The U-Link Team believes it is important to visit existing coastal structures, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and hear from stakeholders in order to properly design more advanced coastal structures. On February 12, 2019, the U-Link team visited Dinner Key Marina, Kennedy Park, Alice Wainwright Park, and Virginia Key and observed several strategies for coastal protection.

Dinner Key and Kennedy Park are part of an effort by Miami Dade County (MDC) to (1) improve water quality to Biscayne Bay, specifically nutrient loading for which there are regulatory limits, and (2) reduce coastal erosion and stabilize shorelines. The restorations to Kennedy Park are the best examples. This shoreline has been highly altered with past development by dredged and fill, and then overgrowth of the Australian pine Casuarina equestifolia. The Australian pine was removed aggressively throughout MDC after Hurricane Andrew. This tree accelerated coastal erosion and was a hazard during hurricanes (falling and blocking roadways). The shoreline was graded and replanted with native mangroves. Even the fill-island off the Dinner Key Marina has been cleared of Australian Pines and replanted. In many areas along the shoreline, riprap has been used to stabilize the sediment, and mangroves allowed to overgrow the area. Some constructed wetlands exist to handle storm water run-off and prevent direct drainage into Biscayne Bay.

The U-Link team was impressed with the restoration efforts of MDC. Replanting mangroves appeared to have reduced nutrient loads, and the upward grade of the shoreline helped maintain visibility over the mangroves. Still, the team discussed the desire by local residents to have a less obstructed view. The riprap and mangrove appears to have stabilized the shoreline.

Alice Wainwright Park shoreline is protected by a concrete sea wall. The sea wall contrasted in many ways with the shoreline restoration in Kennedy Park. The lack of mangroves meant algae was visible near the sea wall, but the view was unobstructed even at the shoreline. More of the park was usable, since park residents can walk easily to the edge of the shoreline. In addition, the team noted that the concrete was in poor shape: cracks were visible throughout the wall and the bottom of the wall was significantly eroded. Construction appeared to be substandard.

These two parks illustrated the tradeoff in a stark way: riprap and mangroves are biologically friendly, but take up a lot of space and impede ocean visibility.

The restoration of Virgina Key involved removing Australian Pines and constructing sand dunes, which were stabilized by planting grasses. As with the Mangrove and riprap, little or no algae was observed. The dunes and shoreline allowed full visibility of the ocean and were visually more attractive than mangroves. Nonetheless, the dunes took up a significant amount of land. Further, construction of dunes are not feasible in areas the shoreline that do not have beaches. The team was also struck by the cost of the restoration. The cost was several million dollars for a relatively small amount of shoreline, despite the large amount of volunteer labor and that the city owned the land.

Clearly, existing coastal protection strategies all have strengths and weaknesses and do not work for all types of shoreline. The next generation of coastal structures must innovate in a way which improves on existing strategies.



Coastal communities are facing significant challenges including vulnerabilities in existing infrastructure, economic prosperity and increasing land-based sources of pollution to coastal waters leading to public health threats; all of these challenges are exacerbated by climate change. Existing coastal structures may have significant negative effects on coastal ecosystems, so a need exists to innovate sustainable and bio-friendly coastal structures that improve resilience and have a positive impact on property values and ecological sustainability.

Next Generation Coastal Structures is an interdisciplinary research team created to solve this multi-facted problem. The team is currently funded by a ULINK grant from the University of Miami. An important goal of the research is to gather information and support from environmental groups, government, property owners, and other stakeholders.

Articles and comments posted here are designed to facilitate information sharing between the Next Generation team and these stakeholders.



Esber Andiroglu

Associate Professor of the Practice
Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
University of Miami
Dr. Andiroglu is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer and a LEED AP accredited educator with academic focus on building environmental systems, water resources, and sustainability areas. His research area of interes is aimed at development of engineered solutions related to smart water-energy infrastructures in response to climate change challenges in urban community settings.

David L. Kelly

Professor of Economics
Academic Director, MS in Sustainable Business
Miami Business School
University of Miami
Professor David L. Kelly is the Academic Director of the MS in Sustainable Business, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Business Research Cluster, and Professor of Economics at the University of Miami Business School. Professor Kelly has previously held positions at UC-Santa Barbara and Carnegie Mellon University. Professor Kelly has published widely on the design of environmental regulation, optimal climate change policy, adaptation to climate change, economic growth and the environment, and the economics of natural disasters.

Joel Lamere

Assistant Professor
School of Architecture
University of Miami
Joel Lamere is an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture, where his teaching and research address the future of building practice, through innovation in emerging means and methods. He was formerly the Homer A. Burnell Chair at MIT, where he had been teaching courses in architectural geometry, design, and representation since 2007. In the context of U-Link, he hopes to lend his expertise in digital fabrication and design to the team's diverse collection of talents.

Billie G. Lynn

Associate Professor
Graduate Director and Associate Chair
Department of Art History
University of Miami
Billie Lynn is an Associate Professor of Sculpture. Her research and artwork focus on climate change and social justice issues.

Renato Molina

Assistant Professor
MES Division, Rosensteil School of Marine Science
University of Miami
Renato Molina is an Assistant Professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami. Dr. Molina is an environmental and resource economist. Dr. Molina is interested in the economic impact of natural disasters, and how devise public policy to mitigate their negative effects on society. In this project he will work with David to analyze the link between coastal structures and housing prices.

Kathleen Sealey

Director, Coastal Ecology Laboratory
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
University of Miami
The work of an ecologist is like putting together a puzzle. Kathleen Sealey spends time looking at the animals and plants along a shoreline - from grasses and birds along a beach to fish and algae under the water. Dr. Sealey works to put together the pieces to understand how communities work, and what processes keep the whole system healthy.

James Sobczak

STEM Librarian
University of Miami
James Sobczak joined the faculty of of the University of Miami Libraries in the fall of 2018 and is currently a Librarian Assistant Professor at the Otto G. Richter Library on the Coral Gables campus. James received a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington's Information School (iSchool) in 2018. Prior to this, he received a Master of Architecture from Yale University in 2012. His research interests currently focus on development of information and critical literacy within the design and science disciplines. James also looks to explore how libraries can assist traditional STEM fields to productively engage with the art and design disciplines to create a more holistic approach to higher education, i.e. transforming STEM-focused pedagogy into STEAM-focused pedagogy.

Prannoy Suraneni

Assistant Professor
Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
University of Miami
Prannoy Suraneni is an Assistant Professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Miami. He obtained his MS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011) and his Ph.D. from ETH Zurich (2015) both in Civil Engineering. Prior to joining the University of Miami, he worked for two years as a post doctoral researcher at Oregon State University. He works on cementitious materials and his primary research interests are infrastructure sustainability, concrete durability, new and advanced infrastructure materials, supplementary cementitious materials, chemical admixtures, and cement hydration. In the context of U-Link, Prannoy's main contribution is expected to be in the development of novel biophilic concrete materials.