Luka Alandra Hamel-Serenity

PH.D. IN THE CONSTRUCTED ENVIRONMENT, 2020

Luka Alandra Hamel-Serenity


Resilience and the Coastal City: Panarchy in the Built Environment of the US Northeast

It sure seems like the community is doing more and more work on the pier. It never feels high enough. Look at the shoreline there; was that always so far back? What happened to the marsh? And how long has the tide been this close to the top of the barriers? 

Are we doing something about these problems, or just buying time?

Land loss, flooding, and damage to infrastructure and property around the multi-state watershed have the imminent potential to reshape the Chesapeake Bay watershed region. With some of the country’s wealthiest areas in and around Washington DC, many other localities in the Chesapeake – the Eastern Shore, Southeastern Virginia – retain significant vulnerability to climate shocks. Knowledge about climate adaptation already exists; the remaining questions are equity, implementation, and sustainability. Communities around the watershed are not ready for the next nor’easter, the next major hurricane, or the next ten years of climate stress. Adaptation needs to go beyond buying time. In elevating roads and structures or strategic retreat, a lot more will be done before we are ready for the next 100 years.

Luka Alandra Hamel-Serenity (he/her) is a PhD candidate entering his fourth year at the Constructed Environment program at the UVA School of Architecture. Luka investigates the intersection between racial justice, climate resilience, and place attachment in the coastal urban community. He has his M.Arch from Portland State University in Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Princeton, with Highest Honors. Raised as a designer but re-trained as a researcher, Luka’s dissertation topic will lead to scholarship and community engagement informed by racial justice. Based out of Norfolk as of July 2023, he will develop relationships and support neighborhoods in Chesapeake urban areas threatened by storms, flooding, erosion, sea level rise, and other elements of climate change as well as persistent social inequity.

Born in Baltimore, MD, and raised outside of Annapolis, MD, Luka has seen the effects of sea level rise on the Severn River in his hometown, twenty minutes from the Chesapeake Bay. At UVA, Luka is a four-time officer for the Constructed Environment Plus student corps. He has taught studio with Ali Fard, researched wetland extents in Norfolk with Brian Davis, and been accepted for internships and fellowships with the City of Annapolis Planning and Zoning, the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation, and Wetlands Watch in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

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