New Manhattan

Nick Randle


When imagining a future city what do you see? Flying cars? Gleaming skyscrapers? Holographic advertisements? What about abandoned buildings submerged deep underwater, lost to the sea?

Climate change is a topic discussed so frequently that we have become almost immune to the idea itself. It is understood that a new increase in average global temperature will lead to a rise in sea-level, reshaping much of the earth’s coastline. But what does that mean for the 40% of the global population living in coastal areas? For millions around the world, their homes, workplaces, and communities will eventually be consumed by the world’s vast oceans. Major metropolises erased from the Earth’s surface forever. When envisioning the future we find ourselves picturing an idyllic society free of worry, equipped with highly advanced technology. However, we fail to realize the repercussions of our current effects on the planet and how this alters our future.

Through this project, I will explore the creation of a future, fictional city that is the result of global sea-level rise. All of its inhabitants blissfully ignore the effects of climate change. Their view of a utopian paradise is only a facade to the disastrous world they have created. This is an “idyllic” future we hope to never see.

Thesis Advisors

Earl Gee: SJSU Graphic Design Professor

Connie Hwang: SJSU Graphic Design Professor

Adrienne Frisbee: Environmental Education Specialist at Watsonville Wetlands

Research Questions

1. What major actions of our current society impact sea level rise?

2. What does a future society, born from climate change, look like?

3. How can this future "utopia" parallel our present world while still having its abnormal society?


The final outcome for my thesis project is an experiential website through which the user can navigate and explore New Manhattan. Climate change is one of the most important risks posed to humanity. Its effects will have an impact on everyone’s lives. If society does not change their habits soon, it will be too late to save the planet. Given the importance of this issue I wanted to explore if the topic could be covered in a vastly different way that could be more effective in engagement and action. While time will tell whether or not people create meaningful change from my website, I am confident that my website is able to convey the severity of the issue but in an approachable way. My project can serve as a test to see if climate change can be successfully infused with humor to create a much more engaging experience.