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Do you want help envisioning a thriving, resilient future for your waterfront?

CaD student describing her team's design concepts for Piermont, NY


Fall studio: August - December 2021

Pre-application webinar: 1:30 pm, Monday, April 12, 2021

Register for webinar:

Letter of interest deadline: 5pm, Monday, May 10, 2021

Sample Letter of Interest: download here (Word file)

Questions? Contact Libby Zemaitis at

What is the Climate-adaptive Design studio?

The Climate-adaptive Design (CaD) studio is a collaboration between Cornell University Landscape Architecture Professor Josh Cerra and the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. The semester-long studio links students in landscape architecture with Hudson Riverfront communities to explore design alternatives for thriving, climate-resilient waterfront areas. Community stakeholders take part throughout the studio semester to help inform the design process and support practical results. For more info, watch our 5-minute video at and visit You can also view previous student design boards at

East Strand waterfront design proposal along the Rondout Creek. (Image by L. Li & X. Wan, LA6020 Studio, Spring 2018 Cornell University)

Envisioned community outcomes

  • New conversations about opportunity and change on the waterfront
  • Knowledgeable and inspired community members
  • Shared ideas for how to access funding and resources to adapt the waterfront
  • Increased awareness and capacity to apply resilient concepts and principles in projects, planning and decision making
  • Alternative design concepts in-hand to enhance public awareness and support for adaptation and resiliency

A successful community applicant will have one or more of the following

  • Commitment to inclusive stakeholder engagement (required)
  • Concern about the risks, challenges and opportunities on its waterfront
  • New or changing development pressure on the waterfront
  • Interest in walkable waterfront public spaces promoting boating, fishing, festivals, farmers markets or other activities, access and connectivity to a thriving downtown
  • Interest in a resilient waterfront vision that could be incorporated into comprehensive plan, zoning, code, Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and/or Brownfield Opportunity Area updates
  • Social, economic and/or infrastructure vulnerabilities on its waterfront

How to apply

Please answer the questions below in a letter of interest (sample letter available here) from the municipal governing board, sent by May 10th, 2021 to All communities will be contacted by August. Finalists will be notified in July of next steps in the process. Municipalities must be located on the tidal Hudson River. Support from community-based organizations and any major waterfront landowners (other than the municipality) can be documented in attached letters of support and are strongly encouraged. Letters of support from additional landowners should clearly express understanding that the CaD studio will address NYS projections of sea-level rise and flooding.

Questions for CaD Community Applicants

1. Name of municipality

2. Has your municipality completed, or is it planning to complete, a vulnerability assessment, Community Resilience Building Workshop, Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), or similar plans/studies for its waterfront area? If so, when were they created and last updated? If intended, what is its timeline for initiation and completion?

3. Why does your municipality want to participate in the CaD studio? Will the work contribute to local plans or policy under development or on the horizon (e.g., comprehensive plan, zoning updates, LWRP update, grant funded project, development interest)?

4. List the names and affiliations of three or more people representing municipal boards or committees that will commit to engaging a diversity of stakeholders throughout the semester-long studio (August-December 2021).

5. Name, email address and phone number of point person to contact about this application

Download this webpage as a fact sheet: 2021 CaD Community Application fact sheet (PDF)

Watch our pre-application webinar from 2019: video recording | slide deck (PDF)