"If somebody wanted to test structures being able to withstand flooding or wind, you could imagine creating a wind tunnel or some sort of floodable space," Perkins+Will senior urban designer planner Daniel Windsor told Fast Company. "Or if it's about emergency response, you can imagine creating these large-scale command center simulators where people can come in and train on software or large command-center-like simulations."
Atlantic City's economic predicament, as well as its precarious location right on the Atlantic coast, made it the perfect muse for a research-focused overhaul, Windsor says. The proposal was developed entirely on spec; the firm didn't have a client or even a stakeholder on the hook when coming up with the idea. However, that doesn't mean they didn't have anyone in mind.
"Knowing that superstorm Sandy just barely missed Atlantic City, and knowing sea-level rise projections there, it seemed there was a lot of alignment between the need for capacity building with some of the concerns and issues happening in Atlantic City," he says.
For now, it's just an idea the firm hopes to get off the ground with New Jersey officials, and even a first step toward that alternate future for the Jersey Shore will require a major conversation shift.
RESILIENCY, THE NEW SUSTAINABILITY? For the last two decades, "sustainability" has dominated the design and architecture conversations. But as sustainability has settled into the worldwide design vernacular thanks to standards like LEED, Perkins+Will wants to give "resiliency" the same treatment, says P+W principal Janice Barnes. Resiliency refers to a structure, community, or ecosystem's ability to withstand and thrive under both chronic and acute stresses.
So the firm has spent the past 18 months developing an internal "resiliency task force" that identifies systemic issues (like lack of affordable housing) and acute ones (hurricanes) that are threats to both the structures and ecosystems of various regions. Barnes leads the task force, which encompasses 50 Perkins+Will employees across its 23 locations.
"This is the greatest design challenge facing the world right now," Barnes says of resiliency. "And not only a design question. But if you look at all of the work that design firms are doing, this issue hits every type of environment that we would work on in every community that we would work."
The task force's presence in each of P+W's global branches means that projects are now conceived of through a lens of resiliency from the outset, as opposed to an afterthought.
Barnes also works with the Rockefeller Foundation's Resilience Academies, which train city officials and help communities develop data-driven, community-led proposals for resiliency. The Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities works to help cities cope with environmental, social, and economic stressors mainly byintroducing resiliency positions into city management structures, as well as support networks and knowledge bases surrounding the issue.
In P+W's case, the task force is meant to think holistically about issues facing various societies while understanding that issues can be hyperlocal and specific to a region or community. That could mean retrofitting buildings for flood proofing and designing critical infrastructure for new buildings, as well as city design, social vulnerability, and designing emergency response systems.
For the full story: http://www.fastcompany.com/3049167/most-creative-people/could-atlantic-city-become-an-innovation-hub-for-climate-change-and-res