Responding to Sea-Level Rise

The measurable changes in sea-level rise – and the scientific projections of its increase within the next 30 years – present immense challenges to our notions of living and continuing to develop in South Florida’s flood zones and coastal communities. Rising tides mean the big questions of resilience, sustainability and adaptability need to be answered now.

Jeffrey Huber, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, MLA, is the Interim Director and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at Florida Atlantic University. He recently sat down with WPTV-25 News in West Palm Beach to talk about the concept of “Salty Urbanism” and how it can provide an adaptation framework for South Florida development so it can become more resilient and sustainable in the wake of rising seas.

“The built environment that we see in South Florida right now is only 50 percent of what will exist in 2050. How and where are going to build?” Huber said. “We could become a leader in the United States for living with water, but right now, we don’t have the building codes and long-range planning in place.”

Watch the full news segment with journalist Michael Williams and Florida Senator Lori Berman on WPTV’s To the Point.

 

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$1.7M Watershed Planning Initiative

Adapted Press Release:

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM)’s Bureau of Mitigation prioritizes flood risk management as a means to protect people and property during flood events. To accomplish this goal, DEM is laying the foundation for its Watershed Planning Initiative by working on a pilot project with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) College of Engineering and Computer Science. The multi-disciplinary FAU team includes Dr. Diana Mitsova, from the School of Urban and Regional Planning; Anthony Abbate and Jeff Huber, from the School of Architecture, as well as others including team leader Dr. Frederick Bloetscher, Professor and Associate Dean of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

DEM has received funding from FEMA to encourage communities to become a part of their community rating system program. To help encourage participation, DEM has contracted with the Florida Atlantic University College of Engineering and Computer Science through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) DR-4337-004-P, to create a template for completion of Watershed Master Plans (WMP) throughout the state of Florida over the next year.

To start the process, FAU will conduct research to determine where the gaps in watershed data across the state. FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies will collect plans that currently exist and creating a catalog of these plans. They are also creating a best-practices document when it comes to developing watershed management plans.

FAU is also creating a screening tool to identify the areas across the state that are the most susceptible to flooding. This part of the project includes researchers in the Departments of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning and Geosciences.

The next step will be to use the data generated from the screening tool and the gathering of current plans and policies and create a guidance document for others to implement the tool and will create data for others to use in developing their plans. The ultimate goal for the initiative is to develop watershed master plans for the entire state. In doing so, the state hopes these plans will be integrated into floodplain management and Local Mitigation Strategies throughout Florida along with helping those communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The initiative is funded partially by the federal government through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and partially from the State of Florida. The pilot project is scheduled to conclude in September 2020 and will ultimately produce two prototype watershed master plans for the state of Florida. The entire initiative is projected to take three years and the next step will be to take the pilot program’s results and apply them statewide.

New MetroLAB Gallery Space

The new MetroLAB gallery officially opened Friday March 23 with the launch of an exhibition of current research at the School of Architecture. The 1800-square-foot space is located on the ground floor of the Higher Education Complex with direct access from Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. It will serve the school as an academic facility for design studio reviews, exhibits, and community engagement. Officiating at the ribbon cutting were representatives of the FAU Board of Trustees and university leadership, including Trustee Shaun Davis, Provost Gary Perry, Vice President Dan Flynn and Broward Campuses Associate Provost and Director of the School of Architecture, Anthony Abbate.

The evening also marked the opening of the exhibit of Salty Urbanism presenting the award winning research of the school undertaken by the MetroLAB Collaborative. The project proposes a sea level rise adaptation design framework for urban areas in southern Florida. Funded by grants from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts, the project team will be recognized with an AIA Honor Award at the national conference in New York this summer.