sea level rise
Benita Lily Cheng,
Xintian Stella Li,
Section of flood mitigation design strategies that incorporate planted areas and built-up berms.
The Rhode Island Sea Level Rise Studio analyzes the risks of Aquidneck Island, RI, due to sea level rise and proposes five projects throughout the Island to improve the Island’s long-term resiliency and sustainability.
Aquidneck Island is the largest island in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay and is known as a picturesque, coastal retreat that has attracted visitors to its beautiful beaches for centuries. While the island has a long history of adapting to the sea, sea level rise (SLR) is changing this relationship faster than ever before. This poses a unique threat to Aquidneck Island’s economy and way of life.
Our studio explores resilient planning measures within each of the municipalities of Aquidneck Island: Newport, a center of maritime tradition and tourism; Middletown, known for diverse natural landscapes and farmlands; and Portsmouth, home to shipbuilding and agricultural activities alike. Each has its own deep sense of place and cultural heritage, yet all are socially and economically interconnected. The studio explored island-wide road and water infrastructure work, managed retreat planning in Portsmouth, and two district redesigns in Atlantic Beach, Middletown and North End, Newport.
The Island-wide Road Infrastructure Protection project evaluates the vulnerability of the existing road network, proposes a decision-making model, and uses case studies to explore future asset-scale adaptation choices. The Enhancing Source Water Protection project in Middletown explores new ways of protecting the watershed, creating sustainable financing mechanisms, and centralizing community tools to ensure improved water quality.
The Managed Retreat project in Portsmouth provides policymakers with a decision roadmap to reference when developing a long-term, community-forward adaptation plan that includes retreat as an option. The roadmap highlights important trade-offs that policymakers need to consider at key points to build resident buy-in and maximize the natural benefit of the land in flood mitigation.
The Atlantic Beach District Redesign project focuses on a commercial hub in Middletown at Easton’s Beach. This project evaluates the district’s resiliency to SLR and addresses the studio goals of protecting residents, celebrating Aquidneck Island’s identity, and fostering a resilient economy. Ultimately, the district will be markedly changed by SLR, but the businesses and people that make the Atlantic Beach District a vibrant destination have multiple pathways to adapt to this change.
The North End Redesign project builds off the recent North End Plan in Newport. This area is currently slated for several development projects, bringing in public and private investment. Our project builds on extensive climate planning efforts already underway to provide recommendations for how the corridor can accommodate both new development and climate change impacts.
The studio explored island-wide road and water infrastructure work,