Evaluating the Success of Public Space As Flood Infrastructure: An Analysis of Resilience in Two Parks Post-Hurricane
Anya Domlesky (XL Lab at SWA Group)
Over the past ten years there has been increasing support for double duty infrastructure projects. Projects that promise green infrastructure with conventional grey infrastructure in addition to public space are increasingly being built in urban areas. A combination of public budget shortfalls impacting public space, infrastructure spending, and climate change risk awareness are forces that have contributed to this trend. After Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Harvey, the promise of this functional and social coupling was tested. Sites in both the Hudson-Raritan Estuary and the Galveston Bay Estuary were severely impacted due to rainfall, stormwater, storm surge, and coastal flooding. In a future where these events could become more common and/or more extreme, landscape architects and urban designers SWA and SWA/Balsley wanted to find out what worked and what didn’t in these public realm spaces. Against a backdrop of previous firm-led post-occupancy analysis on the firm’s built projects, XL Lab, SWA’s research and innovation lab, set out to gather metrics about coastal flooding and stormwater resilience at the site level. Two case studies provide lessons: one study done in part with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and Penn State University researchers on phase one of Hunter’s Point South Park in New York, and another following up post-hurricane on a previously completed LAF study with University of Texas at Arlington researchers at Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston. Lessons on what worked in the field during and after the hurricane events will be shared as well as a discussion of methods and data collection type and challenges, and the context of practice-based research and non-profit partnership. The talk ultimately asks how we can best learn about how these hybrid infrastructure-park projects perform during extreme events and employ that information to design better, more resilient places.