Skip to content

Pier Pressure: Addressing Ecological Opportunities of Nearshore Infrastructure in Lake Washington’s Union Bay

Along much of Seattle’s freshwater shorelines, seemingly isolated problems like erosion and shading are compounded and repeated by docks, piers, and houseboats.

This results in a much bigger ecological problem: the erasure of the critical nearshore habitat that supports all life in the lake. What innovations in nearshore infrastructure design can provide multifunctional benefits for people and the environment?

This design thesis considers the existing conditions of five representative zones along the University of Washington’s waterfront. Insights from restoration ecologists, engineers, local experts, and trends in aquatic infrastructure inform the design of this urban site. Pier Pressure proposes holistic solutions through a systems approach that enhances built interventions through ecological design.

Reimagining the amphibious city: From health data to ecological design in an Amazonian informal community

Water circumnavigates the Amazon River Basin’s urban centers, blurring lines between city and river. As Amazonian cities swell, growing populations inhabit the seasonally flooding edges of the urban landscape. These amphibious communities, which are adapted to both high and low river seasons, are often informal and are disproportionately vulnerable to health risks tied to socioeconomic inequality, climate change, and urban systems. Though Indigenous architecture has designed with Amazonian hydrology for millennia, colonial ideas of the form that urbanization should take eschew amphibiousness. This design research focuses on the amphibious informal community of Claverito, in Iquitos, Peru to examine the built environment as a social determinant of health and to ask: What is the role of evidence-based ecological design in informal community upgrading? How can health data center people in informal community redevelopment to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals? How can a landscape systems approach to built environment design mitigate risk of exposure to water-related infectious diseases while contributing to city-wide resilience?