The National Resources Defense Council asserts that if “sea levels rise 3.3 feet (1 meter) by the end of the century, a 100-year storm surge could cost the City of Boston 36 billion in damages to residential, commercial, and industrial structures in emergency response.” But this number doesn’t include the immeasurable damage inflicted upon the city’s people and culture in storm surge conditions. As design students and active urban thinkers, our proposal seeks to shift the focus from repelling water to embracing its power. The goal is for these ideas to benefit the North End community directly, but also permeate additional parts of Boston and other coastal cities as they approach similar design problems.

Our energy-conscious, residential re-design sits above the water-permeable ground condition, tying land and sea together by allowing water to flow in and out of the site.

  • Opens a waterway under Atlantic Ave. and populates it with oyster habitats. This quadruples the utility of the building, creating new industry, providing local seafood, serving as a biofilter, and draining water on and around the site.
  • Maintains active engagement with pedestrians while increasing visual awareness of flooding in the immediate community and beyond through a raised, multi-functional commercial space on the first level.
  • Creates units that can withstand the extreme temperature swings of climate change with minimal energy dependence. The Prince Building’s residential floors are retrofitted with added insulation and air tightness, utilizing the Passive House methodology in a cost-effective, multi-unit application.

The Prince Building remodel maximizes economic, ecological, and cultural gain by adding a new function to the building. Famous for its restaurants, local businesses in The North End will have the opportunity to add fresh, locally-harvested oysters to the menu. Oysters are grown, harvested, cleaned and then distributed. At the same time, waste oyster shells are collected and used on-site as a breeding ground for new oysters. Beneath the raised commercial level, the entire process is on display for pedestrians and residents passing by. This new infrastructure in the North End creates new jobs and raises awareness to the issues of water management, sea-level rise, and climate change.

When the question is whether to fortify, retreat, or adapt to changing conditions, this proposal seeks to reconcile all of the Living With Water issues: designing for resilience, creating double-duty solutions, strengthening community resilience, incentivizing and institutionalizing preparedness, and phasing plans over time. If nothing is done to change the developmental landscape, one third of the city could become irrevocably damaged by 2100 due to flooding.² This proposal propels the neighborhood of the North End into new development where function and form are intertwined. Opening up the urban ground to the water creates a more resilient, more beautiful, more integrated Boston that is one with the future ecological conditions it is facing. Sea level rise is not a threat but an opportunity; this redesign of the Prince building embraces the challenge of flooding that lies ahead of us, for Boston and for future generations.



¹Water Facts: Boston, Massachusetts, National Resources Defense Council, p.2
²Designing With Water: Creative Solutions from Around the Globe, TBHA & Sasaki, p.8

Company Name
The Rhode Island School of Design

Team Member(s)
Chloe Renee Jensen, Architecture | M.Arch Candidate 2016 RISD
Ali AlAbbad, Architecture | M.Arch 2016 Candidate RISD
Sarp Arditi, Architecture | B.Arch 2016 Candidate RISD
Erin Graham, Architecture | M.Arch 2016 Candidate RISD
Sarah Kavanagh, Architecture | M.Arch 2016 Candidate RISD
Rob Sugar, Architecture | M.Arch 2016 Candidate RISD