Interdisciplinary Research Receives Mayor’s Choice Award

Rendering Credit

Graduate Research Assistants: Gerry Failano, MA; Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA) Candidate, Eric Teeples, Doctor of Architecture (DArch) Candidate

Project Researchers: Georgina Casey, Climate Resilience Specialist, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Desiree Joy Malabed, BEnvD, School of Architecture



The Beachfront Sea Level Rise Adaptation project was completed by the interdisciplinary team from University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Architecture, Environmental Research and Design Laboratory; Hawai‘i Sea Grant, Center for Smart Building and Community Design; School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Climate Resilience Collaborative. This academic design research merges science with design to create conceptual architectural design renderings to visualize sea level rise adaptation strategies over time for buildings, utilities, transportation, and open space. The goal of these renderings are to foster discussion and contribute to design guides, pilot projects, and new policies that prepare for future flooding.

The academic team, under Wendy Meguro, the principal investigator, is an associate professor of sustainable buildings and community design with a joint appointment in the School of Architecture and Sea Grant College Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Although she was not able to attend, she is proud to have led the team to this amazing achievement.


Dr. Chip Fletcher, the co-principal investigator, is the Interim Dean of the School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Dr. Fletcher’s research and teaching focus on climate change, coastal resiliency, and natural coastal systems.

“Although sea level rise is a huge challenge, if all stakeholders move forward with one vision, we can view this as an opportunity rather than a threat.” -Dr. Chip Fletcher


Josephine Briones, a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, who worked on the team for more than two years, contributed to this research project as a Sea Grant Fellow from 2020-2022. After earning her Doctor of Architecture, she furthered her involvement on this project contributing her research and expertise in the field.

“Confronting the reality of sea-level rise, these architectural designs embody innovation, a testament to collaboration, and a space where challenges evolve into possibilities” – Josephine Briones.


Georgina Casey, a Climate Resilience Specialist focusing on sea level rise and climate change research, with a background in environmental and ocean sciences, joined the project in the spring of 2022. Her partnership with ERDL as a researcher from the Climate Resilience Collaborative in SOEST has been instrumental in addressing the cross-disciplinary aspects of the project.

“I am very grateful to have received this award, and it was an honor to represent our collaborative team at the AIA Honolulu Design Awards Gala. This recognition means a lot to the team and we are proud to be the recipients of this award. Thank you Mayor Rick Blangardi for the award and for AIA Honolulu for hosting a great event.”  -Georgina Casey


Gerry Failano, one of the graduate research assistants on the project, joined in the spring of 2022. Currently pursuing a Masters of Landscape Architecture, Gerry’s research focuses on productive landscapes within the urban environment of Hawaiʻi, aiming to contribute towards addressing food security. With his diverse academic background, receiving a Masters in Political Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Gerry brings new expertise and perspectives to the project.

“This is an amazing achievement for our team. I am grateful to see all of our hard work recognized and shared with our design and academic communities. Thank you to Mayor Rick Blangiardi and AIA Honolulu for this great award.” -Gerry Failano

Eric Teeples became a graduate research assistant on the project in the spring of 2022. His current studies as a Doctor of Architecture student explore architectural solutions for the development of resilient communities in Hawaiʻi. His dedication to architecture and passion for creating resilient communities make him an invaluable member of the team.

“This recognition was such a pleasant surprise and I’m thankful for all those involved! Working with this team is an enriching experience and it is exciting to see the hard work result in something as amazing as The Mayor’s Choice Award.” – Eric Teeples


Project collaborators include principal investigator (PI) Wendy Meguro, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; co-investigator Charles “Chip” Fletcher, PhD; climate change adaptation specialist Josephine Briones, DArch; climate resilience specialist Georgina Casey; graduate research assistants Gerry Failano, MA; (Master of Landscape Architecture student), and Eric Teeples (Doctor of Architecture student); junior research assistant Desiree Malabed, BEnvD; and rendering tutors Chris Lomboy, DArch, and Andrew Tang, AIA, SBA. . Other contributors include Eileen Peppard, Melanie Lander, Dolan Eversole,, and Aiko Tells, BEnvD. Funding was provided by the Office of Naval Research.


A final thanks to the AIA Honolulu Awards Jury, and support from UH School of Architecture, Sea Grant, SOEST.


More project information:  Sea Grant Project Website


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