Recovery of the city of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and recovery of Christchurch, New Zealand from the earthquakes of 2011 are used as case studies for examining the changing nature of engineering design. While in both cases the loss of life was considerable, each event was followed by several years of severe economic disruption. The examination highlights that the high indirect costs of civil engineering failure along with the unpredictable nature of extreme events increasingly require adaptive solutions. Design could change from a process that happens once over a 50- year lifespan to a process where re-design is considered every 10 years, each time evaluating new information. Design as an adaptive process will require revisiting issues such as design contracts, the separation of design from construction and operation, and education of engineering design.
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