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September 29, 2020

Silman Resiliency Forum: How can we move past roadblocks to building resiliency?

  • Image credit: nARCHITECTS.
  • Image credit: LEVENBETTS.

How can our industry move past the roadblocks of building resiliency?

Silman seeks to answer this question by convening engineers, designers, policy makers, and academics to identify limitations and develop strategies for continued progress and innovation.

Over the course of four virtual sessions, we will facilitate discussions to better define the current state of resilient design in New York City. We intend to interrogate the moment where advanced flood mitigation planning meets the realities of building by building implementation, and develop strategies for ensuring that the best planning and thinking results in smart, effective, and comprehensive building protection.

Download a detailed agenda here.

View recordings of past sessions here.

Session 1: Setting the Stage – The NYC Waterfront

Tuesday, October 13th, 12:30 - 2:00pm Eastern

By examining the current status of resiliency work and study related to the NYC waterfront, this session will set the stage for the continued conversation of the Resiliency Forum. Speakers will provide a review of the present state of resiliency work within the industry and academia in order to illustrate the NYC built environment’s current level of preparedness for growing environmental stressors. Using a framework of current trends in executed work and studies, we will take stock of New York City’s preparedness or lack thereof. This is intended as act to springboard for future seminar conversations as we discuss how to push beyond current limitations in project design and execution.


Paul Lewis, FAIA; Principal, LTL Architects; Professor and Associate Dean, Princeton University School of Architecture
Sanjukta Sen, Senior Associate, James Corner Field Operations
Joy Sinderbrand, Vice President, NYCHA Recovery and Resilience Department

Register for Session 1

Session 2: Limitations of Current Resiliency Work and Study
Tuesday, October 20th, 12:30 - 2:00pm Eastern

Using recently completed project examples, this session will explore the design commonalities that have contributed to project successes or shortfalls. Speakers will provide a brief overview of key New York area resiliency proposals over the past several years, evaluate their strengths at differing scales of project scope, and analyze the roadblocks they faced, whether from a design perspective, a mismatch of community needs, or a lack of funding. This session will also examine fiscal, aesthetic, and technical motivations that have informed the preferred strategies of urban planners. From these examples, we aim to further a discussion how the shared elements of these designs might inform future work and process.


Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA; Founding Principal, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
James S. Russell, FAIA; Architect and Independent Journalist
Jesse M. Keenan, Associate Professor, Tulane School of Architecture

Register for Session 2

Session 3: Economic Considerations of Resiliency Work
Thursday, October 29th, 12:30 - 2:00pm Eastern

Within discussions resiliency work, a common factor leading to a project’s scope and success is the availability of financing. This session aims to deconstruct the processes of risk management and project valuation to provide insight on the economic challenges facing the implementation of resilient works. Additionally, flood insurance plays a crucial role in protecting the future of waterfront neighborhoods and informing the future of development or retreat. The program will examine the current state of the National Flood Insurance Program and discuss its benefits and pitfalls as we aim to prepare and protect communities from the future of sea level rise and climate change.


John D. Macomber, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
David I. Maurstad, Deputy Associate Administrator, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), FEMA
Elizabeth Malone, Program Manager for Resiliency and Insurance, Neighborhood Housing Services Brooklyn

Register for Session 3

Session 4: Competing Timelines
Tuesday, November 10th, 12:30 - 2:00pm Eastern

Despite an increasing urgency in preparing for flood events and coastal disasters, increases of public awareness and public consensus have not kept pace. Built environment projects can span years of from concept to completion, only compounding the immediate need to accelerate design and construction for a more resilient future while pushing public consensus forward. This program will facilitate a dialogue between policy makers and designers on the front lines of building resilient coastal communities. While primarily focusing on obstacles such as time and politics, they will also discuss non-technical hurdles they have encountered in their respective fields.


Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, AIA, ASLA; Principal, Catherine Seavitt Studio; Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, CUNY City College of New York
Amy Chester, Managing Director, Rebuild by Design
Stella Betts, Partner, LEVENBETTS
Sarah Dougherty, WEDG, WELL AP, Senior Program Manager, Waterfront Alliance

Register for Session 4

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