Designing with Risk: Balancing Global Risk and Project Risks

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


The World Economic Forum, in their yearly global risk report which highlights the most significant long-term risks worldwide, consistently indicates that the ‘failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation’, as well the interconnected ‘water crises’, ‘greater incidence of extreme weather events’ and ‘food crises’, are among the top 10 global risks of highest concern. It is evident that the built environment will play a central role in fostering resilience towards such risks. Within the production of the built environment, at the same time, there is a concern with an altogether different set of risks, those related to the feasibility of a project. ‘Project resilience’, the capacity of a project to cope with shocks and stresses that are related to its feasibility, is often in conflict with ‘global’ resilience goals. Successful implementation of resilience projects in the built environment, such as ‘The Big U’ (of which the author is a co-design- lead), depends on designing the right balance between the two. In this paper, based on the author’s work on ‘The Big U’ and its successor projects, as well as on two interdisciplinary seminars at PennDesign, ‘Designing with Risk’, the author presents the research into this question, and propose that designers can have agency in balancing the two risk types in resilience projects.


Climate-adaptive design Urban resilience Community engagement Risk management Adaptation pathways Big U Rebuild by design New York City 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of DesignUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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