Galveston Bay

Initiated Spring 2018

Faculty Rob Holmes [Auburn University] + Brian Davis [Cornell University]

[Auburn University] Yuanyuan Gao, Yuzhou Jin, Jaspuneet Kaur, Looja Shakya, Radhika Shenoy
[Cornell University] Yiren Du, Jacob Kuhn, Caterina Brescia Lolas, Trevan Singorelli, Yuchen Tong, Blake Enos, Eric King, Aziz Alrifaie, Woo Choi, Naixen Ren, Christian Umana

Galveston Bay is home to Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, and is one of the most diverse cultural and ecological communities in North America. Its environment has been shaped by storms and the responses of designers, engineers, planners, citizens, sediments, and ecosystems to those storms, including the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, Ike in 2008, and Harvey in 2017. Climate change is likely to intensify this relationship between the bay, urban life, and storms. Beyond Barriers is a project that considers the value of coastal infrastructure to existing human and ecological communities of the Bay and develops new strategies for deploying landscape-based strategies to reimagine productive relationships between infrastructure and regional communities. Today there is growing recognition that there is an urgent need to find ways of living along the Bay that are less vulnerable and more adaptable. Both government agencies and non-government organizations have been looking at how to best protect coastal communities, valuable infrastructure, and vulnerable industrial sites, including the nation’s largest collection of petrochemical plants, pipelines, and storage facilities. These efforts have included both the partners coordinated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Texas General Land Office (GLO) on the Coastal Texas Study, and non-governmental entities, like the SSPEED Center based at Rice University. 

The work of Beyond Barriers took place in Spring 2018, through a collaboration between the USACE’s Galveston District, the Texas GLO, the USACE’s Engineering With Nature® program, and landscape architecture students and faculty at two universities, Auburn University and Cornell University. The following pages describe the nature of the Coastal Texas Study, the aims of the Engineering With Nature® program, how the work of landscape architecture relates to the Study and EWN, and the collaborative process that unfolded in Spring 2018.

We (Prof. Holmes and Prof. Davis) would like to thank the personnel of the Galveston District USACE, the Texas General Land Office, and the Engineering With Nature® program for their engagement, funding, and support for the students, which not only permitted this product to emerge but produced a deep, rich, and valuable learning experience for our students.

We would also like to thank our students for diving into this complex, challenging and ultimately rewarding situation with us, as well as our fellow faculty and various review critics who contributed insight at various stages of the projects.

We would also like to acknowledge our colleagues who helped organize and participate in the EWN+LA workshop at ERDC in Summer 2017, including our colleagues in the Dredge Research Collaborative, fellow landscape architects both in the USACE and without, and the leadership of the USACE EWN program; without the discussion and collaborative atmosphere that arose from that workshop, this project would not have been possible.

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Student Work