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Miami 2100 “Designing the Resilient City” panel discussion

Some people question Miami’s vulnerability to sea-level rise and hope for solutions to happen. But others take action to make a change. For Marilys Nepomechie, this was her chance to inform and educate an audience about the growing issue.

In February, the Coral Gables Museum hosted the Miami 2100 “Designing the Resilient City” panel discussion, in which the winners and finalists of the large international design competition, “Rebuild by Design,” communicated possible solutions for sea-level rise in Greater Miami.

FIU professors of Architecture Marilys Nepomechie and Marta Canaves organized the event to create awareness on sea-level rise and promote efforts toward a resilient city.

“Having this opportunity is given us dual platforms. One of them is to outreach people like yourselves for public education, for information, for gathering the kind of energy that we think is necessary for our community to address challenges ahead,” said Nepomechie.

Nepomechie moderated a panel with experts to discuss their landscape and urban designs, which support the potential adaptation of existing vulnerable infrastructures and neighborhoods for years to come.

Kai Bergmann, a partner at Big Architects, developed the “Big U.” His team met with different social groups and state senators, more than 40 different governmental and locals to inform, listen and obtain feedback on resilience.

The project started after hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, and it now deals with hurricanes and tropical storms.

“We looked at the qualities of all different neighborhoods and places to create resiliency districts,” said Bergmann. “We created a series of compartments to protect their vitality.”

He spoke about creating something usable and functional. He described a continuous wall that turned into a bench, an amphitheater, a kiosk or shops to protect, entertain and educate people.

“What was important was to create and educational facility that will actually educate everyone in the city on what resiliency actually is,” said Bergmann.

OMA Business Manager Daniel Pittman, spoke about the impact of energy for the future development of a long-term resiliency through the “Road Map 2050” project.

“We should focus energy and other resources to understanding the risk, the value and the impact,” said Pittman.

Landscape designer Daniel Vassini said dunes and dikes could work as multiple lines of defense, for a great capacity for water absorption.

According to Vassini, collecting data on the expansion of land fields and water measurements was just as important as building the Blue Dunes project.

“Data is fundamental to understand the behaviors of the waters,” said Vassini.

During the discussion, the audience brought up their concerns about safety levels and political will.

Museum Director Christine Rupp argued that someone needs to start making decisions for these designs to take place before it is too late.

Douglas Yoder, Director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer, responded that there is a series of resolutions and work going on to begin to identify a common set of assumptions on sea-level rise to determine what period of time and what kind of investments.

Jannek Cederberg, a marine engineer in the audience, added that Miami is well protected from hurricanes, but because sea-level rise is so predictable, we could slowly raise the infrastructure instead of getting it all done at once.

“It all comes down to a unified vision that requires policy and governmental oversight,” Bergmann replied.

“We are hopeful that political powers will understand that sea-level rise is real and is happening. We need to address it to save our communities,” Rupp added.