Theses Master's

Move it or Lose it? Heritage and Community Relocation in an Era of Coastal Sea Level Rise

Prache, Ariane

This thesis seeks to investigate planned relocations as an inquiry into how preservationists ensure that heritage is institutionalized, attempting to understand the limits of preservation’s toolbox in dealing with planned relocations and what new sorts of methodologies can be applied to the process. Historically, the preservation response to rising sea levels has been to adapt in place – Venice is building a sea wall to prevent further flooding, the Jersey shore has been lifting houses above future flood levels after the Hurricane Sandy disaster, etc. However, there will, and already are, instances in which we can no longer adapt in place– where retreat from the coastline will be necessary, and we will have to abandon entire cities and move communities. Are we, heritage professionals, ready to face the need to abandon entire cities and move communities? Do we have methodologies in place to integrate heritage into the planning of managed retreat of entire communities?

This thesis uses a deep-dive study into the ongoing relocation of the community at the Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, in an effort to understand in a more focused manner how heritage can be intertwined with managed retreat, and what lessons can be pulled and applied at a larger scale. By investigating this case in greater detail, the questions asked during this research focus on three main areas: heritage as applied to new design, heritage as a method for facilitating community engagement, and heritage’s involvement at the levels of planning and policy. The conclusions drawn from this investigation aim to inform a larger inquiry into the involvement of heritage in the planning and designing of managed retreat in the future, analyzing current tools and proposing new methodologies.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for PracheAriane_GSAPPHP_2019_Thesis.pdf PracheAriane_GSAPPHP_2019_Thesis.pdf application/pdf 3.59 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Avrami, Erica C.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2019