LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio Launches Website Offering Municipalities Free Access to Planning Resources

03/11/2013 03:34 PM

BATON ROUGE – The free Louisiana Resiliency Assistance Program, or LRAP, run by the LSU College of Art & Design’s Coastal Sustainability Studio, or CSS, has launched a website,, which provides village, town, city and parish governments with a profusion of informational resources, access to professional experts, a platform for networking between jurisdictions and a webinar and workshop series, “Planning for a Resilient Future.”


The purpose of the new website is to serve as a tool to help Louisiana municipalities prepare for an uncertain future in the dynamic coastal environment.


Louisiana communities face serious vulnerabilities related to natural disasters and climate change: sea level rise land subsidence, changes in rainfall patterns, wetlands loss, storm surge and increased storm strength, to name but a few. Most of these communities, however, do not have access to the resources or expertise needed to adequately address these serious issues. The new LRAP website fills this gap.


“LRAP will be of interest to mayors, city councils, police juries, town administrators, city planners, floodplain managers, emergency managers and staff of local governments, as well as to community leaders and concerned citizens,” said CSS Director Jeff Carney. “We encourage them all to get involved in this free program.”


The mission of LRAP is to collect, develop, house, and disseminate current planning efforts, resources and best practices to promote, assist and build networks around resiliency planning in Louisiana. One of its goals is to position Louisiana as a national forerunner in planning for climate impacts. Another goal is to build a resiliency planning and communications network enveloping and assisting all Louisiana communities.


Established at CSS in January 2012 as a supplement to the Comprehensive Resiliency Program of the Louisiana Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit, LRAP has spent its pilot year assisting 30 communities by gathering information and resources, developing locally-generated, case-specific strategies and policies, and offering workshops and webinars.


“We’ve understood the importance of planning at the local level from the very beginning of the recovery process,” Louisiana Office of Community Development Executive Director Pat Forbes said. “And planning is not only important for recovery of a community, but for its long-term resilience in the face of future disasters. That’s why we’re so pleased to have been able to fund these planning efforts and to work with the LSU CSS to extend the value of this planning to any community in the state that wants to benefit.”


LRAP services include guidance on land use, water management and zoning ordinances that enhance community resiliency; implementation planning; resources including case studies, best practices, information about funding opportunities and access to a variety of resiliency organizations; building of partnerships and networks between communities and parishes across the state; training opportunities such as webinars, workshops and educational events; and cohesive vision for regional implications


Goals of LRAP include:

• Building local capacity – provide communities assistance in building their institutional capacity to implement resiliency planning projects;
• Showcase Louisiana resources and best practices – gather, analyze and present best practices from participating communities in a unified, legible form;
• Encourage partnerships and networks – build and participate in networks and partnerships that can offer support at the community, parish, regional and state level;
• Strengthen institutional relationships – provide information and guidance to government, economic and social institutions to further resiliency planning efforts and provide a means of communication across communities;
• Express a shared vision – convey the full breadth and national significance of Louisiana’s risk-based planning efforts;
• Build connections between disciplines – break down barriers to collaboration between the various disciplines working on coastal resiliency issues;
• Work at multiple scales – present resiliency planning projects at various levels from small villages to cities, parishes and statewide;
• Serve as a national example – position Louisiana as one of the national forerunners in planning for climate impacts


LRAP work is overseen by Carney, who is also an associate professor of architecture in the LSU School of Architecture, and three research fellows – city/regional planner Katrina Durbak, landscape architect Patrick Michaels and climate scientist/hazards geographer Emily Powell. Graduate students in architecture, landscape design, environmental sciences, engineering, natural resources, and public administration assist the LRAP staff.


Through the state’s Comprehensive Resiliency Program, funds are distributed to communities and parishes for 30 projects that will develop forward-thinking land use plans, reduce the risk of future damage to communities and guide development, infrastructure and non-structural mitigation practices. These pilot projects are intended to develop innovative strategies in resiliency planning and be shared with communities throughout the state.


About Coastal Sustainability Studio
Based in the LSU College of Art & Design, CSS presents an innovative new model for coastal sustainability. Many previous coastal protection and restoration efforts in Louisiana have been engineering or science based, leaving out the human element. CSS offers a new paradigm, allowing designers – including architects, landscape designers, and city planners – to have a voice in the process. The studio focuses on issues of human habitation in a fragile yet vital landscape.


“Louisiana’s coastal communities face tremendous challenges, many of which are not being solved because the various disciplines alone cannot cope with the magnitude and complexity of the problems,” Carney said. “CSS was created as a trans-disciplinary program for this reason.”


The CSS mission is to address the challenge of sustaining the ecological, settlement, and economic framework of coastal communities. At CSS, designers, scientists and engineers come together to intensively study and respond to issues at the intersection of settlement, coastal restoration, flood protection and the economy. The studio is founded around the concept of “design thinking,” and design research projects are the primary focus. All CSS projects include faculty and students from the LSU School of Architecture collaborating with other disciplines.


Founded in 2009, CSS work has been recognized nationally and internationally including the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture 2012-13 Collaborative Practice Award, Environmental Design Research Association’s 2012 Place Research Award and selection to represent the American Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Biennale – the world’s premier architecture exhibition – with a collaborative project with Princeton University, “In the Mississippi Delta: Constructing with Water.”


CSS Associate Director Lynne Carter is also associate director of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, which researches climate hazards to increase the region’s resiliency and level of preparedness for weather extremes now and in the future. CSS board members include Robert Twilley, executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant Program and professor in the LSU School of the Coast & Environment; Jori Erdman, a professor in and director of the LSU School of Architecture; Elizabeth Mossop, a professor in the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture; Clint Willson, a professor in the LSU College of Engineering; and John R. White, an associate professor in the LSU School of the Coast & Environment.






Contact Laura Larkin
LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio


Contact Aaron Looney
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013