Breaking the Frame: Innovative Galveston Bay Park Offers - Comprehensive Storm and Ecological Protection

This year’s Design Futures Council Leadership Summit invited industry experts and city representatives from across the country to meet in Minneapolis to examine where we are as an industry in achieving our sustainability goals and the challenges we face now and in the future. The plan for Houston’s Galveston Bay Park is at the forefront of this topic. Rob Rogers was joined by Rice University’s SSPEED Institute’s Jim Blackburn and Phil Bedient to present the project’s background, the plan’s components, and what is necessary to ensure its success. Formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008, the team’s proactive approach to the project revolutionizes how the industry interacts with local public agencies and supports initiating viable solutions to critical needs. For everyone who missed the conference, the Design Intelligence Quarterly offers interviews of conference presenters.

Creating Communities – Updates from the City + the Coast

Where we live, work, play, and learn is critical to our well-being. As architects, urban planners, and landscape architects, we have the ability to impact the built environment. From the inner city to coastal regions, our Fall Newsletter offers both a recap of completed work and a look ahead of projects coming online in 2020, each uniquely integrated within each community. This summer we celebrated the opening of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club’s first new clubhouse since the 1970s in Upper Harlem along with the completion of a multi-phase renovation of the landmark Claremont Stables Building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In a few short months, we will celebrate the completion of three ground-breaking projects across the country. Check out our newsletter to learn more and stay tuned! If you would like to sign up to receive our newsletter, please email us at

Rice University’s Kraft Hall Closer to Completion

Scheduled to open for the Spring 2020 semester, Rice’s newest academic building nears completion with the installation of the façade’s fins, which provide solar control for the curtain wall, and the courtyard’s River Birch trees, further forming this space as the new heart of campus. The Kraft Hall for Social Sciences combines multiple academic departments and research institutions within one building to serve the largest section of the University’s undergraduate population while also offering professional, masters, and Ph.D. programs. The architecture and programming simultaneously respect the existing campus context and as well as the need to look ahead. Centered around outdoor spaces that encourage collaboration and linked to a future planned axis that will connect the campus and Houston community, the architecture brings forward a new concept for a Rice building. Materials and detailing are presented at a human scale on the ground level and a multi-story curtainwall above wraps faculty, students and researchers in abundant daylight. A diagonal cut through the ground floor plan recognizes the movement of students and faculty from the traditional campus axis to the new South Axis.

St. Pete Pier - Protecting & Enhancing Coastal Towns

We are currently in the peak of hurricane season, the New St. Pete Pier design is aligned with one of Climate Week’s categories, Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change. The new resilient structure, which sits 11.5 feet above sea level to meet the new 100-year flood plain requirements, is designed to withstand 155 mph winds and severe storms that has a 1% chance of hitting on any given year. The Pier also integrates ecologically significant components that offer visitors a close-up glimpse of southwest Florida’s most critical coastal upland and marine habitats. While coastal development has severely diminished vital marine resources, the Pier not only preserves existing resources, but will enhance habitats through creative environmentally engineered solutions. The project occupies a minimal footprint within the waters of Tampa Bay, just 5.21 acres. In consideration of the existing sensitive marine resources, the New St. Pete Pier will include pervious decking and landscaped areas in addition to a concrete deck surface and a new reef structure containing native lime rock and oyster reef sections will dampen erosional effects of wave action and provide habitat.

Nanotronics - A Sustainable Manufacturing Process

An important Climate Week NYC 2019 issue focuses on Industry Transitions; exploring innovations that involve cleaner energy sources like clean hydrogen, renewables, biofuels, synthetic fuels along with strategies for carbon capture, storage, and use. Through sustainable design, construction method innovations, and the debate between new construction vs renovation the A/E/C Industry has a direct impact on the environment with each completed project. Designed to be cleaner and more efficient than traditional factories, a new manufacturing and research facility to be built for Nanotronics in a 150-year old building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard will be the City’s first “smart factory”. The adaptive re-use on legacy infrastructure greatly reduces carbon footprint. While the construction of the main shell for a similarly sized facility would result in approximately 1,971 metric tons of embodied CO2, the newly constructed portion of the project is estimated to embody approximately 425 metric tons on CO2. The design incorporates sustainably manufactured Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction for the new interior portion, where the CLT operates as a carbon sink, storing an estimated value of 411.2 metric tons of CO2, effectively offsetting the new construction’s emissions.

Stewart Beach Masterplan - Planning for Change, Protecting from Storms, and Educating for the Future

The design industry is intricately imbedded in Climate Week NYC’s initiatives, most specifically the programs and issues focusing on resilience and adaptation, health and wellbeing, and energy transition. Balancing the need for spaces that promote wellbeing with the realities of Climate Change, Rogers Partners is working on a master plan for Stewart Beach Park in Galveston, Texas to offer new, resilient structures and amenities. Elevated 22 feet above the FEMA base flood elevation, these new structures are being designed for a 75-year lifespan with materials that will endure the harsh climactic conditions of the coast as well as the impact from anticipated severe storms. Referencing the Texas vernacular, these structures also employ passive ventilation methods, wherever possible, to reduce energy demands. Environmental education is woven into the experience with displays that tell the story of dune systems and barrier island ecology.