A Catalog of Ideas

Designed by Aershop. Est. 2009

Architecture · Environment · Research



Imagine our built environments pulsating to the rhythms of our planet.



Aershop is an agency for Architecture, Environment, and Research. Our process is rooted in informal debate and exploratory making, always moving fluidly between these modes of seeing to produce impactful and timely designs.

Works produced through Aershop have received accolades from leading figures in the field of architecture and landscape through juried competitions whose members have included Stan Allen, Alan Berger, Anita Berrizbeitia, Julia Czerniak, Elizabeth Diller, Walter Hood, Thom Maine, Mohsen Mostafavi, Signe Nielsen, Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Billie Tsien, Charles Waldheim, Jane Wolff, Adam Yarinsky and others.

OpenAer Catalog is our online memory cache for organizing and sharing things that have the potential for informing brand and design related work.


Darina Zlateva


Darina has directed projects globally––at scales that span the civic, institutional, and residential. Collaborating and experimenting are central to her design process. She is Senior Associate Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox, where she is senior designer of One Vanderbilt Place in Manhattan's Midtown.

She unpacks the contemporary city—its cultures, histories, networks, organizations and their stories—to develop projects that bridge gaps between the many 'ways of seeing'.

Darina has devoted part of her time to teaching—notably, at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Boston Architectural College.

She received her Masters in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and her BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Dartmouth College.

Takuma Ono


Takuma sees landscape as having agency in shaping global patterns. Collaborating and experimenting are central to his design process.

At NV5, he is Senior Designer/PM for a resiliency project on a 30-acre community park in Jamaica Bay’s Rockaway Peninsula. The primary goals of this project are being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NYC Parks acknowledges that the product of this study, design, and reconstruction may function as a model for other design/ construction projects along New York City’s waterfront.

Takuma has instructed Urban Systems at the Boston Architectural College, Spitzer School of Architecture, and Rhode Island School of Design.

He received his Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and his BS in Microbiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Building Blocks



A waterfront designed for withstanding a 14-ft storm surge is also designed for engaging with regular tidal fluctuations, biotic cycles, and urban rhythms.


WPA 2.0: Hydrogenic City



Hydrogenic City addresses the impacts of climate change and depleting water supplies in Los Angeles with a responsive and scalable solution: a decentralized network of environmentally sensitive and aesthetically compelling wastewater reclamation centers.

Each reclamation center provides a sustainable water source to the city and the distributed design scales naturally. The mechanistic infrastructure of waterworks is transformed into an interactive and sensory series of public nodes. As mist platforms, solar-encased water tanks, urban beaches, aquatic parking lots, reflecting pools and channels, water-based landscapes become organizational moments for community building.


Finalist, Professional Category, Open International Competition
► WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture

Organized by

► UCLA's City Lab


by Takuma Ono and Darina Zlateva of Aershop

Assisted by: Helen Han, Matt Storus, Erin Kasimow, and Ryan Leidner


Dust blowing in the bed of Owens Lake in 2008. by Richard Ellis.  CC BY-SA 3.0

"Adaptations to climate change would make better use of existing water resources through integrated water resources management."

Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective, 2009. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

In the United States, many of the fastest growing cities are located in the arid Southwest. Traditional supply from the Sierra Nevada and Colorado River is vulnerable to warming loss. The city of Los Angeles imports as much as 85% of its water from these basins and was chosen as the pilot location.


Mule teams of up to 52 animals pulled the pipes over the mountains and through the desert. Public Domain.

Spectators wait for the first water swelling down the open part of the aqueduct. Public Domain.

Massive pipes carry water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. 1912. Public Domain.

The remains of Owens River at Bishop Tuff. by Urban~commonswiki. CC BY-SA 3.0

Dean's Wall Exhibition, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2009 (Dean Mohsen Mostafavi)

Dean's Wall Exhibition, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2009 (Dean Mohsen Mostafavi)


Dean's Wall Exhibition, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2009 (Dean Mohsen Mostafavi)


WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture

WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture began as an open design competition seeking innovative, implementable proposals that place infrastructure at the heart of rebuilding our cities during this next era of metropolitan recovery. The competition, organized by UCLA's cityLAB, was inspired by the Depression-era Works Projects Administration and the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Given the $150 billion dedicated to infrastructure–the largest investment in public works in the United States since the 1950s–designers were asked to envision a new legacy of publicly-supported infrastructure, projects that explore the value of infrastructure not only as an engineering endeavor but as a robust design opportunity to strengthen communities and revitalize cities. Nearly two hundred teams from 13 countries and 25 US states entered the professional competition. The six final proposals represent some of today's most progressive plans for transforming existing urban infrastructure with an emphasis on better public spaces, more conscientious energy and water use, and turning detriments into resources.

The Competition Jury, chaired by Stan Allen, Stan Allen Architect, Dean, School of Architecture, Princeton University, included international figures in architecture, landscape architecture and allied design.


Hell Gate Estuary



An Ecological Use for Dredged Material

The waterfront's commercial function has grown at the expense of its natural habitat. As Manhattan's East River shoreline became more industrial, the building of piers, wharves, roads, and the dredging of the river decimated the marshes and wildlife along its banks. Aershop's design proposal, which addresses the area between 90th and 103rd Streets, seeks to reconcile the relationship between natural systems and the infrastructural requirements needed to sustain the city's commercial activities.

