In addition to being one of the most beautiful cities in the world (as noted by the BRA’s own Kairos Shen), Boston is also one of the luckiest. We avoided flood disasters from winter storms Nemo and Hercules by just a few hours; and had Hurricane Sandy had hit us at high tide, Boston would have likely experienced a 100-year flood.

Boston is a city built along water, and as a result, we are a city vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise. Thankfully, a solution is on the way—and  you can be a part of it.

Last Friday, at the Charlestown Navy Yard, The City of Boston, along with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and The Boston Harbor Association announced an international design competition to protect Boston’s at-risk waterfront.

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Slated to begin this fall, the competition, which is funded by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation, seeks creative and innovative design solutions to climate change at three different scales: individual buildings, districts, and existing infrastructure.

“This is the future of planning in Boston” said Brian Swett, the City’s Chief of Energy, Environment, and Open Space. “It’s taking a full comprehensive approach of all the issues that are relevant. Not a piecemeal approach, but a comprehensive approach.”

The announcement of this competition coincides with the release of The Boston Harbor Associates and Sasaki Associates report entitled “Designing with Water: Creative Examples from Around the Globe.” The report provides Boston-relevant case studies and innovative suggestions in ways a coastal city can thrive in the face of climate change.  

“Imagine if we added a Sapphire Necklace to go with our Emerald Necklace of parks to keep the city dry while adding beautiful water elements to our urban fabric,” said Julie Wormser of The Boston Harbor Association.  “These are among the ideas that we highlight in Designing with Water and are seeking in the international design competition.”

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Cassius Cash, the Superintendent of the Boston National Historical Park, took time to point out that in 200 years, approximately the same age as the famous USS Constitution, the entire Navy Yard will be under water. He also pointed to our National parks and how they help us better understand “the workings, the lessons of history, and the relationship of the world around us.”

”Even on the verge of climate change, these natural and cultural resources can teach us how our planet is changing and show us a way to continue to preserve them for future generations” he said.

The goal of this competition is to make sure that Boston is known as one of the most climate-prepared coastal cities in the world. “We don’t want to wait for our Cedar Rapids Event, our Katrina, our Sandy. We want to take action now” said Swett.

So, do you have what it takes to save Boston from the rising tide?

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