Cedar Rapids flood reconstruction

  • Unprecedented flooding caused significant damage in 2008.
  • Reconstruction provided an opportunity for sustainable, disaster-resistant masterplanning.

In 2008, Cedar Rapids, Iowa was badly damaged by heavy rains that caused the Cedar River to overflow beyond its 500-year flood plain. More than 7,000 homes, hundreds of businesses, community facilities and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. Arup worked with Sasaki Associates to develop a series of plans to respond to the disaster.

Disaster response

The team, with significant community input, created plans including a framework for reinvestment and revitalisation, a series of sustainable neighbourhood plans for each of the affected areas, and an overall sustainability plan for the city.

The plans have an objective of ensuring that Cedar Rapids is rebuilt sustainably, successfully reintegrates the disaster affected area, and has long-term resilience to flooding and other risks.

Sustainability assessment

Arup also developed a sustainability assessment matrix for the design team to provide preliminary guidance on integrating practical, actionable strategies into the planning process. The matrix was produced as a handheld booklet for the design team, allowing them to quickly consider and evaluate sustainability strategies as they design.

A baseline of the City’s sustainability performance pre-flood, using 19 indicators, will help guide city-wide integration of sustainability goals and target investment and effort.


Design 2010 - Arup's Design Yearbook
  • Cedar Rapids flood damage.Open gallery

    More than 7,000 homes and hundreds of businesses were damaged in unprecedented flooding.