From 16-18 February, 2017, RESILIÉNT/CITY was proud to support as co-sponsor the University Alliance Ruhr (NY), along with its invitees TU Dortmund University, Rutgers University and the University of Virginia at the “Water Resilient Urban and Regional Development: Transforming City Regions & The Urban Research Network,” a workshop to exchange best practices in regional development and water management. Local and international partners from German and North American universities, municipal representatives and the private sector focused on the lessons-learned from their respective global regions.
After a welcome by Peter Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the University Alliance Ruhr office in New York, Ambassador Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, opened the event with a personal note of the positive changes in his home region, the Ruhr Area. Two presentations delved into questions of water, regional development and the environment. Dr. Uli Pätzel, CEO of Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband, laid out the historical path of water needs of the once heavily industrialized Ruhr. After decades of mining and industry, the region now boasts over 300km of renaturalized waterways, bicycle paths and an extensive network of water treatment plants.
With a focus on New York City, Pippa Brashear, Director of Planning and Resilience at SCAPE, addressed the threats of climate change and the challenges of designing resilience projects. Her presentation on SCAPE’s Living Breakwaters, a project funded by Rebuild By Design, reminded attendees of the long-term effects of Hurricane Sandy and how local communities in Staten Island are re-thinking their co-existence with living in an urban-coastal context.
Professor Christa Reicher from TU University Dortmund opened Friday sessions with her work on polycentric city-regions, focusing on civic participation at the Phoenix Lake project in Germany. Speaking on ‘two scale urbanism,’ she described water as a “soft factor for urban development,” but also as an aesthetic factor. Professor Wolfram Höfer of Rutgers University shifted the discussion by integrating the current topic of resilience and urbanism. Highlighting research on risk mapping in metro New Jersey, Höfer underscored the importance of parks management in suburban resilience, a topic area often overshadowed by the concept of urban resilience.
After short exposés by American and German planners and the City of Vancouver, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner at BIG NYC, presented New York City’s “Big U” project, concluding Friday’s workshop. Bergmann discussed the city’s efforts to reduce risk of sea-level rise and climate change by “defensively looking at water as a threat.” The RBD-funded project relies on information from local residents. It integrates flood defenses from Manhattan’s East Side to the Hudson River coastline. A panel discussion with workshop participants, the Center for Urban Disaster Risk & Resilience and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction critically assessed the successes and challenges in resilience project implementation. The panel was moderated by Professor Ila Berman, Dean of the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture.
On Saturday, Professor Ila Berman moderated the final part of the workshop with presentations by Anthony Acciavatti and Iñaki Alday on the role of water and its challenges for agricultural, public health and municipal services in India. A historical tour of Liberty State Park in nearby Jersey City concluded a successful three-day workshop.