Red Hook’s “lily pad” concept, where internal courtyards act as raised flood barriers.

Red Hook’s “lily pad” concept, with the courtyards providing elevation during a flood.

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Hana Kassem Reflects on Sustainability and Resiliency in The Washington Post Magazine

Adaptive design and the NYCHA Red Hook Houses are the focus of the Principal’s commentary in the recent article on resilience and climate change in architecture.

The group of architects featured in The Washington Post Magazine’s article, “A New Gold Standard for Green Architecture” by David Walter, advocate for adaptive design to further strengthen communities faced with increasingly severe natural disasters.

In partnership with NYCHA, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, KPF has created a resiliency program for the Red Hook Houses. Kassem states, “there’s not a specific aesthetic as of yet,” regarding adaptive design. Kassem’s strategy for defending against the natural flood plain of the area is to elevate the courtyards to create “lily pads” that serve as refuges during exceptional flooding but also offer public green spaces. “You don’t want the measures you take to constantly remind people of how vulnerable they are… You don’t want to add stress to people’s daily lives, for them to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m within the flood plain.’” Many of the most significant and functional adaptions are invisible to the viewer, such as strengthening foundations and tucking away backup generators.

Walter offers the reader a shift in mindset regarding resilient architecture, “this underscores a principle of climate adaptation: Instead of thinking of landscaping as purely decorative, ask: Is there a way that my acreage can serve as a protection from extreme weather?”

Read the article in The Washington Post Magazinehere.