Embracing sea level rise with resilient design

With sea levels rising fastest on the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and in California, finding ways to stem the tide is increasingly difficult because shrinking glaciers continue to add water to the world’s oceans and increased global temperatures are expanding seawater. That’s why some of the brightest and most creative architects, designers and engineers from around the world are now innovating solutions that embrace water by integrating infrastructure that works with the ocean’s projected rise rather than just trying to stop it.

In fact, some notable examples of this emerging philosophy known as resilient design are currently on display at the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) gallery. The winning submissions from the Boston Living with Water competition are being shown through June.

A Google Earth image of the Fort Point Channel and Boston Seaport shows what the landscape looks like today. The artist's rendering above shows the same landscape after the 100-acre neighborhood is raised about 12 feet to combat sea level rise. Both images courtesy of Architerra.

A Google Earth image of the Fort Point Channel and Boston Seaport shows what the landscape looks like today. The artist’s rendering above shows the same landscape after the 100-acre neighborhood is raised about 12 feet to combat sea level rise. Both images courtesy of Architerra.

Similar to the Jacques Rougerie Foundation’s International Architecture Competition and San Francisco’s Rising Tides competition, Boston’s version challenged members of the international AEC industry to design ways to shield the city from sea level rise. These competitions are evidence that the seeds of innovation are being planted right now, to account for sea level rise and that cities such as Boston and San Francisco are giving this crisis the attention it deserves. After all, a report released last year said that Boston could see its harbor rise by as much as seven feet by the year 2100. Just last week, city officials announced that they might allow developments in coastal floodplains to build taller than is currently permitted so that electrical, mechanical and HVAC systems can be designed into the midsection of buildings rather than in the basements. This would not only protect mechanical systems against flooding, but it would mean owners don’t have to sacrifice valuable square footage.

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Lowering the ceiling to raise the roof

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An artist’s rendering of the Golden State Warriors’ new arena in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

As the NBA Finals come to a close this week with Golden State potentially winning its first title since 1975, we were impressed by Steph Curry and the Warriors once again blowing the lid off the infamously noisy, but dated, Oracle Arena in Oakland on Sunday night. We are equally impressed by the architects and engineers recreating that rock-concert atmosphere in Golden State’s gleaming new arena set to break ground in San Francisco this January.

With its low-slung ceilings and sound-reverberant concrete surfaces, Oracle is known to reach 120 decibels — that’s as loud as a jet engine!

An artist's rendering of a new park that would be planted at the foot of the Golden State Warriors new arena in San Francisco. Courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

An artist’s rendering of a new park that would be planted at the foot of the Golden State Warriors’ new arena in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

New arenas often disappoint fans yearning for the old-school flavor of their former ballparks, especially when it comes to the noise factor since sound loses steam the further it travels through air. So harnessing that energy inside a sleek modern arena that lacks concrete and is designed to be more open is a tall task that falls to the Machete Group and MANICA Architecture, whose owner, David Manica, worked on O2 Arena and the new Wembley Stadium in London as well as Beijing’s Olympic Stadium.

Two major ways architects are recreating Oracle’s fan experience from an acoustic standpoint are by limiting the new arena to 18,000 seats and by featuring only one level of suites in an effort to keep the ceiling low and the sound off the charts.

“We are working with world-renowned acousticians, and state-of-the-art acoustic simulators, to ensure that the new arena is just as loud and exciting as Oracle is,” Manica told us.

Game 6 of the NBA Finals is at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday night on ABC. For more on the Oracle and the Warriors’ new arena check out Sports Illustrated. For more on the science of sound in stadiums click here.

The reality of augmented reality

The following is the first part of a series on augmented reality in the AEC industry. 

While most people’s only exposure to augmented reality is that thin yellow line marking how far their favorite football team has to move the ball to complete a first down, the technology that overlays digital images on top of reality is no longer relegated to sports broadcasts. Augmented reality (AR) currently sits on the bleeding edge of several industries and sectors and is especially poised to become a mainstream tool in the architecture, engineering and construction fields.

In fact, Digi-Capital, a well-respected technology consultant and researcher, projected that revenues by businesses using virtual and augmented reality could hit $150 billion by 2020.

“That’s remarkable,” Paul Doherty — the president and CEO of the digit group, which designs and builds “smart cities” — told us. “We’re talking about stuff that only a few years ago was just in science fiction movies but … we’re living in a world where there are a lot of different experiments going on.”

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