Skip to Content

Resilience by design: can design make a difference?

Helen Lochhead

Thursday, April 17th at 6:30pm

BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with more frequent extreme weather events and rising sea level in progress, the vulnerability of coastal cities and towns has become a matter of urgency. But out of disasters can come opportunities for innovation. Post-Sandy, a range of new initiatives, tools, policies, governance frameworks and incentives are being tested, including competitions like Rebuild by Design. Design is seen as a key tool for dealing with complex problems by creating integrated strategies to build resilience, sustainability and liveability. Using the Rebuild by Design process as a case study, this lecture considers the possibilities for such a process to deliver projects and strategies that can be implemented and brought to scale.

Helen Lochhead an Australian architect, urban and landscape designer, is currently a Lincoln/Loeb Fellow at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Before taking up the Fellowship she was the Executive Director, Place Development at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and an Adjunct Professor at Sydney University. She is an architect and urban designer who combines teaching and practice. Her career has focused on the inception, planning and delivery of complex multidisciplinary projects ranging from a 5-year city improvements program for the City of Sydney to major urban renewal and waterfront projects.

Lochhead has been instrumental in shaping major precincts around Sydney Harbour, including the transformation of Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay from a sports precinct into a mixed-use community and parklands with environmental credentials that set new benchmarks. Most recently she led the development of 30 year plan for the transformation of Sydney Cove, the gateway to Sydney’s CBD. This complex process shifted her focus from specific project delivery to the broader context–interagency coordination and the mechanisms to achieve integrated outcomes around Sydney’s waterfront.

As a consequence this year she has been studying policy, design, strategic leadership and governance strategies that enable disparate interests to realize more sustainable climate resilient coastal cities. The Rebuild by Design competition process has served as a useful case study for this.