Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance 2015 Conference

The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance 2015 Conference occurred yesterday aboard the Hornblower Infinity. The Arup New York City office is perennially a participant, and this year was no exception, with five attendees, myself as a panel speaker, and an exhibition booth showcasing our NYC waterfront experience and the City Resilience Framework.

The theme of the conference this year was “Shaping Your 21st Century Waterfront,” and the conversations that occurred aboard the boat featured prominent NYC officials, practitioners, and advocates for a sustainable and resilient waterfront.

In a session entitled “How are we really doing? An assessment on long-term needs and progress on climate change adaptation,” the esteemed panel offered a positive report on New York City’s efforts on sustainability with a look back at PlaNYC and a forward look on OneNYC.

I was a panel speaker at the following session, entitled “Resilient waterfronts, resilient communities: Adapting capital projects to improve coastal protection and benefit communities.” The panel was moderated by Nancy Kete, managing director from the Rockefeller Foundation, and included fellow panelists Tricia Martin, principal at WE Design; Emily Maxwell, New York City program director at the Nature Conservancy; Daniel Tainow, educational director at Lower East Side Ecology Center; and Stephen Whitehouse, principal at Starr Whitehouse.

Our conversations revolved around the critical importance of community engagement and participation to enable resilient communities. I highlighted our experience on Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City and the NY Rising Communities Reconstruction Program (for the Long Island south shore). Both of these projects exemplified the importance of integrating engineering design and decisions with stakeholder engagement (over 70 independent stakeholders for Hunters Point South) and community engagement (55 community meetings across seven months) to deliver resilient communities.

Overall, the event was an informative conference that provided some encouraging updates of the waterfront resiliency efforts occurring across the metropolitan area. Of course, it also helped that the conference occurred on a boat that circled most of Manhattan on a beautiful spring day!

Photo of Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City taken from the Hornblower ship during the conference. Hunter’s Point South was renowned as a resilient waterfront during Superstorm Sandy and was a case study Lee referred to during the panel discussion.

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