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  • Writer's pictureAaron DeMayo

Resilient design needs to become the standard, not the exception

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Before the global movement of modernism, which reduced local and regional architecture identity into a repetitive 'sameness' seen across the planet, there was a necessity for site responsiveness in considering unique weather conditions and locally available building materials.

River Street Waterfront Master Plan Bjarke Ingels
River Street Waterfront Master Plan Public Beach

The requirement for resilience adaptation will further reinforce the overarching theme of site-specific design. However, now, rather than simply looking at the past conditions, we must take a thorough and difficult look at a future of weather patterns which is not yet determined, and build to those standards.

Urban Design Waterfront Resilience Design Architecture Williamsburg Brooklyn
James Corner Field Operations and Bjarke Ingels Group developed by Two Trees Management on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Development can be of benefit to its specific users, as well as the community, to shelter its inhabitants and offer protection as part of a larger system. The River Street Waterfront Master Plan by James Corner Field Operations and Bjarke Ingels Group developed by Two Trees Management on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, utilizes berms, breakwaters, marshes, and wetlands to reduce the risk of erosion, storm surge and allows nature to exist harmoniously. Through this effort, the project investment is more well protected, and the community also receives benefits through additional coastal fortification, along with 2.9 acres of public open space including public beaches. The project even includes 250 units priced below the market rate.

Landscape and architecture integration East River Tidal Basin Breakwater
River Street Waterfront Master Plan

500 Alton Road, designed by Arquitectonica, developed by Crescent Heights and Terra Group, located in South Beach, utilizes a similar strategy to create a new three-acre park that also acts as stormwater retention, creating a new public amenity, while also reducing the project's risks of flooding.

Miami Beach Resiliency Design Urban Planning Climate Change
The Resilient Park, view North East, 500 Alton

This resilience park may reduce or maintain insurance costs and increase neighboring property values, thus increasing taxes which can assist the city gain much-needed funds.

Miami Beach Resilient Design Site Plan South Beach Flood Mitigation
500 Alton Rendered Site Plan

Similar models of granting height, FLR, or density, to free up open space in exchange for resiliency adaptations that protect the individual project as well as the community at large, will probably continue as the ever-expanding need for new infrastructure becomes apparent.

New Miami Beach Development with Resilience Flood Planning
Crescent Heights and Terra Group 46-story 337-unit tower

As future developments begin to take different physical forms, and create new relationships with their neighbors due to new climatic and financial needs, how the community embraces these changes or grasps on to what they have become familiar with, will play a large part in the ability for a community to adapt. With the ever-increasing changes in the Earth’s Climate and associated costs for upgraded infrastructure, becoming a community that welcomes resilient development typologies, I believe, will be here to stay.

Contact Future Vision Studios to include resilience design to an existing or planned project.


Per RE Miami Beach, at this month's Commission Meeting, during a discussion regarding legislation to overturn zoning precedent, allowing for elevator shafts, stairwells, mechanical chases, and chutes to not count toward FAR, City Planning Director, Tom Mooney said the Mayor intends to refer a discussion of “expanding FAR in a manner consistent with the areas that would be created by removing elevator shafts and stairwells but in a more strategic way” through mechanisms like “providing for bonuses based upon tangible benchmarks” that could include things such as meeting resiliency criteria to address flooding from sea-level rise.


Aaron DeMayo
Aaron DeMayo
Dec 29, 2019

@Sfriedman, good points. The City of Miami has made affordable housing a priority. New Zoning Ordinances they have enacted allow for 50-100% density increases, relaxed parking requirements, reduced setbacks, additional stories, and less review time. Even so, not many projects have utilized this option. Changing an area in the Arts and Entertainment District from T6-24A to T6-24B zoning is an important move, that hopefully will not get caught up within commission. T6-24B Zoning has already been shown to work out with the four towers Melo has built, each rented up quickly. Additional mechanisms would include allowing for higher density in T4 Zoning, allowing Accessory Dwelling Units, incentivizing developments with density and reduced parking on high ground near transit. I woul…


Dec 23, 2019

Agreed, resilient design needs to become the norm, but how do we balance the commensurate increases in development costs with the need for affordable(ish) real estate? Even with the building code as it is today, it's already close to impossible to build non-luxury housing.

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