As debate and warnings about climate change swirl, some architects are creating Rhode Island buildings that incorporate elements to address what has turned out to be the most talked-about environmental issue of the 21st century.
“The new YMCA Sailing Center on Turner Point is close to 14 feet above sea level,” said Andrew Baer, principal in the Charlestown-based architecture and design firm Oyster Works. “Both the sailing center and the marine-biology center are [designed to be built] on a grade beam foundation that will allow flood waters to flow underneath the building, without harming the building.”
Oyster Works designed the master plan for YMCA Camp Fuller at Turner Pointin South Kingstown, a complete redesign and rebuilding of the facility, with the first phase of construction expected to begin in the fall.
“The building design anticipates the impact of climate change, specifically the chronic changes brought about by rising sea levels and the catastrophic impact of major storms – storms that are forecast to increase in both frequency and severity,” said Baer.
The coeducational summer camp is located on Point Judith Salt Pond in the village of Wakefield in South Kingstown. The new design connects the sailing center and marine-biology buildings by covered porches. Camper tent cabins, staff cabins, classrooms and offices are part of the master plan.
Oyster Works has examined building codes and best practices in New Orleans and South Florida, areas hard hit by hurricanes, and incorporated those practices into the firm’s architectural designs, said Baer.
Elevation is the most visible part of the climate change-confronting design of the sailing center.
Within the walls another critical element is built in – a practice growing more common after hurricane-devastated communities have dealt with soaked interior walls and insulation, often resulting in structural damage and health hazards from mold.