CaD Studio: Phase I

The CaD Studio along the Hudson River

The CaD Studio links Cornell students in landscape architecture with flood-risk Hudson Riverfront communities to explore design alternatives for more climate resilient and connected waterfront areas. Community stakeholders are engaged throughout the studio to help inform the design process and support more usable results for the partner municipality.

The four-month design process begins with student design teams studying the community’s watershed setting, climate change projections, ecosystem context, and precedents for designing more climate-adaptive spaces, like floodable parks  and wet flood-proofed buildings. Each community presents new design challenges and opportunities for design innovation. Students infuse their designs with knowledge, opportunities, and challenges specific to each community that they uncover during site visits and interviews with local stakeholders.

Key themes

Key themes emerge from stakeholder input that inform the design concepts, for example:

  • Ecological resilience + marsh migration
  • Waterfront access and circulation
  • Economic development + historic preservation
  • Recreation + education
  • Industry + commerce

The CaD studio is led by Joshua F. Cerra at the Cornell Department of Landscape Architecture, in collaboration with Libby Zemaitis from the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Liz LoGiudice from Resilience Communications and Consulting, Scenic Hudson, and other partners. After the CaD studio ends, the Estuary Program and its partners are happy to support the community to continue exploring design concepts and linking in potential funding and support.

Village of Tarrytown

The 2022 LA7010/LA4010 design team was comprised of 15 graduate and two undergraduate students. This design studio investigated climate-associated flood and inundation risks to the Village of Tarrytown’s waterfront. The waterfront area is prone to flooding during today’s extreme weather events, compounded by sea level rise associated with climate change. Studio projects explored this new climate footprint and the future of the Tarrytown’s waterfront in ways that are culturally and ecologically resilient.

City of Poughkeepsie

The 2021 LA7010/LA4010 Design Studio combined 10 third-year graduate and 4 senior undergraduate design studio investigated climate-associated flood and inundation risks to Poughkeepsie, New York’s popular waterfront. The studio focused on the city-owned properties, including Waryas and Kaal Rock parks, and the Southern Waterfront brownfield re-development site.

Town & Village of Ossining

This third-year graduate design studio focused on flooding and other climate risks in the Town and Village of Ossining, NY.  This year’s design team was comprised of 11 graduate students in the LA7010 Design Studio. The proposed design concepts explored developing a buffer zone, elevating the rail line, inspiring citizen science, facilitating marsh migration and land contouring, and enhancing access to the Ossining waterfront.

City of Kingston III

Kingston III was our most recent Climate-adaptive Design studio in the City of Kingston. This project investigated planning and design implications of emerging municipal climate adaptation interests for the East Strand area in City of Kingston. Cornell Landscape Architecture’s 2018 LA6020 second year, second-semester graduate studio developed eight design concepts for the East Strand area. This set of alternative design strategies generated options for climate adaptation addressing a range of interests including floodable open space, marsh migration strategies, nature-based shoreline interventions, community features, and development interests while seeking to link interventions to the ongoing growth of Kingston’s waterfront.

These new creative thinkers… opening the door to helping Piermont not only see the future, but to lead us into the future.
Vincent O’Brien, former village trustee, Piermont, NY

Village of Piermont

Cornell Landscape Architecture’s 2017 LA4010 fourth year, first-semester undergraduate studio focused on the Piermont municipal waterfront situated along the mouth of Sparkill Creek as it enters the Hudson River about 25 miles north of New York City. Historically the Piermont waterfront was the location of a paper mill and coal-fired power plant. It is now a regional destination for recreation and leisure. Five alternative design concepts were developed for the Village of Piermont. Each generated options for climate adaptation providing a combination of adaptation, reinforcement, and relocation approaches.

City of Kingston II

This was the Climate-adaptive Design studio's second site project in the City of Kingston. The design teams investigated planning and design implications of flooding and sea level rise on Kingston Point Park, a popular waterfront recreational location for Kingston's inhabitants. Cornell Landscape Architecture’s 2017 LA6020 second year, second-semester graduate studio developed ten alternative design concepts, with options for transitioning the recreational, ecological, and commercial assets of the area as sea level rise, flooding and other projected climate impacts shift the footprint of Kingston Point Park.

Thank you so much for coming… the work that I saw has completely changed the way I think about waterfront development.
Mayor Hamilton, City of Hudson, NY

City of Hudson

The Climate-adaptive Design studio focused on the South Bay waterfront area of Hudson, New York as the basis for this planning and design effort. Located well inland from the mouth of the Hudson River as it exits into the Atlantic, the city was once a strategic port for America's whaling industry. Cornell Landscape Architecture’s 2016 LA6020 second year, second-semester graduate studio developed eight alternative design concepts for the South Bay project area. Collectively the proposals generated options for floodable retrofit of historic buildings, floodable park spaces, maintenance of the rail connection to NYC with sea level rise,  assisted marsh migration as water levels change, and flood-adapted development alternatives in certain areas.

Village of Catskill

The first Climate-adaptive Design studio studied the downtown area of Village of Catskill, New York. The downtown area has recently harbored a growing and vibrant art community composed of artists, galleries, and theater interests above the Catskill Creek waterfront. Cornell Landscape Architecture’s 2015 LA4010 senior undergraduate design studio developed five alternative design concepts for the downtown Catskill project area.  Collectively, the alternative design concepts proposed strategies to reintroduce Catskill's waterfront as a key asset to the Village by enhancing circulation and access between the waterfront and downtown, creating attractive waterfront features, and improving the ecological and recreational value of the shoreline itself.