

Late July             Jury reviewed submissions and selected ten Design Teams.

September 10th   Announcements of the ten selected Design Teams.

Collaborative Research Phase

This phase will be a combination of independent and collaborative research. This is a crucial step towards gaining an adequate understanding of specific needs and vulnerabilities of communities, and ecosystems in order to ultimately produce successful, implementable projects. Tours and programming are scheduled to take place on the dates below in the Bay Area. There will be time built-in during these dates for independent research as well as collaborative learning. Design Teams will receive $100,000 USD at the completion of Collaborative Research Phase. There will be no reimbursable expenses above this amount.

Sept 11 - 15      East Bay Tour Week

Oct 2-6             North Bay Tour Week

Oct 16 - 20       South Bay Tour Week

Nov 1 - Nov 3   San Francisco Week (includes a design critique)

Nov 15             Each Design Team publicly presents three to five Design Opportunities.

Nov 15 - 22      Public input on design concepts accepted. Attendance not required.

By Dec 8          Research Advisory Committee matches one Design Opportunity to each Team.

Collaborative Design Phase

    Design Teams will develop site-specific conceptual design solutions in coordination with community groups and state and local government partners. Design Teams work with local jurisdictions, community leaders and organizations, and Resilient by Design partners and consultants to develop detailed implementation plans. Design Teams will primarily drive the work schedule; however, there will be dates where all the teams come together for midterm critiques, public events, and further learning on topics requested by the teams. These may include issues that are necessary to ensure the success of the ultimate project, such as local regulatory frameworks, public financing, state or federal government programs, etc. Design Teams will receive $150,000 USD at the completion of Collaborative Design Phase. There will be no reimbursable expenses above this amount.

    Marin County Site Submittals

    Design Teams

    Meet the 10 winning Design Teams who will participate in the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge.  The Design Team cohort includes designers, urban planners, architects, engineers, and other resilience experts with local, regional, national, and international expertise.


    BIG + ONE + Sherwood is big --- with the most members of any Design Team, they bring significant international experience designing for climate change in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the Bay Area. This Design Team’s approach is centered around a collective commitment to embrace the interconnected, rich, and diverse set of human and non-human ecosystems that comprise the Bay Area and proactively design the links between nature and culture, between people, and their environment.

    Design Team Members: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group; ONE; Sherwood; Moffatt & Nichol; Nelson Nygaard; Strategic Economics; Dutra Group


    BionicTeam was assembled around the need to accelerate the response to sea level rise and create resilience at Bay Area sites most in need. With deep Bay Area roots, this Design Team has deep local knowledge and is already ingrained in our communities. In addition, BionicTeam’s internationally recognized designers also have expertise in policy and legal framework design, and equity promotion, as well as cross-disciplinary research and creating resilient infrastructure.

    Design Team Members: Bionic Landscape; WXY; PennDesign; Michael Yarne; Enterprise; Moffatt & Nichol; WRA; RMA; Romberg Tiburon Center, SFSU; BAYCAT; Studio for Urban Projects; Ball + Winter; Keyser Marston Associates

    Common Ground

    Rooted in the Bay Area but with deep experience working around the world, Common Ground brings a global perspective to the Bay Area Challenge. This Design Team stood out because of their unique approach to exploring the Pacific. Specifically, Common Ground’s work centers around the dual dynamic and risk of flooding through incremental sea level rise and instantaneous seismic activity.

    Design Team Members: TLS Landscape Architecture; Exploratorium; Guy Nordenson & Assoc; Michael Maltzan Arch; HR&A Advisors; Sitelab Urban Studio; Moffatt & Nichol; Lotus Water, Rana Creek, UC Berkeley


    HASSELL+ hails from Australia and the Netherlands and comes to the Challenge with an essential background: they understand water. By partnering with local experts, this Design Team centers their expertise around three core disciplines: Design & Places, Hydrology & Ecology, and Social Impact & Technology. Their mission is to enhance the lives of Bay Area communities by designing and delivering places and systems that improve the physical and social resilience of the Bay Area while performing vital daily and emergency functions.

    Design Team Members: HASSELL; MVRDV; Deltares; Lotus Water; frog design; Originate; Civic Edge Consulting; Goudappel; Page & Turnbull

    Permaculture + Social Equity (P+SET)

    Permaculture + Social Equity (P+SET) centers their approach around placemaking — connecting people to places where they live and play to create mutual interdependent relationships amongst residents and their environment. This Design Team comes to the Challenge with decades of experience in engaging communities in ideation, assessment, and implementation – but P+SET also designs as members of this particular community themselves. This Design Team includes longtime locals who are deeply familiar with the social and ecological challenges facing the Bay Area.

