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Shifting Foundations

Published onDec 24, 2019
Shifting Foundations

Shifting Foundations is a 10,000 square foot permanent exhibition designed to visualize ecosystem, infrastructure, and scientific innovations needed to protect South Louisiana from flooding. Located in the Center for River Studies on the Baton Rouge Water Campus, the Center houses a 120’ x 90’ Moveable-Bed Physical Model of the Lower Mississippi River. The design team was comprised of a trans-disciplinary group of designers, scientists, and engineers. More than a collection of data, scientific principles, restoration strategies, and modeling outputs, Shifting Foundations is a forum; inviting diverse stakeholders to explore, connect, and debate the future of the Louisiana coast.

At the southern end of the Mississippi River watershed, South Louisiana bears the consequences of the urban development, farming practices, and industrial economy of 11,000 square miles, or 41%, of North America. The River is engineered for control: to maintain navigation on the world’s busiest waterway, generate hydroelectric power, and control flooding for millions who live along it. Consequently, manipulation of the upper basin has dramatically reduced the river’s sediment load, while leveeing of the lower river has disconnected the river from its deltaic floodplains. The result is a rapidly subsiding and eroding coastline that has lost 1,870 square miles of wetlands since the 1930s—most recently at a rate of one football field every 100 minutes. For the people of the Mississippi River Delta, a combination of sea level rise, land subsidence, and levee failure threatens their homes, jobs, and way of life. Shifting Foundations is an exhibition that:

  1. describes the constant negotiation between water and land that define South Louisiana and

  2. presents future scenarios which leverage the complexity of this aqueous terrain to ensure its viability as a site of settlement and industry.

Jeff Carney, AIA, AICP
Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Associate Director, Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER), University of Florida

Shelby Doyle, AIA
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, College of Design, Iowa State University

Jacob Mitchell
Assistant Professor in Residence, Department of Landscape Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design

This event is supported by the National Science Foundation, Award #1929601. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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