Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Resilient by Design?

Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is an open-call to dream, design, and create resilient solutions that address the impacts of climate change in the Bay Area. The Challenge is grounded in authentic community-generated ideas and input, critical to shaping the future of the Bay Area.


2.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to survive, adapt, and grow as the challenges of climate change, natural disasters, and a growing population impact our outdated infrastructure and environment.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.


3.How do I get involved in Resilient by Design?

Resilient by Design invited community members to help suggest local places that are vulnerable to the threats of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes. These site ideas will be used to inform the Collaborative Research Phase and Teams' proposed Design Opportunities.

During the Collaborative Research Phase, we encourage you to attend in our public events around the Bay. Your participation and voices are needed to make this a truly regional effort.

Throughout the Challenge, we will be inviting community members who 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.


4.What is a Design Team?

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


5.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.


6.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.


7.What types of places will be part of the challenge?

The entire Bay Area is part of the challenge, and our open and transparent process will kick off by asking local residents and organizations to share ideas and suggest places and specific 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.


8.How do I share my ideas and suggestions with Resilient by Design?

Throughout the Challenge, 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. The public open call for Site Ideas ended in July 2017.  You can view the collected results here. Please email with any ideas or suggestions.


9.I’m not a designer. Can I still be a part of the challenge?

Yes. Local community members are key partners in this effort, and will be involved in suggesting sites for review in the Collaborative Research Phase, designing and participating in tours and events in that phase, and working closely with Design Teams once the design opportunities are chosen to develop solutions for the Collaborative Design Phase.


10.How will Design Teams select project sites and on what criteria?

Design Teams responded to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) outlining their approach to resilience, but not specific site locations. After participation in the Collaborative Research Phase, the Design Teams will propose 3-5 design opportunities they feel like they are best qualified to address, and will address the most impactful and implementable design opportunity in the Collaborative Design Phase.


11.Have other cities done something like this before?

Resilient by Design is modeled after the successful Rebuild by Design challenge that addressed infrastructure needs in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut following Hurricane Sandy. You can learn more about those efforts at


12.How does the challenge help mitigate the effects of climate change and prepare the Bay Area for natural disaster?

The result of the Challenge will be 10 new implementable projects that offer a creative and collaborative approach to resilience. By seizing the critical need to address climate change as an opportunity to bring about a stronger, safer Bay, we are protecting shoreline communities and preparing for the local challenges brought on by sea level rise.


13.How does the challenge protect wildlife and our environment?

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, protect wildlife habitat, 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 wildlife and our environment.


14.Will anyone win? How many winners will there be and when will they be announced?

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; demonstration of feasibility from a technological and engineering perspective; 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.


15.What happens after the winners are selected at the end of the challenge?

Our work is not done. We’re committed to turning these ideas—invested in and created by communities—into real world models and solutions for other cities to implement.


16.How can I connect with Resilient by Design?

There are many ways to connect with Resilient by Design and our Design Teams, including:

  • Sign up for our email updates
  • Follow us on social media
  • Invite others to participate in the Challenge