Climate Change is Teaching Designers to Expand Their Horizons—or at Least It Should


A future flood map of Mastic, New York. Right: A plan for densifying the town’s high, dry ground and retreating from the shoreline. . Image Courtesy of Rafi Segal And Susannah Drake

A future flood map of Mastic, New York. Right: A plan for densifying the town’s high, dry ground and retreating from the shoreline. . Image Courtesy of Rafi Segal And Susannah Drake

A lot can happen in the space between a book’s title and subtitle, as A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation: Uniting Design, Economics, and Policy (Island Press, 2021) demonstrates. Here, in a reversal from the norm, the subtitle assumes the more evocative bent by elevating design to the same status as economics and policy. To some, this might seem a spurious move, but the volume lives its creed: Its editors include two design academics and a business school professor, to say nothing about the myriad backgrounds of its contributors.

Blueprint goes deep into the policy decisions that have shaped the brittle condition of coastal infrastructure. It coalesces into a convincing picture of the wider context in which design operates, with the aim of making the built environment more equitable for those caught on the front lines of certain climate change cataclysm.

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