Living with Water® is an approach to water-resilient urban and building design developed by Waggonner & Ball in the years since Hurricane Katrina.
Living with Water begins the process of transforming water from threat to asset.
Recovery requires cooperation. Resilience requires vision. These are two of the important lessons learned in the immediate aftermath of Katrina as coastal Louisiana and neighboring regions struggled to address storm-related environmental challenges (coastal surge, subsidence, urban storm water, aging pump and water-management infrastructure) and their related long-term
The Living with Water workshop model has been successfully deployed in exploratory engagements in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Charleston, New Orleans and with Rebuild by Design in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It has transformed how cities approach economic (re)development in relation to water, catalyzed water entrepreneurship and job creation through resilience building and stimulated citizens to become part of the region’s systemic effort to reduce flooding.
Waggonner & Ball is located in New Orleans, where
the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, and our collaborative Living with Water™ approach to resilient design is grounded in the place where we live and work.
Our design approach is based on Living with Water™ and Building with Nature. Like water itself, these concepts cross borders, disciplines, and scales. Our methodology begins with a regional awareness and layered strategies at increasingly higher resolutions in order to integrate
systemic and structural measures.
We approach resilience, planning & implementation with an emphasis on ecology, history, and character
With a diverse team of community members, design
professionals, and government officials, Waggonner &
Ball is currently working to protect the neighborhood’s
assets – including regional power production facilities,
historic structures, public housing, and a private
university – from risks posed by intense coastal storms
and heavy rainfall events, which cause repetitive
losses from flooding and power outages.
To date, the Resilient Bridgeport project includes a coastal defense system to protect the perimeter of the South End Peninsula, interior stormwater infrastructure improvements, street raising with improvements to lift the surrounding development datum, and re-envisioning the entry to the historic Olmsted designed Seaside Park.
Issue 1: Design Conditions
Issue 2: Adaptation at the Water’s Edge
The Living With Water approach has resulted in over $400 million in federal resilience awards since 2016.
The New Orleans region has been surrounded
and defined by water since its founding.
However, flooding from frequent rainfall and land
subsidence from current drainage practices are
frequent and growing challenges.
Building on the firm’s award winning Dutch
Dialogues New Orleans workshops, Waggonner
& Ball led the Greater New Orleans Urban Water
Plan, a water-based landscape and urban design
proposal that illustrates how the region can live
with water rather than fight against it. The Plan
employs a multi-layered, ground-up approach that
is science-based, place-based, and adaptable. We
convened and coordinated a large international
multidisciplinary team to develop the multiscaled,
actionable strategy. Waggonner & Ball’s
leadership has created a shift in public policy and
project implementation, urban planning, and increased support for best practices of urban water management vision in the city and region.
Waggonner & Ball is the prime consultant for Resilient Hampton, which builds upon earlier work from the Dutch Dialogues Virginia workshop that the firm also led. The City of Hampton committed to a holistic, multi-phase effort that includes citywide planning, addressing resilience with a local military base, and the design of specific projects that will create multiple benefits. This
broad, comprehensive, and long term strategy values existing assets while planning for future adaptation.
The Phase 1 Living With Water Hampton document is the first step in creating a strategy for a resilient city by identifying both threats and community values. Analyzing the main forces of water in Hampton – storm surge, tidal action, stormwater, and groundwater – help understand the current condition and plan for the future. A framework of principles, goals, and values developed from place-driven analysis, including public workshops and community meetings. Understanding places that share common water conditions will guide
future projects, and an evaluation tool will assist with prioritizing implementation of resilience efforts.
A partnership with Langley Air Force Base developed a unique, unprecedented addendum to a previous Joint Land Use Study in order to prioritize design strategies for resilience and adaptation, so that the City of Hampton can continue to support the base.
Funded as part of the HUD-initiated National Disaster
Resilience Competition (NDRC), the Norfolk Ohio Creek
Watershed project aims to reduce risk from nuisance
flooding and coastal inundation for two neighborhoods
along the Elizabeth River. The project is organized into
three major strategies: coastal defense, Living With
Water®, and connectivity with amenities.
Waggonner & Ball was the lead designer on the NDRC
application and is the lead architect and urban design
for the implementation phase of the project.
A coastal protection alignment, designed as a
continuous berm or floodwall, encircles the edge of
the historic Chesterfield Heights neighborhood to
reduce risks posed by increasing storm surge due to
sea level rise, reduce coastal erosion, and expand tidal
ecosystems through integration of a living shoreline.