by Junpei Asai

1. Academic Work

1.1 Case Study in SF bay area

Figure 1: Ethnic population map in the north part of SF bay area

In Spring 2017, I did a collective case study as a member of a class called Underwater Seminar. The objective is to address the urgent problem of adapting urbanized regions in Sf bay area to rising sea levels and other water related issues with focusing on dynamic interaction among 4 types of water: seawater, groundwater, surface water, and stormwater.

Figure 2: Median house income map in the north part of SF bay area

Those case studies show a typical issue in managing water systems related to socio-economic conditions. For instance, Hispanic and Black dominant neighborhoods tend to have lower median income and property values (Figure1,2). That brings difficulties in investment for protecting the neighborhood from floods and other water related hazard. It was observed as a general tendency in the bay area. Also, white dominant neighborhoods have different issues because the property values are so high that it is easy to rationalize the flood protection project. Especially, US Army corps Engineer has certain logistics to get federal funds, which is calculated based on the ratio of cost/avoided damage, which is estimated with the property value. Therefore, those rich neighborhoods tend to end up with unreasonable, mono-functional flood protection for only small number of high-value private houses, instead of considering the priority in the regional scale. In conclusion, those case studies bring us an insight about how the existing funding, operational systems make neighborhoods of certain ethnic group vulnerable to flood and rising sea level.

1.2 Studio Exhibition in School

Figure 3: Award ceremony (From the left; me, the dean of the school, my group member)

In March 2017, I presented my project from the last semester in school exhibition. In this event called “Berkeley Circus”, selected students from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City Planning present their projects to alumni and other reviewers.  Fortunately, our group was chosen as a recognized presenter. (Figure 3) That was a good experience in terms of communicating the research and design ideas with practitioners outside of school.

2. Off campus activities

Figure 4: High Line, NYC, designed by James Corner Field Operations

I traveled 3 cities in the east coast, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston in this spring break. I visited High Line in NYC, which is a famous project that turned the abandoned elevated railroad into urban trail with continuous gardens. It was designed by James Corner, an American landscape architect. This is an example how landscape architects revive and activate the city by taking advantage of remained infrastructure. I observed many people enjoy walking the open-air trail through tall buildings in NYC.

Figure 5: Sea Ranch, CA, planned by Lawrence Halprin (The architecture in background designed by Charles W. Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull, Jr. and Richard Whitaker)

Also, I visited Sea Ranch in California (Figure 5), which is a famous project designed by Lawrence Halprin, a famous landscape architect. He did a great job by preserving the coastal landscapes and compelling views while developed houses so that people can enjoy the environment. It is really impressive that their plan layout succeeded keeping the important landscape features. Also, the design coding for the architecture ensured the quality and consistency of the buildings in the entire neighborhood.

3. Acknowledgement

First of all, I apologize the delay of the report. I had been working hard from the end of the semester through the end of the summer because of Berkeley-Nagasaki Workshop (will be reported in the next one) and a summer internship. I truly appreciate the support from Ito Foundation U.S.A. and Friends of UTokyo, Inc. I always feel supported and that makes me brave to seek my own goal. I cannot thank enough for it and would like to give back to the society step by step.