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For Release: Tuesday, March 15, 2022

DEC Announces Climate-Adaptive Design Studio Opportunity for Hudson Waterfront Communities

Innovative Design Projects to Reduce Flood Risks and Help Communities Adapt to Climate Change

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced an opportunity for Hudson Riverfront municipalities to host the Cornell University Department of Landscape Architecture's Climate-adaptive Design (CaD) Studio this fall. The CaD Studio links Cornell University students in landscape architecture with communities interested in exploring design alternatives for more climate resilient and connected waterfront areas.

"DEC is proud to partner with Cornell University and local experts on the ground to help prepare New York's waterfront communities for the challenges that go hand-in-hand with our changing climate," said Commissioner Seggos. "The Climate-adaptive Design Studio opportunity announced today supports New York State's ongoing efforts to boost and improve community readiness for the threats posed by extreme weather events and sea-level rise on the tidal Hudson River and is an example of the all-hands-on-deck approach required to meeting the climate challenge head on."

The CaD Studio is a collaboration between DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program and the Cornell University Department of Landscape Architecture. Student design teams meet with community members and other local stakeholders to develop an understanding of the unique waterfront opportunities and challenges, focusing on public access, economic development, as well as ecological and climate resilience. Over four months, the students create waterfront designs that encourage water-dependent use of shoreline property, provide public access to waterfronts, improve resilience to current and future flood risk, and use nature-based solutions for stormwater management and shoreline stability. Community stakeholders have opportunities to provide feedback to student teams as the designs are developed, and the host community is provided with the designs at the end of the semester.

Brian Rahm, Director of the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University said, "The design studio, one part of a long-term partnership between DEC, Cornell University and Hudson Valley communities, is the creative force driving conversation about inspiring and practical climate change adaptation opportunities."

Riverfront municipalities in the tidal portion of the Hudson are eligible to submit a letter of interest to host the Fall 2022 CaD Studio. Applicants are asked to characterize risk to their waterfront, identify relevant policy and planning efforts already underway, and demonstrate support from a cross-section of waterfront community stakeholders for participation in the CaD Studio process. The host community must commit to engaging key stakeholders to interact with the student design teams through in-person and online meetings. The host community must also demonstrate willingness and ability to promote and advance CaD Studio concepts and principles after the end of the semester.

In 2021, DEC awarded $250,000 grants to the town and village of Ossining and the city of Hudson, previous CaD Studio host communities, to advance the design and implementation of CaD-inspired projects on their riverfronts.

Interested municipalities can learn more about the Climate-adaptive Design Process (leaves DEC's website) by visiting the Cornell CALS website. An informational webinar about the CaD Studio opportunity will be held on April 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Register for the webinar (leaves DEC's website). Interested participants must submit a letter of interest to Lyndsey Cooper, Hudson River Estuary Program Climate Outreach Specialist, via email at by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 2022. Visit the Cornell CALS website for instructions on submitting a letter of interest (leaves DEC's website).

Funding for the CaD Studio is provided by New York's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and is administered by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with the New York State Water Resources Institute. In her 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.

Photos of previous design projects Courtesy of NYSDEC:

Four people sitting around a table on an outdoor patio looking out to trees and a river.
Poughkeepsie CAD Studio stakeholder meeting to review Cornell student design concepts incorporating nature-based solutions for stormwater and shoreline management in the city of Poughkeepsie.

Studio-design of Kingston Point Phase II wetand and dock. Studio-design of tiered beaches at Kingston Point
Kingston Point Phase II- Kingston wetland and dock; tiered beaches at Kingston Point. Supermass Studio designed the climate-adaptive wetland and dock and tiered beaches for a Kingston Point climate-adaptive to enhance native tidal wetlands while integrating public access corridors and recreational opportunities. The firm evaluated sea-level rise scenarios at Kingston Point beach, which is already experiencing flooding, and provided the necessary design, engineering, and permitting documentation for the city of Kingston to finalize the plans. ($125,000 contract awarded May 2019)

Design for Piermont Phase II - shoreline vegetation and other natural elements.
Piermont Phase II. Henningson, Durham and Richardson Architecture and Engineering, P.C. (HDR) designed a living shoreline that incorporates vegetation and other natural elements, such as oysters or mussel beds, with harder shoreline structures to stabilize and protect Piermont's waterfront. ($125,000 contract May 2019)

People gathered around a table to review the designs for the project.
The CAD II stakeholder meeting photo shows community residents reviewing the designs.

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