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Eight University Partners Selected for Fourth Envision Resilience Challenge: The 2024 Design Studio and Community Engagement Initiative will Explore Portland and South Portland, Maine

PORTLAND, Maine May 8, 2024 — The Envision Resilience Challenge, a multi-university design studio and community engagement initiative developed by Remain Nantucket, announced today it is headed to Maine with eight universities set to participate. 


Portland, South Portland and the Casco Bay Islands have been selected as study sites for the 2024 fall design studio, which will convene community stakeholders and teams of graduate and undergraduate students studying architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and environmental science. 


The participating universities include Cornell University, Harvard University, University at Buffalo, University of Maine Augusta, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, Yale University and the program’s first international partner, University of Toronto.


Building on the success of its previous challenges in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 2021, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, in 2022 and New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in 2023, the Envision Resilience Challenge will bring to the Greater Portland Region a multidisciplinary network of students, faculty, researchers and practitioners to engage with municipal and community leaders, business owners, local stakeholders and nonprofit and science organizations. University teams will spend the fall 2024 semester working with the communities to understand local challenges, researching potential approaches and proposing designs for how a coastal region can adapt to the impacts of climate change.


“The organization, framework and leadership of the Envision Resilience Challenge does a masterful job of getting out ahead of the semester and establishing high quality partnerships and a true commitment and dedication to engaging with the community,” said Michael Luegering, University of Virginia assistant professor and faculty lead of the 2023 and 2024 UVA studio teams. “That accelerated input and guidance from the program allows our teams to really dive deep into the local culture, traditions and history and engage in a meaningful way.”


Like coastal communities around the world, Portland and South Portland are at the forefront of a changing climate. The Gulf of Maine waters are warming and sea levels are rising at three to four times the global average. Winter storms this year have flooded downtowns, damaged wharves, washed away historic structures and set record high tides. University teams will be tasked with tackling these challenges as they design novel ways of living under future conditions that address the intersecting issues of affordable housing, transportation, urban heat, equity, local industry and ecology.


“Climate change is the defining issue of our time—but instead of fearing the future, this program asks us to reimagine the future we would like to see and then work toward it,” said Wendy Schmidt, founder of Remain. “The Envision Resilience program reminds us that when we collaborate and approach challenges with creativity, we can work toward a brighter future. The eight participating university teams bring the ability to merge spatial and social histories, community input and speculative futures that will become hopeful visions for Portland, Maine and other communities facing similar challenges.”


Throughout the fall semester design studio, the Envision Resilience Challenge will facilitate community programming, events and a public exhibition to showcase the final designs to the region. Since 2021, the program has worked with 346 students, 70 community advisors from eight coastal communities and 22 student teams from 13 universities. 


“The Envision Resilience Challenge brought to New Bedford a creative and data-informed way of thinking about our most pressing climate and resilience challenges,” said Jon Mitchell, New Bedford Mayor. “The model of convening design students with key stakeholders to imagine adaptive solutions grounded in local knowledge and history is an asset to any city. I’m sure the City of Portland, Maine will benefit from their participation, as we did.”


The public is invited to follow along throughout the duration of the Envision Resilience Challenge at and via social media (@envisionresiliencechallenge). To learn more about the previous studios, explore the 2021 Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, 2022 Envision Resilience Narragansett Bay Challenge and 2023 Envision Resilience New Bedford and Fairhaven Challenge.

Additional images, assets and b-roll are available upon request.


Remain works to bring creative thinking to environmental and community challenges, elevate local industry and encourage innovation and resilience. Remain Nantucket engages in charitable work to support the evolution of a healthy year-round community across the island. Remain Ventures invests in buildings and mission-related businesses that strengthen Nantucket’s year-round economy and spark innovation that brings long-term value to the island’s residents. Both Remain Nantucket and Remain Ventures are funded by Wendy Schmidt and her husband Eric to support the local economy, community and environmental vitality of the island of Nantucket.




Wednesday, May 8, 2024



Claire Martin