William McDonough Keynotes Bay Areas’s “Sink or Swim” Panel

Rising Tides at the Exploratorium
Photo Credit: BCDC 50th Anniversary. Pictured: John Laird, David Lewis, Zack Wasserman, Greg Dalton, Bill McDonough, Mike Ghielmetti, Mary Huss, Elizabeth Ranieri


September 16th marked the 50th anniversary of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) in San Francisco.  The commission was started in order to “keep shallow waters from being filled by growth-hungry municipalities,” wrote John King, urban design critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. The state agency must review all projects proposed within the San Francisco bay and within 100 feet of it its shoreline.

BCDC’s 50th Anniversary Summit: “Sink or Swim: Adapting to Rising Tides in the San Francisco Bay,” featured panel discussions, including a keynote from William McDonough. The panels are to encourage participants and advisers to start “re-envisioning how we live with the bay,” says Larry Goldzband, executive director of the commission.  The goal is to commit resources and political capital to the effort of adapting the waterfront for the future, including the threat of climate change and sea level rise.

One of the key components of “Sink or Swim,” will be a design challenge scheduled to launch later this fall. The design challenge will “introduce sea level rise at a local scale to the general public so that it’s not too technical or too scary,” according to Gil Kelley, director of citywide planning in San Francisco. “We want to tap people’s’ imagination about how we can make tomorrow’s waterfront an exciting place to be.”