Multifunctional Performance of Coastal Structures Based on South Florida Coastal Environs

Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, Esber Andiroglu, Joel Lamere, James Sobczak, Prannoy Suraneni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal communities around the globe are facing the related challenges of sea-level rise, more frequent and extreme storm events, and deteriorating coastal water quality. A multidisciplinary research team with expertise in architecture, ecology, economics, engineering, design, and public art surveyed existing coastal structures to elucidate criteria for a multifunctional performance assessment of these structures in South Florida. Eight coastal survey sites were evaluated to understand their function. Two key variables that affect the coastal structure function are the spatial extent of the structure and the age of the structure. The functional performance was ranked as poor, fair, or good based on (1) ecological functionality (rugosity, minimization of pollution, and coastal plant diversity), (2) engineering functionality (storm, wave, and flood resilience and affordability), and (3) stakeholder functionality (waterfront access, views, and wildlife views). These aspects of functionality were equally weighted to evaluate the impact of each component on the coastal environs. Generally, coastal structure design considers primarily engineering functionality, and these designs consequently have poor ecological functionality. Multifunctionality improved with the horizontal extent of the structure, the occurrence of coastal plants in a buffer zone, and increased public access and use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-669
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • climate change
  • hurricane impacts
  • mangrove restoration
  • sea-level rise
  • Seawalls
  • water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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