top of page
  • Writer's pictureAaron DeMayo

An Architectural Design Approach to Climate Adaptation - Part 2 - Repeating Adaptations

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

Image Source, Florida Memory. Henry Flagler departing his train in Key West

Human Migration, A New City

Henry Morrison Flagler moved to St. Augustine on the suggestion of a doctor, because of his wife’s poor health, where he was charmed by the city and weather, but frustrated by the lack of hotels and transportation. Mr. Flagler and Mr. Rockefeller built real estate together. In 1887 Flagler built a railroad and hotels in Palm Beach as a winter resort for the wealthy. Several wealthy landowners and citrus barons urged Flager to extend the railroad farther south for years.

Julia Tuttle Statue in Bayfront Park

A Fruitful Climate

Damaging back to back freezes in 1894 and 1895 destroyed most of the Florida Citrus crop. Julia Tuttle sent Flagler a box of Orange Blossoms that were undamaged from the frost, from Biscayne Bay, along with a proposition to give the developer half of her land if he would serve Miami with a railroad and improve the town.

Visible Patterns

The figure above shows the variability and change in the length of the freeze-free season (left). The bar chart shows differences in the length of the freeze-free season by decade (1900–2016) as compared to the long-term average for the Southeast (right). The map shows trends over 1950–2016 for individual weather stations. The length of the freeze-free season has increased at most stations, particularly since the 1980s.

Warming Nights

Sixty-one percent of major Southeast cities are exhibiting some aspects of worsening heatwaves, which is a higher percentage than any other region of the country. Hot days and warm nights together impact human comfort and health and result in the need for increased cooling efforts. A lack of nighttime cooling also impacts agriculture. There are variability and change in the annual number of hot days (top) and warm nights (bottom). The bar charts show averages over the region by decade for 1900–2016, while the maps show the trends for 1950–2016 for individual weather stations. Average summer temperatures during the most recent ten years have been the warmest on record, with very large increases in nighttime temperatures and more modest increases in daytime temperatures, as indicated by contrasting changes in hot days and warm nights (top left). The annual number of hot days (maximum temperature above 95°F) has been lower since 1960 than the average during the first half of the 20th century; (top right) trends in hot days since 1950 are generally downward except along the south Atlantic coast and in Florida due to high numbers during the 1950s but have been slightly upward since 1960, following a gradual increase in average daytime maximum temperatures during that time. (bottom left) Conversely, the number of warm nights (minimum temperature above 75°F) has doubled on average compared to the first half of the 20th century, and (bottom right) locally has increased at most stations. Sources: NOAA NCEI and CICS-NC.

Repeating Adaptations

A warm climate in Miami allowed the local orange blossoms to survive the harsh winter freeze, and technology of the time drove Flagler to build a railroad along our coastal ridge to form the starting point of our home.

Ironically, we are now building our version of that technology, with the Miami Central Station, serving Brightline trains, and soon the TriRail as well. Climactic warming is now also the cause for development; however, this time, the warming is bringing other dangers. The opportunity lies for us to incentivize development and transit along our coastal ridges, with the challenge of also providing fair housing opportunities.

A New Precedent for Changning Environments

We have been greatly changing our climate for millennia, with until only recently, not much understanding of the broad effects. Previous changes we faced as a civilization were broadly based on our movement to new environments. Each time we migrate to a new environment, we must adapt, often with new technologies. Currently, our environments are greatly changing as we remain in place, and life in all locations must be aware and proactive. Luckily, we have the most data and technology that we have ever had, to evaluate, share, and collaborate on solutions.


bottom of page