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1. What is resilience?

Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within the Bay Area to survive, adapt, and grow as the challenges of climate change, natural disasters, and a growing population impact our outdated infrastructure and environment. Often, resilience is seen primarily as a response to a disaster, but here in the Bay Area we are addressing long-term vulnerabilities and pressures that residents and communities experience every day. These issues are deeply intertwined with housing, health, income disparity, and social justice, which is why resilience is also about breaking down silos. It’s a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach that brings together local and regional support to leave a legacy of a better, stronger, safer Bay for everyone to enjoy.


2. What does By Design mean?

The Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is “by Design” because it takes advantage of the expertise and ingenuity of the local and international design community to inspire and accomplish resilient solutions for the Bay Area. Relying on a process that drives continuous improvement, the “by Design” model incorporates many different expert perspectives and puts community voices at the forefront to ensure broad public support.

A resilient solution that is “by Design” will enliven the public’s imagination. It ensures that communities examine more than the technical aspects of climate change and infrastructure, by addressing how people are affected by sea level rise. Relying on the innovative and collaborative spirit of participants, Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge will show the global community what it looks like to lead the world in developing community resilience.


3. Who is behind Resilient by Design?

Resilient by Design is a true regional collaboration, bringing together local and regional support from government, foundations, community members and advocates, institutions, industry leaders and businesses. Led by local residents and stakeholders, the Resilient by Design process is community-driven and will meet the needs of people most affected because it empowers local residents to participate throughout the life of the challenge: site visits, community conversations, and on-the-ground research are at the heart of this collaborative process.

The backbone of this effort is a proven model. It is based on the award-winning Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, which was pioneered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation. A bold program built on public-private collaboration, Rebuild by Design brought innovative solutions to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut following Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact.

Throughout the challenge, Resilient by Design will work in conjunction with The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, an organization and movement helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges of our time.


4. How can the Bay Area Challenge be used as a model?

The Bay Area is often looked to as the most innovative region in the world, and the Resilient by Design: Bay Area Challenge is rooted in the same future-forward ideals that have shaped our innovation economy. The Bay is known for our ability to find solutions to today’s large-scale, complex problems, and this challenge creates the opportunity to address the need for comprehensive resilience that will prepare the Bay Area for existing and potential challenges brought on by climate change.

Our community is only as strong as all of us, and the Bay Area’s most economically and socially vulnerable communities are located in, or in close proximity to, shoreline areas that often are the least resilient. The reality is that sea level rise, increasingly severe storms, flooding, and seismic vulnerabilities will impact economically and socially vulnerable communities first. This challenge will help develop solutions that address the intersection of climate change and regional challenges such as housing, transportation, and inequality. Furthermore, it can ultimately be used as a model for cities facing similar vulnerabilities.


5. Why now?

Rather than wait for a natural disaster, the San Francisco Bay Area can proactively reimagine a better future by creating a blueprint for resilience that harnesses Bay Area innovation and serves as a model for communities around the world. The Bay Area is acutely aware of the always-present risk of seismic activity that threatens our communities’ vitality, but like the rest of the world, we do not always know how local action can address the global issue of climate change.

At the end of the challenge, Resilient by Design will leave a legacy of a better, stronger, safer Bay Area for everyone to enjoy and will build our region’s much-needed resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes. Additionally, the need for resilient solutions is compounded in our region by housing and income disparity challenges that face an increasing number of Bay Area residents every year.


6. How does it work?

The challenge begins with an open call to our local communities and global experts and consists of two phases. Both phases will rely on a heavily engaged public to guide Design Teams to resilient and community-based solutions. Internationally renowned Design Teams from around the world will apply to join Resilient by Design, and selected teams will enter the Collaborative Research phase of the challenge. In this three-month period, Design Teams will learn about our unique regional challenges through exploratory research and community engagement. From this research, Design Teams will gain an understanding of what it will take to develop initial design concepts for specific sites that are responsive and supportive of the local community.

Design Teams will then each focus in on their selected site for a five-month intensive Collaborative Design phase, with teams working in partnership with residents, businesses, community-based organizations, and political leaders to develop more detailed, replicable and implementable infrastructure projects. At the end of the challenge, Design Teams and their community partners will have created 10 final designs that are resilient, aspirational, replicable, implementable, and most importantly, have strong government and community support.



7. Are there key dates or deadlines?

On May 31, 2017, the Design Brief was released on Resilient by Design’s website.

On July 7, 2017, the Design Team application period will close.

In early September of 2017, the Collaborative Research Phase for ten selected Design Teams will commence.


8. Does anyone win?

The entire Bay Area community will be stronger, more prepared and resilient in the face of climate change and natural disaster, and ready to take head on the challenges of today and tomorrow. Resilient by Design will lay the groundwork for our communities to continue working to address complex issues with a new set of tools, resources and best practices. While not all sites suggested by the community will be matched with design teams, Resilient by Design will leave a legacy of a better, stronger, safer Bay Area for everyone to enjoy.

Final designs will be judged by an esteemed jury, and results will be announced in May 2018. The challenge will look for every Design Team to show strong stakeholder support and be aligned with the resilience strategies adopted by the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley as part of the 100 Resilient Cities Program. These include, but are not be limited to: a focus on multi-stakeholder, multi-benefit problem-solving strategies; a recognition of the need for a regional strategy; and, a focus on equitable and measurable community engagement and integration into existing sea level rise action plans.


9. How can I suggest a site or specific project for my community?

In the coming months, our open and transparent process will kick off by asking local residents and organizations to share ideas and suggest sites around the Bay Area that are vulnerable to the threats of climate change. This process will ask people in our local communities to suggest one or more sites where action and investment have the potential to enhance community resilience.


10. How can I get involved?

Community members: At the end of May, Resilient by Design will invite community members to participate in this unique challenge and help suggest local sites that are vulnerable to the threats of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes via an online submission page. The submission page will be hosted on Resilient by Design’s website and will accept site and project suggestions from interested community members through July 14, 2017. Both online and offline, community members will share their experiences, insights, priorities and dreams for local sites, so that Design Teams can better determine community priorities and be inspired to develop responsive plans.



Design Teams: The Request for Qualifications is open for teams of local and global thought-leaders, architects, engineers, public finance experts, educators, and ecologists to join forces and participate in an intensive and collaborative community-based research process. In August 2017, jurors will select qualified and diverse Design Teams to join our communities in addressing our local challenges based on their knowledge and expertise to strengthen the capacity of local communities, and their ability to bridge the gap between scholarship and practical action.




11. How will communities implement final designs?

Final designs will be based on the input and collaboration of local government, businesses, and community leaders, and an unprecedented amount of public and private support is expected to be developed throughout the process for project implementation.

While Resilient by Design does not include a dedicated funding source for project implementation and all projects will need to undergo environmental review and a competitive bid process prior to construction, various funding sources have already been identified, including Measure AA. 



12. Isn’t climate change a global problem?

Climate change knows no borders. Resilient by Design is an opportunity for the Bay Area to reimagine how we connect with water, protect waterfront communities, and ensure a sustainable and healthy Bay. It is a chance for the Bay Area to reimagine the intersection of climate change and other regional challenges vulnerable communities experience, such as housing, transportation, and inequality.

We believe the Bay Area should take a leadership role and show the world how to transform climate change into an opportunity to engage with pressing urban issues. This process will yield a wealth of new knowledge and understanding about issues unique to our region, and can be shared to inspire similar efforts throughout the world.


13. Who can I contact if I have further questions about Resilient by Design: Bay Area Challenge?

Do you have a question that is not answered here? Contact us at