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Cities and Water: Friends or Foes?

Image © Gensler

When cities are confronted by sudden deluges, our immediate response is to get rid of the offending water, fast. In the past year alone, New York, Fukushima, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, and dozens of Chinese cities all faced widespread devastation at the hands of flooding. In times of extreme weather events, storm water is the enemy. Its ferocity can cause damage and kill.

All cities in coastal areas face the risk of flooding; this isn’t a surprise. And nearly every major city is located on a major body of water—whether it’s an ocean, river, or lake. So how can we design cities to plan ahead and prepare to leverage floodwater, rather than resist it? Can we redirect the power of storm water, slow it down, and even turn it into a temporary amenity for our cities? I say we can. Watch the below video above to hear my thoughts on the matter. You can also read my blog post for Fast Company’s Co.Exist blog here, and support my pitch to present at SxSW Eco by voting for my panel here.

Rives Taylor is an architect and educator in the wilds of Texas. As principal at Gensler, a leading global design firm, he helps lead the firm’s sustainable design practice. In his spare time, he lectures as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston and serves as a visiting Professor at Rice University, teaching architecture and sustainable design. Currently he’s working with the City of Houston and other cities to develop more livable neighborhoods and sustainable water management strategies that support growing urban areas. Contact him at rives_taylor@gensler.com.

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