Theses Master's

Planning for Urban Resilience through Biomimicry in the Design of Public Waterfront Spaces

Borja, Kevin

The New York City waterfront is an imprecise combination of nature and artifact. Urban waterfronts have evolved from natural landscapes to industrial manufacturing areas, and increasingly to areas of mixed-use. With that evolution comes waterfront public spaces, such as riverfront parks and shore public walkways that also need to react and adapt to a changing climate. However, there are technological advancements and policy implementation time lags inherent in the built environment that have affected the performance of these spaces in times of human-made and natural climate disasters. This study examines the creation of public space in waterfront redevelopment with the emerging field of climate-reactive design for urban resilience in the context of New York City.

This study is done in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development 13th Goal “Climate Action”, New York City's OneNYC initiative, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management study. These three institutional reports aim to fight against climate change through the collective reduction of greenhouse gas emission and strengthening our built environment with physical interventions. Through qualitative analysis, this study reveals how planning and development mechanisms interact with climate resilience strategies, specifically through the lens of open space, and argues that a biomimetic approach to urban design can help mitigate the effects of time lag on open spaces.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Woodward, Douglas
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 25, 2019