TeamThe American Planning Association, The American Society of Civil Engineers, The Association of State Floodplain Managers, The National Association of Counties, The Nature Conservancy, Sasaki Associates
Sasaki was part of a partnership to develop an interactive
web-based tool—NRCsolutions.org—to help local leaders, planners, and engineers
identify opportunities for nature-based flooding solutions. Nature-based
solutions—like protecting dunes or restoring wetlands—can help mitigate
flooding impacts, while also providing significant additional benefits to
communities. Since 2006, the U.S. has experienced 23 major weather disasters
caused by hurricanes or flooding, resulting in more than $187 billion in damages
and 654 deaths. Beyond just increased frequency and impact of
disasters, communities across the country are confronting a growing number of
challenges and demands on their limited resources, such as economic
development, concerns of public health, and infrastructure spending.
Fortunately, investments in nature-based solutions to address flood impacts can
also provide returns in these other areas. NRCsolutions.org
is a tool to promote the use of nature-based solutions across the United
States. Working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the American
Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, the Association of
State Floodplain Managers, and the National Association of Counties, Sasaki’s
role included conceptualizing the interactive resource and technical
development of the website itself. In this role, Sasaki designed the user
experience and interface, created the branding of the site, and developed a
series of interactive visualizations. The goal was to create a site that
easily allows different kinds of users—from local leaders to planners to
engineers—to browse the more than 30 strategies and case studies and identify
opportunities that could be appropriate for their community. Because
flooding means different things to different kinds of communities, flexibility
was key; the website needed to make it easy for large or small, coastal or
riverine communities to easily identify relevant opportunities.
An example of Sasaki's multidisciplinary teamwork
in practice, the project was a close collaboration of many disciplines within
the firm: planners, landscape architects, ecologists, and civil engineers
worked alongside web developers, UX designers, and graphic designers. The site provides a range of information and a diversity of
starting points for different kinds of users. Decision-makers can browse
the high-level summary on the website’s interactive homepage, while engineers
can quickly drill down to learn more about a particular strategy that could be
appropriate for their community. The site’s branding and interface make
it easy for people to find information at a comfortable level of detail and
provide an appealing digital environment that encourages them to continue
Since launching in February 2017, the site has had over 7,800 unique visitors in its first three months—including 27% from countries outside the United States. Beyond that, the guide has made a major splash, having been featured in The Atlantic’s City Lab and E&E Climatewire. Additionally, each partner from the team has presented it at their respective annual conferences, with the guide receiving a special call-out at the opening plenary session of the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Convention. The success of the site reinforces the importance of collaborative design. By bringing together designers, engineers, computer programmers, and a broad range of partners, the development process incorporated diverse perspectives and led to an interactive website that is helping communities across the globe learn about nature-based solutions for flooding.
The Naturally Resilient Communities program is made possible with support from the Kresge Foundation.
For most of the Mississippi River Delta's history, its residents adapted to life within the natural ebbs and flows of the dynamic Delta. The channelization of the Mississippi River over the past century...