Adaptive Infrastructure: Flooding and Sea Level Rise
Hill invented the term “adaptive infrastructure” to identify a new approach to infrastructure design and planning -- an approach that emphasizes the urgency of adaptation to climate change. Her research approach involves three main components:
1. partnering with colleagues in engineering and science to develop models that can predict the performance of new physical designs for the shore zone;
2. developing design proposals for the shore zone that combine cultural values, economic benefits, and ecological goals while increasing urban resilience to flooding; and
3. evaluating the functional potential, cost, and financing options for adaptive infrastructure systems.
In order to protect human lives, support future mobility, and enhance ecosystems as well as equity, infrastructure must be reconceived as symbiotic with dynamic, living systems. The economic goal of building adaptive infrastructure is to make every dollar invested in infrastructure do more “work” by insisting on multi-functionality. Pipes, walls, and bridges need to be transformed into structural scaffolds with multiple benefits. These scaffolds can be designed to interact with self-organizing systems of plants, animals, and cultural behaviors to create more benefits for society. For human rights reasons, setting functional priorities for these systems must include creating benefits for human aesthetic experience and quality of life.
Hill’s recent work in this area has contributed typologies of coastal adaptation history, vulnerabilities and strategies, and a vocabulary for describing the aesthetic experiences that are created by infrastructure. She has worked with students over the past 10 years to generate physical design proposals for coastal cities, in New York, Virginia, New Orleans, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay area.
Her previous work on urban water infrastructure systems in Seattle and New Orleans has informed these coastal projects, helping identify ways in which the engineering, ecological and cultural priorities of river and pipe systems will interact with coastal changes.
Recent Publications and Projects
Hybrid Edges for the San Francisco Bay (spring 2014), graduate studio projects
Hill, K., “The New Age of Coasts: A design typology,” Topos vol. 87, pp. 16-21, 2014.
Stevens, R., K. Hill, N. Burgess and A. Grady, "New Beach Designs as Urban Adaptation to Sea Level Rise," Landscape Research Record 1 (2014): 176-187.
Hill, K., “Biodiversity, climate change, and urban design,” in Designing Wildlife Habitats, ed. J. Beardsley, Harvard University Press, 2013.
Hill, K. and L. Larsen, “Adaptive Urbanism,” in Landscape Urbanism and Its Discontents: Dissimulating the sustainable city, ed. by A. Duany and E. Talen, New Society publishers, 2013.
“Climate-Resilient Urban Waterfronts,” in Climate Adaptation and Flood Risk in Coastal Cities, J. Aerts et al., editors; Earthscan, Amsterdam, 2012.
Hill, K. and L. Sasso, “Crisis, poignancy and the sublime: Cities and flooding,” Topos, vo. 78, pp. 47-50, 2011.
Hill, K., “Urban Design and Urban Water Ecosystems,” pp. 141-170 in The Water Environment of Cities, Lawrence Baker, ed., Springer Publishers, New York, 2009.
Diercke, P, and K. Hill, “Regional Strategies for New Orleans,” pp. 18-25 in Dutch Dialogues II, ed. by
Han Meyer, SUN Publishers, Amsterdam, 2009.