Resilient Houston

February 2020   Houston, TX

Client

  • City of Houston

Team

  • Water Institute of the Gulf
  • HR&A
  • Waggonner and Ball Architects
  • Kinder Institute

Category

Recognition

  • 2020 Resilient Achievement Gold Award, American Planning Association Texas Chapter

Resilient Houston is a framework for collective action. It provides an implementable roadmap to help Houstonians overcome future shocks—from hurricanes and flooding to extreme heat waves—and chronic stresses such as aging infrastructure, poverty, and climate change.

Key Points

Houston’s response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 validated the city’s readiness to make rapid and informed crisis decisions. But the city remains vulnerable to other shocks and stresses, which could undermine Houston’s efforts to thrive in a rapidly-changing global economy.

Housing

Housing strategies will preserve naturally occurring affordable housing and build multiple new types of housing for residents of all income levels in safe, complete communities. The project goal is to build at least 375,000 new homes across every income level by 2050.

Bayous

Renaturalizing Houston’s bayous will have numerous benefits, including reducing flooding, improving wildlife habitats, and increasing natural and recreation open space. Embracing the natural role of the bayous will improve Houston’s physical, environmental, and economic resilience.

Engagement

Stakeholder workshops and working groups prioritized goals and collective actions to protect Houston from future disasters and chronic stresses. Asakura Robinson led two working groups and contributed to many other engagement efforts

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Houston is a diverse, thriving metropolis in Southeastern Texas, driven by the large presence of the energy industry, renowned research institutions, and strong neighborhoods. Situated on the Gulf Coast, the city has worked to prepare for the extreme weather events and severe storms to which it is vulnerable. Houston’s response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 validated the city’s readiness to predict meteorological threats, communicate with citizens, and make rapid and informed crisis decisions. But the city remains vulnerable to other shocks and stresses, which, left unaddressed, will undermine Houston’s efforts to thrive in a rapidly-changing global economy. Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. To enhance local resilience, Houston joined the worldwide 100 Resilient Cities Network at the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. 100 Resilient Cities worked with the City of Houston to create the Resilient Houston strategy, assisted by a team of consultants that included Asakura Robinson. The Resilient Houston strategy was completed and officially launched in February 2020. By taking steps to address chronic stresses, such as traffic congestion, homelessness, and economic diversity, Houston will be equipped with the strong foundation needed to be prepared and responsive. Houston is investing financial, intellectual, and political capital not only in “building back” but also in “building forward” — strengthening long-term resilience by redesigning infrastructure, overhauling building codes, accelerating an affordable housing strategy, leveraging innovative partnerships, and coordinating regional policies. Resilient Houston is based on five themes:

  1. A Healthy Place to Live;
  2. An Equitable and Inclusive City;
  3. A Transformative Economy;
  4. A Leader in Climate Adaptation; and
  5. A City That Grows Up, Not Out.

The full report is available here.

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