James B. Francis Lecture on the Built Environment

The James B. Francis Lecture on the Built Environment

Keeping Boston Above Water: Engineering Solutions Then and Now to Make and Protect Boston’s Waterfront

Sept. 28, 5:00-6:00 ETIC Atrium

Like many coastal cities, Boston faces imminent challenges as sea levels rise. Boston’s situation has the added complexity however, that so much of it consists of man-made land: the waterfront, Backbay, and Logan airport, for example, are all the result of construction efforts to enlarge the habitable land of the original small peninsula. What are the implications of rising sea levels for this made land?

Join us to hear two speakers address the topic:

Nancy S. Seasholes, historian and archeologist, is the acclaimed authority on Boston’s made land. Her ground-breaking book, Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston (MIT Press, 2003) and her edited volume, The Atlas of Boston History (University of Chicago Press, 2019) exhaustively detail the efforts of Bostonians from the colonial period to the present to create more land. Her talk will highlight the extent of the made land and focus on the different ways the land was made and the materials used.

Julie Eaton Ernst, PE (UMass Lowell Civil Engineering BS Eng ’14, MS Eng ’17) is a resilience team leader at Weston & Sampson. Julie will speak about integrating climate resilience into the redesign of Moakley Park in South Boston, and some of the technical challenges given the subsurface of the site and history of land-making. Her talk will address climate change projections for complex urban waterfronts and the challenges and strategies for implementing coastal resilience on filled tidal lands, including settlement, drainage, underground utilities and contamination. 

Sponsored by: The Architectural Studies Program, Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.