adaptation collaboratory

Student Design Project Pays Off in Unexpected Ways - Floating Houses?

Virginian Pilot Photo by David B. Hollingsworth

Virginian Pilot Photo by David B. Hollingsworth

Snapshot: In a newly inundated environment, we need new approaches, including trying out houses that float! One of our former student partners in the Collaboratory is continuing his innovative design work with a floating house proposal to deal with flooding in coastal Virginia. Willie Parks, the architect involved, is a local fellow from increasingly soggy Pungo in Virginia Beach and one of the students leaders on our project in Chesterfield Heights. Exciting to see this.

Backstory: A regional hub of innovative ideas, Global Shapers Norfolk, is looking at a novel solution to the problem of frequently flooded houses….houses that float above the rising tides. This novel idea involves an old friend of ours, Willie Parks, an architect working locally with RRMM Architects. Parks is no stranger to resilience design, having been a leader in the first resilience design efforts in Virginia.

In the fall of 2014, Wetlands Watch partnered with a team of architecture students from Hampton University and engineering students from Old Dominion University in the historic community of Chesterfield Heights in Norfolk, Virginia, to see if we could come up with designs to flood proof that community. That award-winning project went on to earn a $120 million grant to revitalize the Ohio Creek Watershed. The work was a partnership involving Wetlands Watch, Virginia Sea Grant, Hampton University (Professor Mason Andrews), Old Dominion University (Professor Mujde Erten-Unal), Green Building Council-Hampton Roads, and numerous individual collaborators. It was the start of the Collaboratory, funded by the Adiuvans Foundation, to continue this work to match knowledge to need in solving our resilience problems.

One of the goals of this work is to expose emerging professionals in the novel challenges that sea level rise and frequent flooding bring to coastal regions. Parks and Global Shapers are taking that challenge to new heights, above the rising tides. We wish them luck and congratulate Willie Parks.


Wetlands Watch is Finalist in National Resilience Competition!

Coastal Community Resilience Challenge in Virginia

Coastal Community Resilience Challenge in Virginia

Snapshot: Wetlands Watch has been working on sea level rise adaptation for nearly a dozen years. We have a full adaptation agenda that includes practical approaches, like training the landscape professionals who will do the resilience work. We pitched that to the “Coastal Community Resilience Challenge” being run out of Norfolk, Virginia, and were one of 7 finalists out of 51 international proposals. Final pitch comes up in February.

Backstory: Everyone talks about “nature based solutions” to flooding and stormwater management, but few think about who will do this work. Wetlands Watch has been working for nearly a decade on this issue, efforts that evolved into the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) program, a Virginia-Maryland effort to train and certify landscape professionals in nature-based practices. The CBLP trains and certifies landscape professionals from designers, to installation professionals, to landscape management crews. The program’s goal is to expand the trained workforce as demand increases for landscape-based/nature-based stormwater and flood mitigation approaches.

As the CBLP grows and expands into other Chesapeake Bay states, we want to develop an intense effort in coastal Virginia, developing appropriate practices and training landscape professionals about them. With expanded certification we hope to develop a “brand” for the CBLP that will give certified professionals a preferred status in bidding for work, given their ability to insure performance and sustainability of the installations.

One special aspect of our proposal is the use of the “CBLP-A” apprenticeship program, where we bring new, younger practitioners into the profession in an apprentice training program. The other element we are excited about is using our university-local government partnership program, the Collaboratory, to bring academia into this area of development.

We are preparing our final “pitch” now and hope to be successful in February.