Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative

Welcome to the Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative, an integrated program of teaching, research, and outreach at the Washington State University.

The initiative translates cutting-edge research into adaptive planning and design solutions to help communities transform sea level rise, drought, and the compounding effect of coastal, river, and inland flooding into environmentally and financially sustainable place-making opportunities.

Here is a list of courses being offered this fall:

1) LA362 Resilient by Design Studio: a design studio with eleven junior landscape architecture students working on adapting various parts of the Bay Area to the rising tides.

2) LA327 A Theory of Landscape Architecture for Climate Adaptation: a seminar course that uses landscape performance as a lens to explore resilient by design as a theory for climate adaptation and to distill design guidelines and visual prototypes for adaptive water urbanism from precedents.

3) LA333 Bay Area Field Trip: a nine-day field trip to various bayfront locations in need of adaptation to rising tides and recurrent flooding. The students will have the opportunities to work with professionals, city staff, and stakeholders in design game workshops to acquire hands-on climate adaptation education.

The initiative offered the following courses last semester:

1) Design Research Internship: an applied research position that investigates the human factors of ecodistrict-making through the nexus of water, food, and energy,

2) LA363 Adaptive Water Urbanism Studio: a design studio with six junior landscape architecture students,

3) LA499 Rainworks Challenge: an experiential course with eight students from architecture, interior design, civil, structural, and environmental engineering, environmental sciences, ecosystem sciences, and geospatial analysis, and


4) LA365 Grading and Stormwater Management: a technical course  that prepares students for the professional licensure exam and for addressing sea level rise, drought, and flooding through innovative grading techniques and storm water management solutions.

An interdisciplinary team of 14 students from LA363 and LA499 worked with San Francisco’s youth, citizens, experts, city staff, and the San Francisco’s Green Benefit Districts (GBD) to identify public realm improvement opportunities for adapting the GBD to sea level rise, drought, and recurrent flooding. For project information, check out our San Francisco page. To learn about our upcoming workshops in San Francisco, check out our January blog on the workshops.

In Fall 2016, the initiative offered LA470 Adaptive Water Urbanism Studio where six senior landscape architecture students worked with Seattle youth, experts, and city staff to help conceive potential sea level rise adaptation design strategies for South Park and Georgetown.  The two Seattle communities are located just south of the Elliott Bay along the Duwamish River – a channelized river with highly contaminated water and sediment with at least 12 feet of daily tidal fluctuation. For project information, check out the Seattle and videos pages.