This open international competition received over 90 submissions representing 24 countries. The award winning projects were on display at the Museum of the City of New York from June 6 through October 28, 2012.

Read it on



Author: U.S. A.C.E. CC BY-SA2.0

Author: Paul Farmer. CC BY-SA2.0


Today, the port of New York and New Jersey, the third largest container port in the nation, dredges 1-2 million cubic yards of sediment a year to maintain the deep navigational channels required for the ultra-large container ships.

The proposal finds a new use for this dredged material, transferring it to Hell Gate for the purpose of building a landscape that re-establishes a salt water estuary. Solidified concrete-dredge monomers are aggregated in ways that mimic the environmental conditions required for growing a marshland along this stretch of the waterfront. The design supports the regeneration of aquatic habitats and creates spaces for people to relax, fish, kayak, and participate in other waterfront activities. In this design, industry and nature are no longer in opposition, but rather interdependent--each grows with the other.


The island of Manhattan, Jersey City, Newark Bay, and areas of the New York / New Jersey Port seen from aboard a plane in July, 2005. Author: Maureen. CC BY-SA2.0


Author: Fritz Geller-Grimm CC ASA-2.5G


Mt. Coffee


Re-claiming the coffee house as a place of discourse and exchange.


Starbucks encourages their devotees to app-order in advance – Save Precious Minutes. What's to lose? What's to gain?

Starbucks’ growth streak continues to be fueled by an over-stretched society actively seeking answers and meanings (or more practically, seeking alternate paths of sustaining a living). In this context, we believe a laid back yet well-considered lifestyle is building momentum; today, ways of living that recognize the values of imagining and self-directing are gaining force.

By branding and packaging the act of coffee-drinking as a relaxing, socializing experience rather than a mere pick-me-up, Mt. Coffee is creating opportunities for re-directing energies and re-thinking futures.


New England Food Hall, Brooklyn



Small Pleasures

The concept of the food hall, expanded to fit today's needs.


Dredge Economies



While there is an understanding that today’s patterns of consuming–producing–wasting are unsustainable, many networked societies founded on merchant shipping (an enabler of resource allocation) continue to rely upon it for elevating and sustaining its 'standard of living'. When perceived and treated as being independent of larger ecosystems, merchant shipping patterns (and related sea-floor dredging) distort and fracture many other interrelated patterns (fluid dynamics, biologic, vulnerability to storm surge, etc.)—slowly dwindling the resilient properties of our commons.

Dredge Economies takes Boston as a case study for imagining a more connected future—one that re-establishes relationships between global and local processes. By mapping the city's rich legacy of trade routes, underwater currents, and projected infrastructure developments, Dredge Economies seeks to build a paradigm for addressing these shared dilemmas.


This research was made possible by the Maeder-York Family Fellowship in Landscape Studies at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Assisted by Ailyn Mendoza and Adam E. Anderson. The artist in residence fellowship, offered by the ISG Museum in Boston, recognizes emerging design talent across disciplines that engage in experimentation and research as it pertains to landscape. Biannually, a distinguished committee selects a single individual who has demonstrated high achievement in design.



Dredging is integral to expanding international trade activities; Climate change and ballooning costs of dredging require the nation to re-conceptualize this industry from the ground up.

19th century

The 19th century in the United States set the stage for the massive proliferation of infrastructural projects.  By the 20th century, these projects set a precedent for practices that would alter the global ecosystem. A modern America, committed to the ideals of a free market economy, free enterprise, and individualism propelled opportunistic investments in industry and infrastructure. Wild floodplains and brimming estuaries, while a cornerstone of many Native American and early colonial settlements, required continuous transformation in order to urbanize in pace with increasing populations. In hindsight, the speed and scale of this growth left a collateral legacy of irreparable environmental depletion; a declaration that capital flows reinforced by economies of scale are unsustainable. The dystopias resulting from what is perhaps better described today as diseconomies of scale are encapsulated in the disappearance of the once inexhaustible and legendary abundance of America's natural resources.

21st century

Climate change will be one of the greatest challenges facing our generation. According to the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report, by 2050 even the low emission scenario for Climate Change is expected to significantly spike the frequency of climate-related disasters. Presently, Massachusetts has over 90 percent of its economy in an infilled estuary region, making it highly vulnerable to impacts of Sea Level Rise (SLR). However, the swarming sense of urgency surrounding impacts of climate change remains contained within the scientific community, stymied by the political will to re-ignite economies using reliable but myopic formulas for generating growth (i.e. oil, grey infrastructure, industrial agriculture). Finally, while study on climate science has helped uncover alarming details about potential impacts, the incomplete nature of this research is adding complexity to the problem by fragmenting decision-making. Meanwhile, populations continue to be supported by aging infrastructures and deteriorating conventions, which further highlights how a deadlocked global climate protocol poses a direct and imminent threat to the city and region. As such, the 21st century marks a period of great reconciliation, a time to re-think the way the assemblage of problems collide with the local and global systems that support life. In this renewed context, collaboration and coordination are becoming necessary for managing the vast array of human-altered ecologies.

"Regional sediment management will require Coordination Among diverse interests, political jurisdictions, and levels of government to achieve environmental, social, and Economic goals."

