Herrera Announces Completion of Sea2City Design Challenge

Herrera is thrilled to announce the completion of the Sea2City Design Challenge. Beginning in 2021, this design challenge hosted by the City of Vancouver brought together two multidisciplinary teams over 12 months to craft and hone long-term visions and near-term actions to adapt to sea level rise, accommodate urban development, and foster ecological revitalization in False Creek over the coming century.

As a key member of the Mithūn/One Architecture team, Herrera collaborated on the development of innovative coastal adaptation approaches that integrated nature-based solutions to sea level rise, restored ecosystem processes, and creative strategies for managing upland stormwater runoff and mitigating flooding across a phased timeline that spanned a century or more of climate change. 

Indigenous knowledge, leadership, and design from Host Nations’ representatives played an integral role in the project. Our team underwent an invaluable decolonization process centered on indigenous perspectives and values in our planning and design efforts. Working alongside First Nations knowledge keepers and cultural advisors, including Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Cory Douglas of the Squamish Nation, we collectively crafted a cultural narrative that contextualized and focused the plans we co-developed and honed the language we used to describe them. 

Through the decolonization process, we learned about the value of experiential, immersive storytelling, and the connections that indigenous peoples had and have with land and water in the region. We also revised and softened our language to move from a human-centric, controlling lens to a more harmonious, connected lens. In the end, the proposed strategies create a vision where the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people can see themselves, their values, knowledge, and culture represented.

Working alongside the City, a community advisory group, and local youth, the team developed two pilot projects that integrate flood protection measures, habitat creation, and traditional knowledge. The first project consists of a forested berm that tests new tree cultivars. The design also includes plant guilds that adapt to changing temperatures and supports red cedars, yellow cedars, and sequoias. The second pilot project consists of a habitat bench designed for people, marine life, reuse, and decay. The team also conceptualized a Blue Green Corridor to manage and reduce upland rainwater impacts while protecting against sea level rise. These conceptual designs will inform the next steps for the City to develop more detailed design and planning. 

Herrera is proud of our work with this team to develop a vision of a waterfront resilient to climate change while addressing the social equity, economic, and ecological needs of the community. We are excited to bring a decolonized perspective to future work and to continue our learning in this realm.

Please contact Andrea MacLennan or Brian Busiek, PE for more information on this project.