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For Release: Thursday, April 6, 2023

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 Climate-adaptive Design studio this fall. The Climate-adaptive Design (CaD) studio links Cornell University students in landscape architecture with riverfront communities to explore 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 prepare communities along the Hudson River for the challenges of our changing climate," said Commissioner Seggos. "These design efforts are better preparing New Yorkers for the threats posed by extreme weather events and sea-level rise on the tidal Hudson."

The CaD studio is a collaboration between the DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program and the Cornell University Department of Landscape Architecture. Student design teams meet with 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.

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."

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.

Last fall, the village of Tarrytown was selected to participate in the CaD studio. Students explored the waterfront, noted the low Metro-North Railroad commuter line, researched projected sea-level rise impacts using contoured topographic maps, and interviewed residents. Participating students learned the community wanted an accessible and welcoming green waterfront, walkability, connectivity to trails, and more civic space. Student designs used different approaches, including adaptation to sea-level rise, building relocation, and levees.

Riverfront municipalities in the tidal portion of the Hudson are eligible to submit a letter of interest to host the Fall 2023 CaD studio. All applicants are asked to characterize risk to their waterfront, identify relevant policy and planning efforts already underway, and demonstrate support from a diverse cross-section of waterfront stakeholders for participating in the CaD process. The host community must commit to engaging key stakeholders who will 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 principals after the end of the semester.

DEC has awarded competitive grants in the amount of $125,000 to communities that have previously hosted a CaD studio to advance the design and implementation of CaD-inspired projects on their riverfronts. In 2019 the village of Piermont and the city of Kingston received grants, and in 2021 the town and village of Ossining and the city of Hudson received funding to work with design firms to advance resilient waterfront project ideas.

Interested municipalities can learn more about the CaD studio (leaves DEC website) by visiting Cornell's website. An informational webinar about the CaD studio opportunity will be held on April 13, 2023, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. To register, please visit the webinar registration page (leaves DEC website).

A letter of interest must be submitted to Libby Zemaitis at by May 15, 2023. Visit the application page on Cornell's website (leaves DEC website) for instructions on submitting a letter of interest.

Funding for the CaD studio is provided by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and is administered by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University. Governor Hochul's 2023-24 Executive Budget sustains the EPF at a historic $400 million. 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.

The Hudson River Estuary Program helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River and its valley. Created in 1987, the program focuses on the tidal Hudson and its adjacent watershed from the Federal Dam at Troy to the Verrazano Narrows in New York City.

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