– An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy 

Dredging Boston Harbor

In the British colonization of Shawmut Peninsula, the geologic and geographic converged in an idyllic coupling of economy and ecology; nautical charts document the ceaseless re-invention and re-definition of its shorelines, which occurred at different timescales and shaped the city over several generations. The geological framework of this landscape propagated one of nature's most productive, resource-rich environments and was a medium for growth. To expand trade-assisted development, the Corps's deepening of Boston's naturally shallow estuary was authorized in 1822.

By the 1960's, an environmental movement raised concerns over what it saw as a dig-and-dump activity.  As ensuing mitigative protocols and escalating energy prices became prohibitive, demand emerged in the 1990s for a national policy to restore economic incentives to dredge. President Clinton endorsed the National Dredging Policy in 1995 in recognition of a need to balance dredging practices with the need to conserve, protect, and restore the nation's coastal, ocean, and fresh water resources. Inability to dredge cost-effectively within a timely schedule fuels anxieties over the viability of sustaining economies dependent on international commerce. However, this dig-and-dump activity modifies the floor of the estuary, alters hydrodynamics and tidal patterns, and trickles down to alter patterns in biological systems. Still, the specific impacts of dredging on Boston Harbor remain mostly unknown as very few scientific studies on this subject extend beyond Environmental Impact Reports (EIR).

Meanwhile, Climate Change continues on its long established trajectory and a sense of urgency seems to rise in sync with record-setting warming. While adapting is necessary, we are in an economic environment of escalating costs, dwindling finances, and a rising sense of desperation. Climate Change and ballooning costs of dredging are requiring the nation to re-conceptualize this globalized economy from the ground up. Throughout history, Boston's port played an important role in the development of New England and its global economy. Given this setting, the estuary emerges as the site for understanding systemic overlaps and scales at which solutions could be developed.

Mutualistic Dredging

Broadly speaking, Dredge Economies is an ecosystem-inspired design that imagines a mutualistic relationship between the process of dredging and natural systems; it does so by confronting containerized transport with acknowledgement of its centrality to sustaining present global economies. Sadly, even as the aggregated impacts of containerized commerce require us to re-think dredging, the greening of the container ship has been the focus of mitigative efforts, leading to the build-out of larger ships with expanded cargo capacities.

Instead, Dredge Economies begins by considering dredging as part of the ecosystem; the design reveres the industrial might of a conventional growth strategy (dredging) but acts opportunistically on this force. In theory, by re-thinking dredging as being integral to the ecosystem rather than an end goal, the progressive cultivation of this wilderness gains the potential to support a diversity of organisms. What happens when we begin to perceive dredged sediment as a valuable resource? What happens when we recognize that we are already active ecosystem shapers? Is it possible to cultivate the harbor – to create a net positive impact on natural systems?

Dredge economies emerges from, and is developed through, an orchestrated synchrony between dredging, dumping and dynamic environmental flows.

As cultural perceptions of natural systems are dynamic and evolving, it can be expected that the current predominant version will eventually be displaced. In the short history of the United States the cultural perceptions of Nature have ranged from it being sacred, to something that must be tempered, to an exploitable and exploited resource, and finally, to something complex and precious. Within the sequence of these mainstream perceptions, to shift the paradigm to one of mutualistic understanding of industry and nature hinges on a evolution of the present conservative ideology. Hindered by the view that nature is complex and precious, research on the effects of dredging have primarily focused on mitigation and remediation even while resources are being consumed at an unsustainable rate. As a consequence, scientists know very little about what remains of wilderness and less information is available about the costs and effectiveness of adaptation measures than about mitigation measures. Despite this reality, it is becoming clear that the inertias of diseconomies are too destructive a force to be moderated through mitigation alone.

Adaptive Management

In the context of a weak global economy, the gathering inertia of human induced climate change is further compounded by political structures that are unfit for confronting this condition. In this cultural context, scientific uncertainties at the local scale are identified as primary barriers to decision-making at the institutional scale. In response to this barrier, both the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have endorsed the use of Adaptive Management, a strategy that focuses on learning and adapting to maintain sustainable ecosystems.

While risk-mitigating strategies such as conservation, restoration and energy efficiency have their own merits, taking the long-view, many scientists believe that dramatic transformations of operating systems are necessary to survive the impacts of climate change. , As the impacts of climate change are in themselves evolving, Dredge Economies envisions the adaptive strategy and its processes as integrated with and informed by the dynamic patterns of natural systems. To confront differences and divisions between mitigation, resistance and transformation, strategies that address near-term risk are synchronized with long-term agendas. In essence, adaptation is being recognized in this project as a process that is emergent from an orchestrated synchrony between dredging, dumping, and dynamic environmental forces.


Sediment Management as Living System

Applying the characteristics of living systems to the design of sediment management is a way of defining the problem in terms of feedbacks, efficiencies, redundancies, and dynamic interactions. The goal is to design a process that is self-organizing, that responds to externalities while maintaining an internal equilibrium.


In Dredge Economies, Robustness is a desirable attribute emergent from a balanced expression of several key properties found in living systems (i.e. ability to react to stimuli, develop, evolve, metabolize, grow, and absorb). Coordinated through feedback, P A R T S work collaboratively in support of these properties and collectively confront a broad range of risks through adaptive management.

