Stories of death and destruction occupied the news in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that, earlier this year, wrought widespread damage across the Florida panhandle and South Carolina. Yet, one community fared better than all others, despite its location in the hurricane’s path.
In 2015, developer Syd Kitson, a former professional football player for the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, founded Babcock Ranch as a community of 2000 homes constructed for resilience. Located 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, the community’s streets were engineered to flood so the houses would not. Buried power and Internet lines avoided wind damage, and the landscape helped control stormwater. The solar-powered community kept the lights on with its utility-scale array; and a supplemental solar-plus-storage system ensured power even when the grid went down.
Constructed under the strictest Florida building codes, the community survived relatively unscathed through a hurricane that destroyed neighboring towns. Babcock Ranch is a proof of concept for the adaptation community, a development trend that will likely sweep the country as the fact of global warming’s furious climate impacts becomes undeniable.
In 1985, another development trend came from the Florida panhandle. Seaside introduced the walkable community concept in response to automobile-driven sprawl. The architectural visionaries behind the ubiquitous trend toward walkable urbanism now champion a radical idea in adaptation communities. Since 2015, Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk—creators of Seaside, principals of DPZ CoDesign, and among the founders of New Urbanism—have addressed the building industry’s response to climate change by advocating for adaptation over mitigation.
On the drawing boards at DPZ, future neighborhoods and cities are envisioned. The planning and architectural studio designs for developers and municipalities aspiring to build infrastructure for long-term sustainability, resilience, and, increasingly, adaptability to the impacts of global warming;…
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