Rockefeller Awards $4.6 Million for Bay Area Resiliency Challenge

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a $4.6 million grant in support of efforts by a coalition of Bay Area leaders to create a competition aimed at catalyzing innovative and sustainable infrastructure solutions for the region.

Starting in April, the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge will invite designers, architects, developers, and financial supporters to create and begin implementing ten visionary, realistic, and replicable design solutions. Each solution must help communities in the nine counties bordering on San Francisco Bay to adapt to the impact of rising sea level, more frequent storms and flooding, and seismic vulnerabilities while protecting vulnerable populations, enhancing the natural environment, and strengthening critical infrastructure.

Modeled after the award-winning Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition pioneered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, the competition will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, teams from around the world will use a three-month exploratory research and community engagement period to develop initial design concepts for specific sites. That will be followed by an intensive, five-month design phase during which teams will work in partnership with Bay Area residents, businesses, community-based organizations, and political leaders to develop more detailed, replicable, and implementable projects.

In addition, the competition will forge ties with the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities network, which is seeking to help a hundred cities build greater resilience to thrive in the face of twenty-first-century climate and environmental challenges. Home to three cities in the network — Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco — the Bay Area already is working to identify solutions to such challenges. In 2016, for example, the three cities released comprehensive resilience strategies, each of which cited climate change as one of many stresses that — if not addressed — could ultimately put the region in jeopardy. The Bay Area challenge was created in alignment with the resilience strategies developed by the three cities.

"Across the Bay Area, increasingly frequent flooding is putting more and more strain on aging infrastructure, while continued sea-level rise is threatening coastal resources. These are real and serious challenges, and they require real and serious solutions," said Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin. "We are incredibly excited to take all that we learned from our successful Rebuild by Design program — as well as the best practices developed by our 100 Resilient Cities — to help the Bay Area keep disruptions from becoming disasters. Our hope is this challenge will tap into the innovative and collaborative spirit that defines the Bay Area to solve the growing problems facing our communities today — particularly for the poor and vulnerable."