As a risk-mitigative strategy, the design is imagined as an assembly of repeating modular units. Not dissimilar from how amino acids combine to form proteins in biological systems, these units assemble incrementally into a range of permutations, forming evolving responses to evolving issues. As such, this graduated response has the effect of distributing risk over time and space. Furthermore, information obtained from the real-time monitoring of this design would feed back to the assembly line, creating a programmed flexibility, making it an ideal partner to adaptive management.

Erosive Structures

Containers are built with dredge...for holding dredge. Some of these containers are designed to be porous, allowing water to flow through and gradually erode the pile. Strategic placment of these polymeric rings work with natural systems (wind, water) to reinforce desirable directional flows. New tidal habitats emerge from, and evolve with this process.

Author: Paul Farmer. CC BY-SA2.0

Coordinating P. A. R. T. S.

(Portable, Adaptable, Renewable, Transposable, Scalable)


According to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, dredging is possibly the most direct and prominent way humans affect sediments in marine waters. In Boston, a planned "improvement" of an existing navigation channel is expected to generate 13 million cubic yards of sediment and rock. As such, the ability to rapidly dispose dredge is being recognized as an important part of a beneficial-use program. Containers for holding dredge (opposite page) are manufactured – in proximity to the dredge site and in pace with the dredging operation – to allow most of this sediment to be retained in the system. These containers create an environment where the dredge can be freely ported, ultimately enabling the integration of broad-scale beneficial use with small-scale projects.


Dredge Economies proposes using Soft Infrastructure to systematically reduce Boston's exposure to short and long-term climate-related vulnerabilities. 

While the planning and design for  soft infrastructure requires ongoing collaboration and coordination between managers, agencies, and policies, it is superior in its capacity to stay in sync with the temporal and spatial dynamics of exposure and vulnerability.


While Nantasket and Deer Island Peninsulas are the primary headlands that define the outer limits of this harbor, this semi-enclosed water body is further sub-divided by secondary headlands, tombolos, causeways, salients, islands, flats, rivers, and human disturbances that comprise this estuarine system. Over the past two centuries, a flattening and homogenizing of this aqueous landscape (through dredging, damming, filling, ploughing and poisoning [,,,,] ) have reduced the diversity of spatial typologies and tempered the rates of fluid exchange between the river, harbor, bay, and ocean.[,] While facilitating rapid human settlement, past modifications had deleterious effects on the estuary. Dredge Economies proposes articulating the site in ways that: support the self-organization of variegated seascapes, strengthen flows and networks between distinct seascapes, and provide selective barriers to storm surge.

Renewability emerges from the programmed flexibility of a sediment management plan –Measured against the effectiveness of a climate adaptation strategy.


Coupling the operations of dredging with the purposeful redistribution of the dredged sediment can be seen as the basis of a new opportunistic approach to large-scale mitigation, remediation, and nutrient cycling.

The Port of New York and New Jersey recently succeeded in coupling its deep draft navigation dredging (to -50ft) with a skillfully planned construction of estuaries. Although ecological benefits from the newly built estuaries have yet to be fully realized, the project is already successful in terms of the quantity of dredged sediment used (60 million cubic yards). It demonstrates that large-scale dredging and an estuary-building process can be coordinated both financially and logistically.

In Dredge Economies, a sustainable regeneration is envisioned as being emergent from a balance between evolvability and resilience. Stated in another way, renewability is seen as arising from the programmed flexibility of a sediment management plan – measured against the effectiveness of a climate adaptation strategy.


While being informed by the rhythmic patterns of the environment, Dredge Economies envisions making alterations to it that would further guide and support adaptation to the rapidly changing climate.

Re-wilding Boston's harbor: Augmenting existing fluid dynamics using dredged materials for the purpose of re-introducing a diversity of communities.

move sediments = move flow patterns; move flow patterns = move sediments; flow patterns = conduits and settlement areas for nutrients and organisms

Map of Boston, C.1776 courtesy of Boston Public Library


"A diversity of communities sustains a greater total diversity of organisms in an ecosystem, and may equip it to adapt more quickly to externally forced changes."

-Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life

Shaped like large ‘jacks’, these tetrapoidal units possess the minimum number of legs required to stand on it's own. Some of the dredged sediment (sand and gravel) are used to construct these structures. The flexible, multipurpose quality of these units create myriads of opportunities.


For nearly a century, concrete units like these have been used along coastlines to dissipate erosive wave energies - for one, they are easily scaled - as a monomer and as a polymer. Stacked, it armors the urban shoreline from damaging waves;  arranged in a circular formation, it becomes a container for holding large quantities of dredge.


Scenario 1: Tetrapods align the Inner Harbor, creating a layer of defense from wave energy. The same tetrapods arranged differently define the entry to the Inner Harbor and influence the directional flow of currents.


Scenario 2: Drifting mounds of dredge enhance and promote a variegated landscape between existing harbor islands. As a whole, this porous barrier acts selectively to drown wave energies generated by Nor'easter and hurricane winds.

Under typical conditions the thickened barrier of islands guide the flow to move around it. Consequently, this concentrated flow invigorates the exchange of water between the river, harbor and bay.

