WSU students design for sea-level rise, flooding, drought

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture communications

SanFrancisco sea level chart PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University students will present their ideas for mitigating sea level rise to San Francisco Public Works 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, in Carpenter 312 on the Pullman campus.

Twelve students from landscape architecture, civil engineering, and environmental sciences developed urban design strategies that might help communities on the east side of San Francisco adapt to sea level rise, flooding and drought that are predicted during the next century. The students collaborated on six semester-long projects with city experts in water planning, hydraulic engineering and sustainable transportation.

Biodiversifying Resiliency chart

3-5 foot rise by 2100

Sea level rise is of increasing concern in coastal areas. San Francisco is one of many urban areas around the world that is located along coastlines that will face the challenge in the coming century. Models predict that the area will see three to five feet of sea level rise by the year 2100.

These projects came out of five workshops students participated earlier this year with community members, city staff, professionals and youth in a San Francisco neighborhood that is at high risk for future flooding and vulnerability. The students led workshop presentations and facilitated design games that enabled youth to work side by side with experts and community members and to generate consensus-based design alternatives.

SanFrancisco sea level chart

Nearby communities

Wednesday’s presentation will feature several of the projects that came out of the workshops. A master plan for coastal resiliency for the east side of San Francisco aims to enhance San Francisco and the bay’s biodiversity while building long-term resiliency along the coast.  Other projects will focus on site-specific designs to address recurrent flooding for the Embarcadero, the neighborhoods between the Mission Creek and Islais Creek, and the Green Benefit District of Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill.

The community workshops and service-learning projects came about as part of WSU’s Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative. The program is led by Hope Hui Rising, landscape architecture professor in the WSU School of Design and Construction.

Rising will also be presenting adaptive water urbanism design guidelines and demonstrating their potential applications for San Francisco, Seattle and Baltimore at noon Thursday, May 11, at the Bay Area Council in San Francisco following the Resilient by Design Challenge Sneak Peek event.


Media Contact:
Hope Hui Rising, professor, School of Design and Construction, 503-962-0220,

Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture communications, (509) 335-5095,