LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio Teams Up with Moffatt & Nichol and West 8 to Win Global Design Competition

changing course design competition

Designs Offer Solutions to Rebuild Mississippi River Delta, Protect Communities and Industries

The international Changing Course design competition announced its winning teams and the teams’ 100-year visions for restoring and sustaining the Mississippi River Delta for the people and industries that call it home. The three winning teams—comprised of some of the world’s top engineers, coastal scientists, planners, and designers—are Baird and Associates, Studio Misi-Ziibi, and Moffatt and Nichol, who teamed up with West 8 and the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio to create the winning proposal, “The Giving Delta.”

“We challenged the world’s top experts to find the most innovative ways to make sure that New Orleans and southeast Louisiana aren’t held hostage to worsening storms, rising seas, and a disappearing delta,” said Steve Cochran, associate vice president of Ecosystems at Environmental Defense Fund and a member of the Changing Course leadership team. “We hope the winning ideas will help citizens, communities, industries, and governments engage in real conversations about what it’s going to take to make this important region more resilient and prosperous.”

The winning teams’ designs are based on a 100-year planning horizon and focus on maximizing the Mississippi River’s natural and sustainable land-building potential while taking into the account of needs of navigation and other industries, flood control and sustainable community development—a challenge raised by the state of Louisiana’s master planning process.

“Because of the quality of the work, the state has committed to bringing the technical work from Changing Course into its process of analyzing the management scheme for the Lower Mississippi River,” said Kyle Graham, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority executive director.  “We look forward to working with the teams.”

Over the last century, nearly 1,900 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands have vanished. Every hour, a football-field-sized swath of land drowns in the Gulf’s advancing tides. At this rate, by 2100, Louisiana’s protective coast will be gone. The solutions proposed by the winning teams focus primarily on the Mississippi River south of New Orleans.

While each of the winning teams offered a different vision, all three identified three major themes as critical to sustaining the Mississippi River Delta today and into the future:

  • a clear focus on a sustainable delta through using the natural forces of the Mississippi River;
  • maximum integration of navigation, flood control, and restoration, including consideration of ideas for a better and more sustainable navigation channel;
  • consideration of a gradual transition of industry and communities into more protected and resilient communities, over time.

“As sea levels rise, communities around the world, particularly in major river deltas, need novel approaches to find sustainable solutions. Changing Course is a great example of how world-class expertise can be combined with local wisdom to produce ideas that work,” said Dr. Don Boesch, Changing Course leadership team member, professor of marine science, and president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Winning entry from Moffat & Nichol, West8, and LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio

Moffat and Nichol, one of the premiere coastal engineering firms in the world, 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. Their highly focused team members include 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, and the LSU 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.


Read more about the teams and see their designs at

Changing Course is a design competition aimed at developing innovative solutions to rebuild and protect the Louisiana coast. It is led by a leadership team of prominent leaders in Louisiana’s civic, industry, and academic communities along with national experts in coastal resiliency, engineering, and design. It is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, blue moon fund, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Shell, the Kresge Foundation, the Selley Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. Leadership support is provided by the Van Alen Institute, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the power of design to transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives, and the Environmental Defense Fund, which has 30 years of experience in the Mississippi River Delta region, with technical support from BuroHappold Engineering, a worldwide consulting and engineering firm.