This dredge-enhanced landscape also functions as spawning and feeding grounds for pelagic species. Juvenile fish and shellfish are carried by tidal currents from this porous hatchery to other parts of the harbor and bay.




In this hypothetical setting of imagined interactions between imagined solutions, a mutualistic relationships between industries and ecosystems are forged.

While a renewed interest in the environment has spurred the coda “Think globally, Act locally", the lifestyles of Americans continue to be supplanted by global commerce, fossil fuel, and 20th century infrastructure. This dilemma - of desiring sustainable lifestyles yet being mired in paradoxical, unsustainable conditions - is perhaps fit to a rubric of Anxious Parasitism.

Conversely, mutualism, a type of symbiosis prevalent in living systems, is a way two or more organisms coexist in a relationship in which each individual benefits. For example, Leafcutter ants – a species endemic to the Americas – harvests leaves for a fungus and in return, the fungus converts this plant biomass  into food for the ant. Thought to have developed between 45-50 millions years ago, this obligate mutualism has enabled the Leafcutter species to grow and sustain unusually populous colonies.

Compared to the Leafcutter, the human species are new to the planet; Homo habilis, an early stone age relative, dates back 2 million years while Homo sapiens are thought to have arrived in the Americas just 15,000 years ago. Having flourished during an period of abundance, it is not surprising that modern humans are mostly free-living organisms retaining only a few symbiotic relations with other organisms (ie. intestinal bacteria). 

But the period of abundant natural resources is behind us and the United States is in transition; President Obama heralds 'the era of collective action and cooperation'  while many still continue to retain monetary growth and GDP as a measure of wealth. Ecological Urbanism, arriving on the vestiges of an unprecedented global population boom hopes to reconcile an inherited consumption rate that never was sustainable to begin with. So, what does collective action and cooperation mean in terms of an ecological urbanism? How can we transition from what feels like Anxious Parasitism into something positive?

In this chapter, several climate change related risks are highlighted and possible impacts are considered. The highlighted risks are in no way comprehensive but they emphasize large-scale patterns and cover a range of issues. Collectively, the risks become a point of departure for exploring the latent potentials of beneficial-use at a local scale. Designs presented in this research were developed initially as a response to these known (yet uncertain) impacts – and thereafter calibrated (conceptually) through an effort to synchronize a variety of potentially preventive and transformative solutions. It is in this hypothetical setting – where imagined interactions between imagined solutions momentarily suspend convention long enough to generate ideas for forging a positive relationship between dredging and natural systems.

Exerpts from highly regarded and recently published works by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc) and U.S. Climate Science Program are meant to introduce the reader to this prismatic issue.

Notes: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


• Climate change is likely to lead to some irreversible impacts. There is medium confidence that approximately 20 to 30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average warming exceed 1.5 to 2.5°C (relative to 1980-1999). As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5°C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40 to 70% of species assessed) around the globe.

• The capacity to adapt and mitigate is dependent on socioeconomic and environmental circumstances and the availability of information and technology.

• There is high confidence that neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can avoid all climate change impacts. Adaptation is necessary both in the short term and longer term to address impacts resulting from the warming that would occur even for the lowest stabilization scenarios assessed.


• Management strategies based on the reduction of everyday or chronic risk factors and on the reduction of risk associated with non-extreme events, as opposed to strategies based solely on the exceptional or extreme, provide a mechanism that facilitates the reduction of disaster risk and the preparation for and response to extremes and disasters (high confidence).

• Climate change will pose added challenges for the appropriate allocation of efforts to manage disaster risk (high confidence).

• Risk assessment is one starting point, within the broader risk governance framework, for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction and transfer (high confidence).

• Management of the risk associated with climate extremes, extreme impacts, and disasters benefits from an integrated systems approach, as opposed to separately managing individual types of risk or risk in particular locations (high confidence).

• Risk assessment encounters difficulties in estimating the likelihood and magnitude of extreme events and their impacts (high confidence).

• Learning is central to adaptation to climate change. Furthermore, the concepts, goals, and processes of adaptation share much in common with disaster risk management, particularly its disaster risk reduction component (high confidence).

• Projected trends and uncertainty in hazards, exposure, and vulnerability associated with climate change and development make return to the status quo, coping, or static resilience increasingly insufficient goals for disaster risk management and adaptation (high confidence).

• Community participation in planning, the determined use of local and community knowledge and capacities, and the decentralization of decision making, supported by and in synergy with national and international policies and actions, are critical for disaster risk reduction (high confidence).

The IPCC standard definition for "high confidence" is equivalent to an 8 out of 10 chance that a statement given this status is correct.

Notes: U.S. Climate Change Science Program

• Abandon classic management models that assume a constant world in equilibrium.

• Acknowledge in our management strategies and in our models that ecosystems are nonlinear, interdependent, and non equilibrium systems.

• Use near-term forecasting tools, statistical and otherwise, that are appropriate to this class of system (for example, nonlinear time series prediction coupled with scenario models).

• Continue to identify the characteristics of systems that make them more or less vulnerable.

• Employ adaptive management strategies, such as skillful short-term forecasting methods coupled with scenario exploration models that are capable of dealing with new successional scenarios and novel combinations of species.

Sea Level Rise

Climate change is projected to increase the frequency of severe storms in New England while sea level rise (SLR) will heighten its impact. As intense storms reach shallow coastal waters, they frequently generate storm surges, which are wind-driven swells that further increase sea levels. When storms occur during high tide, sea level rise can be substantial. 

