Re-imagining design storm criteria for the challenges of the 21st century

Samuel A. Markolf, Mikhail V. Chester, Alysha M. Helmrich, Kelsey Shannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Design storm criteria (i.e., the specific intensity and/or frequency to which infrastructure systems are designed to withstand) are a critical part of resilience efforts within urban and infrastructure systems. However, factors like climate change and increasing complexity within our urban systems call into question the viability of current approaches to and implementation of design storm criteria moving forward. This paper seeks to identify design practices and strategies that are well-suited for the increasingly complex and rapidly changing contexts in which our cities and infrastructure are operating. We posit that the advancement of a multi-scalar perspective on resilience will be increasingly necessary in response to the growing challenges our cities and infrastructure face. At the scale of single components/sub-systems, return periods (or similar criteria) will likely remain a necessary element of the design process. At the scale of the entire system(s), approaches like safe-to-fail, robust decision making, and enhanced sensing and simulation appear well suited for complementing existing approaches by more explicitly considering failure consequences in the design and management processes. Ultimately, this paper seeks to spur continual research and advancement of these topics in order to facilitate the evolution of the design storm process for an increasingly complex and non-stationary world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102981
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Climate change
  • Complexity
  • Infrastructure systems
  • Resilience
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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