As college students are returning to class this Fall, either online, remote, or hybrid, this post reflects on the extraordinary year just completed and the advances in digital technology evolving simultaneously in our socially distanced current scenario.
by Cullen Meves, ASLA
The FIELD ASLA Professional Practice Networks’ Blog
The 2020-2021 university school year saw an immense shift in academic practice and online curriculum. Every professor, faculty member, and student experienced a barrage of new online technologies, teaching and collaboration strategies, and a fundamentally changed appreciation for the vast array of digital tools available.
Over the course of the Spring 2021 semester, five universities engaged in the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, spearheaded by ReMain Nantucket and adapting educational models developed at the University of Florida. The Challenge called on interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from leading design universities to reimagine Nantucket Harbor under the latest projections of sea-level rise. Teams were asked to create visually impactful designs and propose adaptations and innovations that would enable coastal communities to imagine what Nantucket’s future under sea-level rise and climate impacts may look like.
The teams worked with 24 local and regional advisors as well as residents of Nantucket for context and inspiration, all from remote locations geographically dispersed across the United States and for the most part connecting only via online meetings during the semester-long Challenge. Digital communication and representational tools took center stage over the course of this Challenge and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses these tools offer in this new era of online design.
The evolution of the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge serves as a perfect example of how expanded digital capabilities can spur meaningful action. In 2019, during the Keeping History Above Water conference in Nantucket, Marty Hylton, Director of the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Florida, and his group presented the future sea-level rise scenarios for Nantucket using visual representations created from 3D laser scans of the historic downtown streets and processed utilizing Autodesk ReCap™ Pro point cloud software to quickly develop current, accurate 3D representations of street-level sea level rise scenarios. These sea-level rise visualizations shocked the audience and spurred them to begin looking into ways to provide the community with viable solutions to some of the inevitable water issues they would face. Fast-forward to Spring 2021, and ReMain Nantucket had organized a comprehensive university competition to continue to bring these issues to light and help the Nantucket community visualize solutions.