"The destructive energy of Atlantic hurricanes has increased in recent decades. The intensity of these storms is likely to increase in this century."

-Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, U.S. Global Change Research Program

In 2012, a research by U.S. Geological Survey identified a sea level rise hotspot between North Carolina and Massachusetts – where the water is rising faster than anywhere else in the world. According to this finding, by 2100, Boston may experience a rise of 20-29cm above the global increase, which most oceanographers estimate to be 100cm. This news was preceded by research published in 2009 suggesting that the SLR estimates made in the AR4 were conservative as they failed to account for potential changes in ice sheet dynamics (Vermeer and Rahmstorf, 2009). For Massachusetts, land subsidence potentially adds upwards of 60cm to SLR (Clark et al., 2008). Furthermore, damage from gradual SLR is greatly amplified by the impacts of extreme events, and not surprisingly, latest findings estimate an intensification in significant wave height of extreme waves (Hermer et al., 2013). In total, it suggests a relative SLR for Boston that is far greater than previous estimates.

No part of this bodes well for Boston, which ranks 4th among U.S. cities with the greatest predicted risk of asset exposure to SLR. While damage from a 100-year storm in 2050 is expected to exceed $460 billion in Boston  (Lenton et al., 2009), from an ecological point of view, the central problem is how to confront the gathering threat to habitats which provide valuable ecosystem services such as: climate mediation, food production, pollination, and sequestration of toxins (Levin, 2010).


NOAA’s General Computer Modeling Environment (GNOME) demonstrates how a purpose-built digital model may be useful for assessing Boston's vulnerability to storms. Under typical conditions, water that enters the Boston Harbor from Massachusetts Bay is split in two by the cluster of harbor islands, and directed along the north and south channels.

During tropical storms and hurricanes, the cluster of harbor islands acts as a porous barrier to strong southerly swells. The town of Quincy appears highly vulnerable to flooding as water rushes into the harbor through the south channel where there is also enough fetch to form wind-driven waves. The model also shows strong currents approaching the Inner Harbor from the east and southeasterly direction.

During Nor'easters, the cluster of harbor islands acts as a porous barrier to strong northerly swells. Inner harbor appears to be protected as the narrow fetch of this area does not allow northerly winds to form wind-driven waves. The model shows currents bending around Deer Island and traveling up the north channel.

Low Green House Gas Scenario, C.2050

Potential impact from Category 1 tropical cyclone/hurricane in year 2050. (SLOSH) which, in today's terms, closely approximates the impact of a 100-year flood event.

As intense storms reach shallow coastal waters, they frequently generate storm surges, which are wind-driven swells that further increase sea levels. When storms occur during high tide, sea level rise can be substantial.

High Green House Gas Scenario, C.2100

Potential impact from Category 2 storm surge in year 2100. (SLOSH)

Image depicts a 12-15ft surge level above mean high water level with 3-4ft sea level rise (from climate change) and 1ft land subsidence.

Most climate models reveal a weakening trend in the AMOC. AMOC is a large component of the Thermohaline Circulation.

Altered Circulation Patterns

Together, the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current – two important components of the Thermohaline Circulation – help drive the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a large-scale ocean circulation system with profound impacts on the global climate. The diagram above shows how the pattern and strength of the AMOC influences smaller circulation patterns in the Gulf of Maine. The variegated features of the sea floor affect the Gulf’s currents, which in turn influence the distribution and abundance of plankton. A projected 25-30% decrease in strength of the AMOC over the next century will likely have impacts on marine ecosystem productivity, fisheries, ocean CO2 uptake, oceanic oxygen concentrations and terrestrial vegetation.


Altered Sedimentation Patterns

The Gulf of Maine contains an exceptional variety of physioregions. The many basins, shelves, rocks and crevices of this area gives it a high degree of surface roughness, which increases its capacity to support an extraordinary abundance and greater diversity of animals. In addition, the shallow depth (100-200m) makes it penetrable by light, so the majority of this seascape is a eutrophic zone a zone of primary production.

Bottom trawls, a heavily used mobile fishing gear with a rake-like motion alters the seafloor with sustained impacts on biodiversity., Georges Bank has been devastated by this technology.

A weak counterclockwise circulation in the Massachusetts Bay (Southern Coastal Shelf) functions to capture nutrients that support extensive marine productivity yet it also traps contaminants that originate in urban environments. For most of Massachusetts Bay, it takes 20-45 days to cycle (flush) the surface water.

How will rising water temperatures affect biodiversity?

-Seeking cooler water, some species are observed migrating to deeper offshore waters. This shift could have an impact on their larvae if their nursing grounds are traditionally in-shore.

-Historically, water temperatures have had a pervasive effect on all of the major life processes of species including growth, maturity, spawning, egg maturation, and larval maturation.

While thermal habitats and nutrient regimes of the Gulf of Maine vary from year to year, long range forecasts project a steady increase in annual water temperatures with unpredictable consequences on hydrologic patterns. These changes will likely have significant impacts on biological diversity and population dynamics of species in this region [and beyond] as cold-adapted niche species are lost or displaced by generalist species.


