Boston’s Seaport District, Where Building Started Before Flood Preparation

The Boston waterfront has been booming, but the area is extremely vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. Measures to address those risks have come just recently.

1 minute read

June 22, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Boston Seaport

holbox / Shutterstock

The Seaport District of Boston has seen immense growth in the last decade, with construction of a slew of new office buildings, condominiums, and museums. But the area is prone to flooding, and projections show the problem will only get worse.

Yet developers and the city, eager to see the Seaport District transform, are just now moving to protect buildings from climate change threats. “Developers are elevating ground floors, putting electrical and other critical equipment on higher ones, and investing in salt water-resistant materials and flood barriers to protect garages and other vulnerable areas of buildings. Boston is planning a series of sea walls, berms, and other structures that will act like a barricade against Mother Nature,” write Prashant Gopal and Brian K. Sullivan.

Other cities, including New York and Miami, are also putting flood-protection measures into place. But observers of the Boston waterfront development say that building took precedence over planning for climate change. "No American city has left such a large swath of expensive new oceanfront real estate and infrastructure exposed to the worst the environment has to offer, according to Chuck Watson, owner of Enki Research, which assesses risk for insurers, investors, and governments,” note Gopal and Sullivan.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Aerial view of Eugene, Oregon at dusk with mountains in background.

Eugene Ends Parking Minimums

In a move that complies with a state law aimed at reducing transportation emissions, Eugene amended its parking rules to eliminate minimum requirements and set maximum parking lot sizes.

December 3, 2023 - NBC 16

Green Paris Texas city limit sign with population.

How Paris, Texas Became a ‘Unicorn’ for Rural Transit

A robust coalition of advocates in the town of 25,000 brought together the funding and resources to launch a popular bus service that some residents see as a mobility lifeline—and a social club.

November 30, 2023 - Texas Monthly

SMall backyard cottage ADU in San Diego, California.

San Diegans at Odds Over ‘Granny Towers’

A provision in the city’s ADU ordinance allows developers to build an essentially unlimited number of units on single-family lots.

November 29, 2023 - CALmatters

Aerial view of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah with snow-capped mountains in background.

How Salt Lake City Maintained a Vibrant Downtown

Unlike other major cities, the Utah capital’s downtown has seen a steady stream of visitors even as demand for office space diminishes.

December 8 - Governing

White modular home being installed on a lot.

Modular Homes Make Housing More Affordable in Chicago

Cheaper and faster to construct, modular homes provide an affordable alternative to traditional new construction for low- and moderate-income residents on Chicago’s South Side.

December 8 - WTTW

Woman bus driver sitting behind wheel of bus wearing long-sleeved shirt and yellow safety vest.

How Inequality Impacts Transit Safety

Transit workers are being assaulted by riders at alarming rates, and inequity may be partly to blame.

December 8 - Streetsblog USA

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

"Rethinking Commuter Rail" podcast & Intercity Bus E-News

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.