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 Research Projects 2020-2022

Envisioning in situ sea-level rise adaptation strategies for a densely developed coastal community, Waikīkī

Co-INVESTIGATOR: Charles Fletcher
Graduate Fellows: Josephine Briones, Ireland Castillo

Model with a shoreline and buildings
A physical model illustrates one technique of a living shoreline. (Model by Wendy Meguro.)

This proposal addresses the problem of adaptation of a coastal urban area to flooding as sea level rises in Waikīkī, with globally replicable methods. Waikīkī, the economic hub of Hawai‘i’s tourism, is located at low elevation, adjacent to the ocean. It is threatened by flooding for multiple reasons: sea level rise, high tide flooding, high wave events, and/or periods of rain. There are anecdotal reports of basements and parking garages that flood regularly in Waikīkī under present conditions. Waikīkī is too large to immediately retreat from sea level rise and will need to rely on an “in-place” adaptation strategy. To date, no such strategy has been described in detail. This project will provide visionary and quantitative details to move the adaptation discussion forward. This research converges science with design to create conceptual design renderings as part of the near-term research to help visualize sea level rise adaptation methods, compel community discussion, and motivate large-scale decision making toward a positively adaptive built environment in densely developed coastal communities. In addition, the team will create and share the design brief used to guide the conceptual designs, which will be based on input from stakeholders, precedent studies’ best practices, and emerging resilience guidelines.