Designing Better Shorelines—with Nature - 1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)

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Sponsored by the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for Climate Week NYC

This webinar is free to all. 

When we design with nature, we help communities become more resilient to climate change. Living Breakwaters and the Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project in Staten Island, New York City, demonstrate how coastal communities can adapt to rising seas and increasingly intense storms. These innovative projects, led by landscape architects, work in tandem to reduce wave action and beach erosion, create wildlife habitat, and enhance public recreation.

The built environment not only includes buildings and concrete infrastructure, but also landscapes, which are increasingly critical for adapting to climate change. Landscape architects are responsible for planning and designing these nature-based solutions that bring maximum benefits to communities.

This dynamic panel with three leading NYC landscape architects will examine two projects that grew out of New York City’s response to Superstorm Sandy, which struck in October 2012. The storm was a wakeup call for the city to better prepare for the impacts of climate change. Sandy’s impact is understood to have been intensified by climate change -- higher ocean temperatures and sea levels may have contributed to the heavy rainfall and the stronger storm surge, which inundated parts of Staten Island and led to the death of several residents and billions of dollars in damage.

In Staten Island, Living Breakwaters is currently being constructed in the Raritan Bay. The Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project will be built on the shore itself. The landscape architects leading these projects will explain why we need to re-imagine our coastlines for climate change and future superstorms and how to do it.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn the importance of community involvement in resilience design decisions.
  • Understand how working with natural systems can provide multiple benefits in design, resilience, and habitat restoration.
  • Explore how a variety of landscape and engineering design solutions can work together to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

Pippa Brashear, ASLA


SCAPE Landscape Architecture

Resilience Principal at SCAPE, Pippa is a leading national expert on resilience planning and design. She works with multi-disciplinary teams to develop and implement landscape strategies and next-century infrastructure that integrate environmental, economic and social benefits. She leads both planning and built work teams within the firm, including SCAPE's Living Breakwaters project–approximately 2,400 linear feet of near-shore "breakwaters" designed to reduce risk and provide habitat for local marine life currently in construction off the shore of Staten Island. Her projects integrate systems thinking; natural and nature-based systems; engineering methods; and knowledge of implementation pathways to realize effective resilient design.

Donna Walcavage, FASLA



Donna Walcavage has focused on planning and design of public realm spaces across New York City. Her advocacy for the profession of landscape architecture as a partner to engineering solutions has demonstrated that good design alters public perception of infrastructure projects.

She currently co-chairs AIA NY’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee, where she has worked on storm surge, sea level rise and extreme heat. Current projects include a Shoreline Protection Plan for Tottenville, Staten Island and NYC Housing Authority’s Sandy Resiliency and Renewal Program at several sites in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Adrian Smith, FASLA

Team Leader, Staten Island Capital Projects

NYC Parks

Adrian Smith, FASLA is the Team Leader for Staten Island capital projects with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, a role he has held since 2016. He manages a team of 20 landscape professionals who design and build projects on Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, with an annual construction value of over $50 Million. Active projects include landscapes along Rockaway Beach and converting Fresh Kills landfill into a park. He previously held positions at several private design firms, in addition to maintaining his own practice. Adrian began serving as ASLA's Vice President for Professional Practice in 2020.


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10 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  8/10 points to pass
10 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  8/10 points to pass Successful completion of this quiz is required to earn your PDH for this webinar.
8 Questions
1.00 PDH credit  |  Certificate available
1.00 PDH credit  |  Certificate available