In 2007, coastal watershed counties provided 69 million jobs. Many of these counties border an estuary, which function as spawning, nursing and feeding grounds to 60-90% of pelagic species of commercial interest.

As such, the robustness of the estuary has direct and indirect impacts on the 254 coastal counties, which account for nearly two-thirds of the coastline population.




In the British colonization of Shawmut Peninsula, the geologic and geographic converged in an idyllic coupling of economy and ecology.

The account of Boston tripling in size through the leveling of hills and infilling of the estuary is practically synonymous with the story of Boston itself.[,] Yet dredging, a practice involving dredgers to create, deepen, or maintain waterways is seldom mentioned despite it being the significant other land-forming practice. Principally, dredging enhances commerce by clearing a path of least resistance to the port. Although dredging has been dynamic across temporal and spatial scales, it remains inconspicuous in aerial photos; the outlines of navigation channels are rarely delineated in conventional maps. This chapter brings dredging to the surface and explains from various angles the role it has had in shaping the city.

There is a small gap in the Northeast Atlantic's continental shelf where the Labrador Sea's cold southerly current is able to slip through and flow into a bowl shaped pocket of water called the Gulf of Maine. Sequestered from the Atlantic Ocean by Georges Bank and Browns Bank, this Gulf is sometimes called a 'sea within a sea',[,]. Comprised of, and articulated by numerous smaller banks and basins, the Gulf's geologically complex floor contributed to the formation of what is believed to have been the most productive fishing grounds in the world.[,] Tales of this phenomenal find- transmitted to Europe in the early 17th century by the likes of Captain John Smith captured the imagination of other explorers who later followed across the Atlantic in search of a new England.

Shawmut Peninsula (1600-1700)

Beginning in the 1630s the British colonized Shawmut Peninsula for many of the same reasons the site had appealed to the Native Americans: it had a spring with pure drinking water, a hill with expansive views, and a tidal channel that cleared a path to the Gulf of Maine. Shawmut was also tucked far into the estuary behind islands and headlands- which served as a primary barrier to naval attack and forces of nature.[, ] From a global perspective the site enabled  merchant sailers to participate in the Triangular Trade, which benefited from the circular, clockwise patterns of currents and winds in the Atlantic Ocean.

Epicenter (1700-1800)

Merchants redirected capital gained from commerce towards new investments in ships and ports – quickly transforming Boston into a global epicenter with trade volumes four times that of New York. The latter half of the 18th century is marked by the beginning of industry, a secession from the British Empire, and an emergent Capitalism. By 1800, the city's population had climbed to 25,000.


Metamorphosis (1800-1900)

A flood of ideas and innovations beginning in the early 1800s – such as the Amphibious Digger, steamboat, and factory system – rapidly transformed New England in this century.[,,] The map from 1907 depicts a dendritic growth that stemmed from America's Industrial Revolution (1780s-1850s). Meanwhile, by the 1850s the commercially desirable fish (Cod, Halibut) became over-fished or depleted; by the 1870s even forage fish like the Alewife (Menhaden) were being exploited.[,] While the percipitous loss of fisheries delivered a blow to the region's economy, industrialization and technology helped balance this loss.

President Roads (1822-1930)

The history of Boston would have to be rewritten in the absence of dredging; between 1820 and 1930 the city's population flourished, swelling from 43,000 to 781,000. Throughout this period dredging occurred in unison with the increasing drafts of larger ships. Starting around 1822, the principal tidal channel leading to Shawmut Peninsula was extensively deepened - with support from agents with vested interest in the economy of New England. Up to the 1930s, the extents of the North Channel and President Roads were maintained to a uniform depth of -35 ft.

President Roads (1930 - Present)

Ships having a 39.5ft draft (Panamax) started becoming common around the time of Panama Canal's opening (1914). Boston deepened a large portion of its navigation tributaries to -40ft in the late 1990s and maintains and leverages its status as the principal distribution point for regional commerce. This depth still accommodates most petroleum tankers, carriers, containerships, and LNG tankers with the caveat of larger, Post-Panamax ships having to wait on the tide for extra depth. The South Channel and the Narrows are limited to smaller ships and barges.


Mounting Geopolitical Pressures

In their 2011-12 report on logistics and supply chains, the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council calls the shipping industry "global trade's weakest link." Rightfully, a radical shift in maritime trade is being anticipated, and several mounting geopolitical pressures such as rising costs of transport; demographic shifts; emission mitigation efforts; the potential emergence of new Trans-Arctic shipping routes; a modernized, widened Panama Canal by 2015 are shaking up this industry. In preparation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and MassPort have begun examining the feasibility of deepening the North Channel and President Roads to a depth of 45-50 feet. There is concern that a failure to meet a new global standard may lead to cascading, multidimensional losses such as decreased  purchasing power, loss of capital flows, and increased emissions from having to truck goods in and out of the city.


Developed in the 1950s, containerization is an efficient system of freight transport based on standardized units of steel intermodal containers called TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). TEUs filled with cargo are loaded and unloaded, stacked, transported over long distances, and transferred from one mode of transport to another – intact. Initially driven by demands of a post-war boom, containerization in-and-of-itself became a driver of growth.

Top 15 U.S. customs districts along the Atlantic Coast by volume of cargo, in metric tons. Boston's trade volume is the largest in New England. The principal dry bulk cargos in Boston include salt and cement imports, and scrap and newsprint exports.

