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

Fall studio: August - December 2022

Pre-application webinar: 1:30-3:00 pm, Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Application process: see below

Letter of interest deadline: 5:00 pm, Monday, May 2, 2022

Sample 2021 Letter of Interest: download here (Word file)

Questions? Contact Lyndsey Cooper at

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

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 Interested municipalities can learn more about the larger Climate-adaptive Design Process by visiting

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 to climate risks
  • 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 climate adaptation and resiliency
East Strand waterfront design proposal along the Rondout Creek. (Image by L. Li & X. Wan, LA6020 Studio, Spring 2018 Cornell University)

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

  • Commitment to and understanding of inclusive stakeholder engagement (required)
  • Awareness of social, economic and/or infrastructure vulnerabilities on its waterfront
  • New or changing risks, challenges, and opportunities on its waterfront, including development
  • Interest in walkable waterfront public spaces promoting boating, fishing, festivals, farmers markets or other activities, access, and connectivity to a thriving downtown
  • Interest in incorporating climate resilience into updates of its comprehensive plan, zoning, code, Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and/or Brownfield Opportunity Area

2022 Application Process

Please answer the questions below in a letter of interest (sample letter available here) from the municipal governing board, sent by 5:00 pm on Monday, May 2, 2022 to Finalists will be notified in June of next steps in the process. All communities will be contacted by July with final decision. Municipalities must be located on the tidal Hudson River. Support from community-based organizations and waterfront users and decisionmakers (other than the municipality) are strongly encouraged and can be documented in attached letters of support. Letters of support from additional landowners should clearly express understanding that the CaD studio will address NYS projections of sea-level rise and flooding. These instructions are online at

Questions for CaD Community Applicants

1. Name of municipality

2. Characterize the risks you face in your waterfront, including economic, ecological, and social, and how they may be exacerbated by climate change (for example, visit the Columbia’s Hudson River Flood Impact Mapper and explore various sea-level rise and storm scenarios). Are there specific risks and sites of concern?

3. Has your municipality completed, or is it planning to complete, a climate vulnerability assessment, Community Resilience Building Workshop, Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), 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 projects, plans or policy under development or on the horizon (e.g., comprehensive plan, zoning updates, LWRP update, grant funded project, development interest)?

4. Briefly characterize the makeup and diversity of your community and its current and future waterfront users. What are some initial ideas on how can the CaD studio effectively engage a representative cross section of community members?

5. 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). List one or more community-based organization that could assist with public outreach and engagement.

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

Download this webpage as a fact sheet: 2022 CaD Community Application fact sheet (PDF)

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

Read the DEC CaD 2022 press release