    Design Team Members: Base Landscape Architecture; Communitecture; Pandora Thomas; Antonio Roman-Alcala; Urban Permaculture Institute; Ross Martin Design

    Public Sediment

    Public Sediment makes a simple pronouncement “we design with mud,” but comes to the Bay Area Challenge with a deeply unique approach that believes in ecological infrastructure and its protective value as the underpinning of an approach to resiliency. The multidisciplinary Design Team brings landscape architects, researchers, designers, ecologists, and academics from UC Davis together and will focus on making sediment the building block of resilience in their quest to protect hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents.

    Design Team Members: SCAPE Landscape Architecture; Arcadis; Dredge Research Collaborative; UC Davis: Department of Human Ecology + Design and Center for Watershed Sciences; Buoyant Ecologies Lab; TS Studio

    The All Bay Collective

    The All Bay Collective (ABC) comes to the Bay Area Challenge rooted in academic discovery and research. They bring a focus of not just now, but a promise to deliver a lasting educational legacy of well‐trained students who will become the next generation of planning and design professionals with a strong foundation in resilience. This Design Team is comprised of locally based but globally experienced professionals, academics, students, and policy makers.

    Design Team Members: AECOM, CMG Landscape Architecture; University of California, Berkeley- College of Environmental Design, Berkeley Center for New Media, The Terner Center; California College of the Arts; IDEO; in association with Silvestrum, SKEO, and Moll de Monchaux

    The Field Operations Team

    The Field Operations Team brings a bold and optimistic vision for how the Bay Area can better adapt to climate change, rising sea levels and related environmental stresses in the coming decades. Formed under the banner of ‘ONE BAY, MANY COMMUNITIES, MANY SOLUTIONS,’ this Design Team of locally-based designers, engineers, ecologists, urban strategists, and communication specialists hopes to see the Challenge contribute to the larger global effort to increase resilience.

    Design Team Members: James Corner Field Operations; Moffatt & Nichol; Magnusson Klemencic Associates; SF BAY National Estuarine Research Reserve, Romberg-Tiburon Center, SFSF; Andrea Baker Consulting; James Lima Planning + Development

    The Home Team

    The Home Team was assembled to explore affordability as a driver of deep transformation, and to leverage multiple benefits that can emerge when a design approach is co-created through the lens of home. Their approach stands out as a strong collaboration of recognized urban designers, architects already entwined with Bay Area-based community development corporations – bringing a multi-layered understanding of issues resiliency, community planning, affordability and social strife. This Design Team seeks to heal divisions and cultivate solutions, based on shared values, assets and vulnerabilities.

    Design Team Members: Mithun, First Community Housing; Chinatown Community Development Center; ISEEED/Streetwyze; BioHabitats; ARUP; HR&A Advisors; Moffat & Nichol; ALTA Planning; Urban Biofilters; Resiliency Design Institute

    Team UPLIFT

    Team UPLIFT brings a diverse, far reaching Design Team to the Challenge – combining decades of urban planning, design, architectural experience and global engineering chops with public policy expertise, data visualization skills and sustainability expertise. Yet their perspective is clear – this Design Team makes no presumption to know the answers in advance and instead has outlined an approach for engaging with and listening to community. Team UPLIFT knows that the foundation we create today is the one that our shared community will depend on in the future.

    Design Team Members: Gensler; ARUP; Margie Ruddick Landscape (MRL); HR&A Advisors; Stamen Design; UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability; Stanford Sustainable Urban Systems Initiative
    September 10, 2017

    News and Events


    • de zeen - BIG, MVRDV, James Corner and more to tackle Bay Area climate change 09/19/17
    • Route Fifty - Inequality in the Bay Area Makes Preparing for Climate Change Impacts Harder 09/18/17
    • Architectural Digest - A Radical New Plan to "Future-Proof" San Francisco 09/14/17
    • San Francisco Chronicle - Competition looks at redesign for S.F. Bay as sea levels rise 09/14/2017
    • Next City - 10 Design Teams Selected to Tackle Bay Area Sea Level Rise 09/13/17
    • The Architect's Newspaper - MVRDV, Big, and James Corner Field Operations selected to future-proof Bay Area 09/12/17
    • Resilient by Design - 10 Design Teams from Around the Globe Selected to Create Community-Based Solutions to Climate Change in the Bay Area 09/10/17
    • KQED - Design Teams Attack Growing Threat for Bay Area Flooding: Rising Seas 09/10/17
    • San Francisco Chronicle - 10 teams selected to map Bay Area's response to rising sea levels 09/10/17