The Future of Dams: The role of design in supporting complex environmental decisions

Authors: Emily Vogler*, Rhode Island School of Design
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Communication, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Dams, Community Decision Making, Design, Visualizations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Jefferson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Currently in the United States there are over 100,000 dams and in New England the number exceeds 14,000. Many of these dams are over a century old and no longer used for their original purpose. Decisions about whether the dams should be repaired, redesigned or removed are often highly controversial as each dam includes a range of social, ecological and economic trade-offs. For the past 3 years, a group of landscape architecture professors and graduate students from the Rhode Island School of Design have been participating in an interdisciplinary National Science Foundation grant looking at decision making around aging dams in New England. This talk will discuss the RISD team’s research into how the public has been engaged in decisions about their aging dam infrastructure in the past and new methods that are being developed that incorporate public engagement methods from the design and planning disciplines. In addition to developing a process for engagement, this talk will discuss the use of visualizations to synthesis and communicate complex trade-offs, facilitate multi-scale thinking, as well as help communities understand the spatial and physical landscape change associated with dam alternatives.

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