New Orleans — The Changing Course Leadership Team selected three teams to participate in the Changing Course Lower Mississippi River Delta design competition. These teams will develop innovative designs for a self-sustaining Lower Mississippi River Delta that reduce land loss in the region while improving navigation conditions and strengthening resilience for local communities and industries.

The three finalist teams, chosen after a global search, will compete in the first phase of a design competition that will involve developing solutions to restore the delta’s degraded ecosystem – while meeting the needs of navigation, coastal industries and the region’s unique communities and culture. One or more teams will be selected to advance to a second phase in spring 2015 in which plans will be further refined. The final designs are intended to assist Louisiana coastal planners and engineers with developing the state’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

“The Changing Course competition is giving design teams and agency partners the freedom to think big and to think differently about finding solutions that will not just improve the Lower Mississippi River Delta, but could serve as a global model for other coastal areas around the world,” said Stacy Methvin, Leadership Team Member and retired Shell Oil Company vice president.

“In a very strong competition, these winning teams stood out because their experts bridge strong regional knowledge with innovative ideas from deltas around the world,” said Carlton Dufrechou, Leadership Team Member and general manager, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. “We are confident these teams have the vision and experience to develop bold solutions for the delta and our people, economy and culture.”

“The Rockefeller Foundation is committed to spurring innovation in resilience planning and design that brings together multiple disciplines in new ways and creates bold ideas,” said Nancy Kete, Leadership Team Member and a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “The caliber of these three design teams demonstrates clearly the potential for the Mississippi River Delta to be an international model for resilient recovery. Their innovative ideas will benefit both the regional and national economy and the safety of area residents, particularly the most vulnerable, who are hit hardest by storms and coastal flooding.”

Each team will develop a preferred design for the Lower Mississippi River system, including using the natural power of the Mississippi River to protect and restore the delta landscape while addressing the needs of navigation, flood risk management, fisheries and coastal communities. 

Coastal Louisiana was shaped and built by the Mississippi River. Over the last century, nearly 1,900 square miles of wetlands – an area approximately the size of Delaware – have disappeared due to river management that starves the delta of critical land-building sediment. Changing Course seeks to develop an improved river management plan that can halt land loss and restore the delta ecosystem, while improving navigation and increasing industry and community resilience.

The winning design teams are:

Baird & Associates Team: The Baird Team consists of two primary teams serving the constituents and stakeholders of the delta. Their Delta Team consists of experts with intimate knowledge of the key themes and components required to develop an innovative solution (including communities and industries, shipping and navigation, river structures, dredging, hurricane risk, oyster fishery, commercial and recreational fisheries, wetlands, rivers and watersheds, deltaic and coastal geomorphology). As they assembled their Delta Team, they sought the top local specialist in each area. The strength of their Delta Team also reflects their commitment to the development of world-leading water management expertise in the state of Louisiana. Their Fresh View Team represents a group of planners, scientists and engineers that have a wealth of experience both nationally and internationally. This group is complementary to the Delta Team in terms of expertise (with a pairing in most disciplines) and is meant to bring an outside and fresh view to the challenge. These teams will work collaboratively to develop bold and creative solutions that meet the needs of this Design Competition.

Full Team List: Applied Ecological Services, Baird & Associates (LEAD), Don Hayes, Ph.D., P.E. (University of Nevada Las Vegas), Mark Kulp, Ph.D. (University of New Orleans), Alex McCorquodale, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng. (University of New Orleans), Irv Mendelssohn, Ph.D. (Louisiana State University), Martin O'Connell, Ph.D. (University of New Orleans), Karen O’Neill, Ph.D. (Rutgers University), Don Resio, Ph. D. (University of North Florida), Research Planning, Inc., Harry Roberts, Ph.D. (Louisiana State University), Sasaki Associates, Thomas Soniat, Ph.D. (University of New Orleans), Tetra Tech, Colin Thorne, Ph.D. (University of Nottingham)  Vickerman & Associates. 

Moffatt & Nichol Team: Moffatt & Nichol (M&N), one of the premier coastal engineering firms in the world, has built a diverse team eminently suited to develop an innovative approach to map out the bold decisions and framework necessary for a sustained and prosperous future for the Mississippi River. M&N’s work is dedicated to the complex, interdisciplinary issues surrounding the area “where land meets water,” and the firm enjoys a strong reputation throughout Louisiana and the world for planning, designing and successfully executing large-scale coastal engineering and ecosystem restoration projects. Their highly focused team members include: Deltares, a leading research institute for water and coastal issues known for applying proven expertise to make sound and independent assessments of the physical condition of deltas, coastal areas and river basins; West 8, an award-winning international design and landscape architecture firm composed of multi-disciplinary practitioners of large-scale master planning and design and landscape interventions; Louisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio, a leading voice bridging the efforts of scientists, engineers, architects and landscape architects working to envision a better future for coastal Louisiana; as well as the RAND Corporation, The University of New Orleans Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies.

Full Team List: Deltares, Louisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio, Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies, Moffatt & Nichol (LEAD) , RAND Corporation, University of New Orleans Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Sciences, West8

STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI TEAM: STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI is a unique highly-specialized, multi-disciplinary design and planning team formed to address the particular and complex challenge of restoring the Mississippi River Delta natural deltaic functions in times of climate change. The team is led by H3 Studio (team lead), URS and HKV, and supported by a renowned team of local and international individual collaborators and institutions. STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI fully and deeply understands the importance of the environmental and cultural heritage of the delta and its communities; the critical need for protection and restoration of the delta landscape; the need for the nationally significant economies to prosper; and the simultaneous need for improvement to safety and flood protection such that the aspirations of communities, businesses, varied industries and ports all are respected and integrated. STUDIO MISI-ZIIBI unites experts in delta planning, water management, economics, engineering, urban design, hydrology, flood risk, land-use planning, community planning, navigation, ecology and landscape architecture in a collaborative community-based design methodology for innovation across all deltaic systems and issues. Collectively, their local knowledge of the Mississippi River Delta and global expertise of deltaic landscapes have generated innovative yet pragmatic design solutions throughout the world, all of which have been founded on scientific, ecological and engineering rigor, and an aspiration for a healthy, dynamic and resilient delta.

Full Team List: AEP River Operations, Sam Bentley, Ph.D. (Louisiana State University), Ron Brinson, Bureau Drift Ecological Planning, Coastal Environments, Inc., Colectivo, Mark Davis (Tulane University) , Robbert de Koning Landscape Architect, Delft University of Technology, George Duffy, Dynamic Solutions, H3 Studio (LEAD), HKV Consultants, Derek Hoeferlin (Washington University in St. Louis), HR&A Advisors, Alexander Kolker, Ph.D. (Tulane University), Alex McCorquodale, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng. (University of New Orleans), Thomas Michot, Ph.D. (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Heidi Nepf,  Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Andrew Nyman, Ph.D. (Louisiana State University), Jenneke Visser, Ph.D. (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), URS.

More information on Changing Course is available at