50 ACRES PROJECT BRIEF
Fort Point & Boston Harbor, Massachusetts USA
The "Fan Pier" of the Fort Point neighborhood, located on the low-lying coastline Boston Harbor, was constructed over a century ago of infill. The area was originally conceived to support the conveyance of harbor-to-rail goods. Recently, the area has seen a proliferation of planning and commercial high-rise development. During the construction period of the Big Dig (1997-2007), a transportation tunnel under the harbor, the city, state and local community alike focused on what the redevelopment of Fort Point would and should be. These early planning efforts, including the planning of the Big Dig itself, occurred in awareness of documented flood zones (FEMA), but prior to the acknowledged, critical need for coastal resilience strategies to address rising sea levels.
Planning authorities, have since implemented large-scale studies and planning efforts to address the imminent impact of rising seas on their coastal populations and industries. Julie Wormser, for example, representing the Boston Harbor Association recognized that "today's 100-year flood could be 2050's annual flood and 2100's high tide." (Nov 2014)
The counter-intuitive boom of recent development in this categorical flood plain, however, appears to have been more informed by the financing cycles of traditional development practices than by recognized reality of global sea-level rise. The status quo strategy for "resilience," a sacrificial ground floor, belies the current inadequacy of design solutions (realized parcel by parcel) to address a systemic, regional threat.