Designing with Water: Creative Solutions from Around the Globe

Developed by The Boston Harbor Association (TBHA) and Sasaki Associates, this report focuses on urban design solutions to sea level rise resulting from climate change. Designing with Water provides Boston-relevant case studies and innovative designs for city planners and developers to adapt to flooding and enhance urban resiliency. The report is the second in the Preparing for the Rising Tides series, which the TBHA first released in 2013, assessing the neighborhood-level sea level rise flooding risk to Boston.

This peer-reviewed report focuses on the concept of “designing with water” flood management - the strategy of allowing defined areas to flood or contain water in order to prevent damage to other areas. This concept considers coastal flooding not only a threat, but an opportunity to address multiple goals while making necessary new investments in buildings, communities, and infrastructure. 

The document is organized into five parts:

1) Boston’s Wet Future - describes Boston’s anticipated exposure to coastal flooding.
2) Designing with Water - defines the idea of Designing with Water.
3) Case Studies - includes twelve Designing with Water case studies.
4) Recommendations and Conclusions offers findings and recommendations for Boston, based on the case study research.
5) Resources - reprints Boston’s coastal flooding maps, defines key terms, and offers supplemental case studies.

Twelve case studies are included that show how these strategies allow cities all over the world to decrease their potential flood damage while enhancing the vibrancy and livability of their communities. Case studies include successful design projects such as floating apartment buildings, canals, neighborhood-scale infrastructure, social resilience, and regional plans.

Case Studies are presented for site, neighborhood and regional scales: 

Individual Site-scale Case Studies

  • Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence (Providence, RI, US)
  • Burnham Hall (Lincoln, VT, US)
  • Alewife Reservation Stormwater Wetland (Cambridge, MA, US)
  • The Citadel (Naaldwijk, NLD)

Neighborhood-scale Case Studies

  • Village Agents (Gloucestershire, UK)
  • HafenCity Master Plan (Hamburg, GER)
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration (Seoul, KR)
  • Strategic Plan For The United Houma Nation (United Houma Nation, LA, US)

Regional-scale Case Studies

  • Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan (New Orleans, MS, US)
  • Thames Estuary 2100 Plan (London, UK)
  • Room for the River Waal (Nijmegen, NLD)
  • Cedar Rapids River Corridor Redevelopment (Cedar Rapids, IA, US) 


Publication Date: August 1, 2014

Author or Affiliated User:

Related Organizations:

  • The Boston Harbor Assocation


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study

States Affected:


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