Press Release

AECOM and Partners Reveal Vision for Resilient San Leandro Bay

Floating neighborhoods, underwater highways, and cross-jurisdictional cooperatives could build social and environmental resilience for San Leandro Bay area

SAN FRANCISCO (May. 18, 2018) — The AECOM-led All Bay Collective (ABC), one of nine teams participating in the Resilient by Design (RBD) Bay Area Challenge, revealed its proposal for San Leandro Bay at the Resilient Bay Summit, held yesterday at the conclusion of the yearlong challenge.

Estuary Commons: People, Place, and a Path Forward
The team quickly realized that the challenge was as much about housing affordability, displacement, health, jobs, and access to public resources as about rising sea and groundwater levels. Estuary Commons creates a network of public spaces, adapts ecological systems, and strengthens social and economic relationships for a future of community-driven resilience.

ABC co-developed the design proposal with representatives from eight community groups: East Oakland Collective, Oakland Climate Action Coalition, Scraper Bike Team, Merritt College Brower Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies, Planting Justice, HOPE Collaborative, East Oakland Building Health Communities, and Repaired Nations.

“We came to this challenge as a team of technical and academic experts,” said Stephen Engblom, Global Cities Director at AECOM. “We leave as committed allies in community-driven planning, enriched by our collaboration with neighborhood and agency representatives. We see the San Leandro Bay Estuary representing the dawn of a new era in city-making – an era when community priorities are at the heart of important decisions and residents prosper in harmony with rising water levels.”

ABC explored three concepts in imagining a resilient future for the San Leandro Bay area:

• Tidal City
• Resilient Corridors
• Resilient Equity Hubs

ABC proposes to create a Tidal City by floating whole urban neighborhoods in new saltwater lagoons and using excavated dirt to build landforms to protect these floating neighborhoods. “It may seem crazy to float cities in tidal ponds, but it makes sense in California. Floating foundations can keep us safer in dangerous earthquakes and the landforms around ponds can protect people from waves,” said Kristina Hill, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley.

Interstate 880 in Oakland is at imminent risk of flooding as sea level rises. ABC proposes to create a Resilient Corridor by digging I-880 under areas that will flood instead of building it higher. In addition, putting a coastal highway into a tunnel can help mitigate air pollution, which sends kids in East Oakland to the hospital with asthma attacks every day. “Planners have been building highways over water for 60 years – it’s time to do future generations a favor and build them under the water instead. That way, we are investing in our children’s future – making sure they won’t have to pay to replace bridges that are too low as sea levels continue to rise,” said Chris Guillard, Partner at CMG Landscape Architecture.

ABC proposes to establish Resilient Equity Hubs that promote the sharing of resources across jurisdictional boundaries to build wealth and support social resilience. To make this possible, the team developed a community toolkit including In It Together, a sea level rise adaptation game that brings stakeholders together around a map of San Leandro Bay to explore possible resilience actions and weigh their trade-offs. “We’ve played the game many times with diverse stakeholders, and it’s been great to see people have fun navigating such serious topics,” said Janette Kim, Assistant Professor, California College of the Arts.

While the formal RBD Bay Area Challenge comes to an end, ABC team members will continue to work with community groups to implement Estuary Commons and increase the social and environmental resilience of San Leandro Bay, as well as to share the lessons learned from this challenge with other cities worldwide.

AECOM (NYSE:ACM) is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network of experts to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure, to resilient communities and environments, to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM had revenue of approximately $18.2 billion during fiscal year 2017. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at and @AECOM.

About the All Bay Collective (ABC)
The All Bay Collective (ABC) is a diverse group of locally based/globally experienced professionals, academics, students, and policy makers. They have come together to fuse science, design excellence, academic leadership, community outreach, and business innovation to make the Bay Area more responsive to the people who live in it and sensitive to the environments shared.

ABC team partners: AECOM, CMG Landscape Architecture, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, California College of the Arts, Berkeley Center for New Media, The Terner Center, IDEO, Silvestrum, SKEO, modem, David Baker Architects.

ABC’s partnership signifies a creative synergy that ignites academic discovery and research to professional practice. Together they have an extensive record working closely with cities and communities on climate issues in the Bay Area and around the world. A unique piece of their approach is to create teaching, learning, and outreach programs, which they organized for the fall and spring semesters of 2017/2018 at the UC Berkeley and the California College of the Arts to coincide with the research and the design phases of the Resilient by Design Challenge. ABC believes an important benefit of the Resilient by Design Challenge is the ability to deliver a lasting educational legacy of well‐trained students who will become the next generation of planning and design professionals with a strong foundation in resilience.

About Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge
The new solutions are the result of a unique year-long research and design project, Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, that brought the world’s leading designers, architects, artists, engineers, scientists, communities, students and more together with a new but simple premise: what if we could take on one of our biggest challenges by challenging teams of innovators to come up with new ideas to help our region? The Bay Area was selected to host this design challenge because of the region’s deep history of innovation, creativity and community coupled with the urgency to act. The Challenge is a collaborative research and design initiative that over the last year has connected design leaders to community members, local leaders, and national experts. In a year-long challenge, nine Design Teams of landscape architects, engineers, designers and other experts will work alongside community members and local government to identify critical areas along the San Francisco Bayfront and propose exciting new solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes.

Media Contact:

Jacob Herson