Houston Flood Urbanism




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"The whole context is different there. It's a different kind of delta, with a different soil and a different climate, and it is also very different from the Netherlands socially, societally and politically. All the same, it is worthwhile for New Orleans to combine solutions for water management with solutions for improving the urban planning structure... New Orleans's tragedy is that the Mississippi Delta is a small tail attached to a great big dog" (Seth McDowell, Water Index: Design Strategies for Drought, Flooding and Contamination). Seth McDowell's research describes a city that developed in close proximity to a significant body of water, reaping the benefits of its location and coping with the detriments of flooding vulnerability. Similarly, Houston was founded opportunistically along Buffalo Bayou to expedite its economic growth and, thus, urban expansion. The city has been marked throughout history by catastrophic disasters, each one followed by a reevaluation of preventative measures and innovations for new resilience infrastructures. Over the course of several decades, this dangerous back-and-forth with water created numerous individual organizations each with differing methods and goals for water-sensible design and ecological preservation. A major consequence of these disconnected developments is a lack of coherence between preventative design and the integration of public and built environments. This thesis proposes that flood management, public infrastructure, and urban development should be designed to coexist rather than operate separately.