Infrastructure, logistics, and technology allows cargo off-loaded in Boston to reach Chicago in 24 hours by truck or 32 hours by rail.

The years between 1987 and 2008 – bookended by Black Monday and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis – saw a four-fold increase in the total volume of goods handled by U.S. ports. Starting in the 1990s, the rise of personal computing and an expanding internet accelerated the globalization of information flows. Concurrently, free-trade agreements such as the GATT and the NAFTA transformed business strategies while phenomena such as trickle-across, rising income inequality, the dot-com bubble and online shopping redefined patterns of consumption.[, , , ]  In the United States, the strong growth in containerized shipping peaked in 2007 and subsequently broke below it's upward trend line in 2008. The peak year for Boston's Conley Terminal was also 2007, when 220,000 TEU were handled.

“Using dredged material as a resource is important, one could almost say urgent, because use –  rather than disposal – has broad societal, environmental and financial benefits.  It contributes to global sustainability.”

- International Association of Dredging Companies, Netherlands

In the past, dredged sediment not suitable for beach nourishment was directed to and disposed of at several locations throughout Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Presently, open water disposal must conform to the EPA's Ocean Dumping Criteria. Since the 1970s, Boston has utilized the Massachusetts Bay Disposal Site for open water disposal.

Containing the costs of maintaining adequate port capacity is challenging; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, considers open water disposal a cost-effective and environmentally sound option.


Basin geometry, sediment supply, and oceanographic processes all contribute to the sedimentary patterns (self-organizing) observed in the Boston Harbor. Fine sediments accumulate in this estuary because of its restricted flushing and low-wave environment. 


“ Tide is the vertical rise and fall of water accompanied by the horizontal movement of the water, known as a tidal current. The moon and sun generate tidal forces. However, weather, seismic events, or other natural forces also influence tides and river flows; floods or other non-tidal currents also affect tidal currents. Current is affected by differences in bathymetry or the depth of the ocean.”

- Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force


While tide is the regulating force that effectively mixes and renews the water in the estuary, overall health and ecological stability of estuaries may be impacted by changes in this water circulation. A simplified calculation using the volume of freshwater input can approximate the residency period (renewal period) of the water in this estuary. This equation suggests that dams, dredged channels, urbanization – as well as rainfall patterns impacted by climate change –  have effects on this exchange rate.

In Boston Harbor, turn-over time is about ten days during low flow and about two days at the mean annual rate of flow. Further increases in runoff had only a slight additional effect on the rate of the circulation.


For three hundred years, the filling of salt marsh and tidal flat habitats supported the development and growth of Boston. An examination of the historic losses of these habitats would be useful in understaning changes in the extent and quality of this valuable land, but no such data exists.


"The dual nature of sediment as both a threat and a resource to humans and the environment makes its management particularly challenging. Regional sediment management will require coordination among diverse interests, political jurisdictions, and levels of government to achieve environmental, social, and economic goals."

- United States Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP)

Graph: Growth in the volume of container-based trade in the United States 1980-2009. 


This A to Z List of Goals represents the interests of: the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), Adaptation Advisory Committee (AAC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

A From: Concepts, Regional Sediment Management. B-E Four Goals, Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. F-N Management Goals, Climate Ready Estuaries Synthesis Of Adaptation Options. O-Z Cross-Cutting Strategies, Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report



Link phenomena over multiple spatial and temporal scales – through collaborative partnerships that view sand as a resource – using designs that moderate a broad range of sediment-moving forces.


Balance and protect the natural, social, cultural, historic, and economic interests of the marine ecosystem through integrated management.


Recognize and protect biodiversity, ecosystem health, and the interdependence of ecosystems.


Support wise use of marine resources, including renewable energy, sustainable uses, and infrastructure.


Incorporate new knowledge as the basis for management that adapts over time to address changing social, technological, and environmental conditions.


Maintain/restore wetlands.


Maintain sediment transport.


Preserve coastal land/development.


Maintain shorelines utilizing “soft” measures.


Maintain shorelines utilizing “hard” measures.


Maintain water availability.


Maintain water quality.


Preserve habitat for vulnerable species.


Manage invasive species.


Combine mitigation and adaptation strategies.


Identify and fill critical information gaps.


Advance risk and vulnerability assessments.


Evaluate and prioritize adaptation strategies for implementation.


Support local communities.


Improve planning and land use practices.


Enhance emergency preparedness.


Encourage ecosystem-based adaptation.


Continue to seek expert advice and stakeholder input.


Ensure agency and regional coordination.


Promote communication and outreach.


Start now, be bold.


East River Bike Pier






Data obtained from United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects, 2011 Revision.

Taichung Gateway Park City





A Catalog of Ideas

Designed by Aershop. Est. 2009

Architecture · Environment · Research

Table of contents


◦ Aershop/People/Projects

At Aershop, we examine relationships between many types of patterns in our effort to identify and develop novel combinations of forms, materials, policies, and technologies that aptly confront and engage known dilemmas.

In our imagined scenarios, innovative technologies are perceived as being integral to adapting the international DNA to the ever-accelerating pace of change. Aershop's mission: To Cultivate Adaptive Technologies For Tomorrow, reflects this point of view.