The annual OLIN summer intern project provides an opportunity for both interns and design staff to work on community-driven pro bono design work that has real-world impact. And this summer, our 2019 interns had the opportunity to take this work abroad both to help inform design and planning efforts in complex environments and to give back to a vulnerable community.
Since 2017, OLIN has been engaged in an ongoing advocacy effort called Resilience Infrastructure and Sustainable Environments for Puerto Rico – or RISE PR – with Puerto Rico-based landscape architecture firm, ECo Design Studio led by Edmundo Colón Izquierdo. Puerto Rico is at a tipping point with its infrastructure and urban land use, threatening water quality, compromising critical natural assets, and diminishing capacity for flood protection. The current recovery efforts have become partially stagnated by broken networks, existing supply chain challenges, and failing built systems. It has also been stymied by a lack of capacity in planning and design, the slow pace of federal funding, and a lack of commonly shared goals for reducing hazards and improving the territorial economy. Without new planning efforts, Puerto Rico must rely on decades-old flood mitigation programs that will channelize urban rivers and further degrade the island’s environmental assets.
In support of RISE PR, our summer interns worked closely with design and ECo staff to create profiles for urban rivers in Puerto Rico that are targeted for flood mitigation by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The profiles, available through a web-based interactive atlas, identify plans that will depict physical landscape characteristics, community and culture, land use, and projections of future risks and opportunities. The interns also compiled a “kit of parts” for potential landscape operations in various conditions along the rivers.
On July 16th of this year, our interns had the opportunity to visit four of the five rivers of focus across the eastern and northeastern region of Puerto Rico in support of their project work. They conducted research of the rivers and the surrounding context through photo and visual analysis and sketching, and met with several local organizations to gain further insight into the impacted communities.
The final web-based atlas will further support the RISE PR initiative as well as other OLIN project work – in particular, OLIN Labs. The intern project is an example of new innovative methods and tools that can be used for communicating complex and layered analysis and planning concepts with clients and communities in web-based formats. The interactive portal will also offer the opportunity to push innovation studio-wide and benefit OLIN project work moving forward.
A huge thank you to OLIN staff for their help with this year’s project:
And, of course, to our 2019 Interns:
Josh Ketchum, Rob Levinthal, Hangxing Liu, and Yutong Zhan
“I have to say, I am amazed by the sharing consensus rooted in OLIN’s daily work, and I felt lucky to be given the opportunity to work across different typologies and scales. RISE PR, as our intern project, not only strengthened my skills in framing questions through a landscape lens but also taught me a new way to express that narrative in an interactive and immersive way through ESRI story map. Working with OLIN’s talented team this summer is unforgettable.”
– Hangxing Liu, OLIN Summer 2019 Intern