H3 Studio is pleased to announce the design team – Studio Misi-Ziibi - lead by John Hoal, Ph.D, Founding Principal of H3 Studio, and Chair of Urban Design and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis has been declared as one of the three winners of the International Design Competition Changing Course.

The competition, “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. 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. 

Acknowledging that the Mississippi River Delta will continue to evolve over the next 100 years, the design team proposed that new MISI-ZIIBI LIVING DELTA for the 22nd centurya healthy, productive and resilient delta - relies on a synergistic and leveraged combination of delta building, the working delta, and delta living. This new Delta will be more sustainable and smaller in area, but have faster vertical accretion rates than earlier deltas, which keeps pace with current and future rates of global sea-level rise. The vision for the new Delta will be achieved through ECO 3D [dredge + dump, dredge-siphon, divert]  – in which the bounded Mississippi River will be fragmented into a network of constructed distributaries, using sediment diversions, in order to feed the wetlands with the necessary sediment for delta building. Although the diversions will be constructed and managed, the delta formation in the receiving basins is self-organizing and naturally formed.

In addition, the design team proposed to shorten the Mississippi River and construct a new navigation entry point further upstream with a new distributary node near West Pointe à la Hache. The realigned and shortened river provides more efficient methods to use the sediment loads and increase safety and navigation reliability, and lower flood levels along the Mississippi River in this area. Ensuring that the navigation and marine economy continues to expand the river will be dredged to 50ft deep, the existing ports and Port Fourchon expanded, existing navigable inland water bodies maintained, and a new port constructed in the new Bird’s Foot.

Finally, we proposed to retreat from the southern rim of the existing Delta in order to assure long-term sustainability of the regions with the highest population density and economic productivity. The concept of DELTA LIVING is about embracing the ideology and cultural aspect of communities by enabling a means to continue to live with the Delta in new ways, and accommodating a regional growth strategy of safe, strong, and distinctive communities. Overall, the MISI-ZIIBI LIVING DELTA uses constructed and natural ecological landscapes to provide for both the safe and sustainable inhabitance of the Delta region while encouraging a vibrant, growing and sustainable economy that thrives in light of unpredictable and long-term changes.

The international team was led by H3 Studio's John Hoal as project director and Matt Bernstine as project manager together with a multi-disciplinary team composed of designers, engineers, scientists and planners:


H3 Studio (team lead)

John Hoal, PhD; Matt Bernstine; Courtney Cushard; Tim Breihan; Laura Lyon; Laura Broun; Colleen Xi Oui; Junru Zheng; and Jovanni Carter-Davis



Mike Patorno; Michael J. Donahue, PhD; Joseph E. Berlin; Tom Hunter;

Nick DeGennaro, PhD; Mark Gonski; and Jimmy Rayburn



Fredrik Huthoff, PhD; Hermjan Barneveld; Tony Minns, PhD;

Carolien Wegman; and Geerten Horn


Educational Institutions

Washington University in St. Louis: Derek Hoeferlin, Assistant Professor

Interns; Cristina Ckiw; Lex Agnew; Taylor Halamka; and Andy Lee

Tulane University: Alexander Kolker, PhD; and Mark Davis

Louisiana State University: Sam Bentley, PhD; and Andy Nyman, PhD

University of New Orleans: Alex McCorquodale, PhD

University of Lousiana at Lafayette: Jenneke Visser, PhD

Delft University of Technology: Hans Meyer; Bas Jonkman, PhD; and Huib De Vriend, PhD


Independent Partners

Robbert de Koning Landschapsarchitect

Bureau Drift Ecological Planning

Coastal Environments, Inc.

AEP River Operations

Dynamic Solutions

HR&A Advisors



Read the Official Announcement here.

Click below to see a video of the mission of the Changing Course Competition: