Great Lakes Design Labs

At well over 200,000 square miles, the size of the Great Lakes Basin is immense.  While certain indicators at the basin scale allow for recognition of particular landscape patterns and processes that may help us understand ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ certain conditions are occurring - the scale of the entire basin is rarely well utilized when approaching the design of specific sites, testing strategies, and making local land-based decisions.  

The Great Lakes Design Labs (GLDL) are an effort to explore such physical and social potentials of the ‘local/regional’ landscape and work to simultaneously establish a physical and social culture of adaptation within the Basin through the marriage of research landscapes and design labs. Recognizing the learning and engagement opportunities in the observation and documentation of change that is an inherent quality of a research landscape, the GLDL will work to elevate the cultural potential of these landscapes and questions through thoughtful siting, designs processes, and management strategies for Basin-based sites.

The GLDL is:

+ A regional network of designers, researchers, and students working and supporting each other by-way of critical engagement and collaboration throughout the Great Lakes Basin

 

+ A series of ‘Land Labs’ which test land-based design and management strategies that do following:

  • Recognize and engage the dynamic qualities of the Great Lakes Basin - i.e. focus on working WITH change 

  • Respond to critical environmental, social, and economic issues in the region

  • Are open-ended, adaptable, and embrace the 'unknown'

  • Engage local communities in the active and less-predictable processes of observation, documentation, design, and management


+  An effort to develop a ‘culture of adaptation’  through land-based questioning as a social and physical resilient landscape strategy

GLDL Team + Partners

UMN GLDL Director + Founder:     Karen Lutsky __ klutsky@umn.edu

Karen is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota.Before joining the faculty at UMN, Karen held teaching and researching positions in landscape architecture at number of institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Penn State University, the Ohio State University, and the University at Buffalo-SUNY. With an undergraduate degree in 'Environment and Society' from Brandeis University and a masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, Karen has spent most all of her academic and professional career researching and working with the relationship between people and their physical environment.   

 

Her design research focuses on how landscape architects and designers might better design 'with' the changing landscapes of the Great Lakes Basin. Karen is interested in the potential of this highly dynamic land to better address larger environmental issues and establish healthier relationships between people and landscapes and water of the Great Lakes. Having grown up along the south-western shore of Lake Michigan and worked throughout the region, Karen is proud to note that she has lived in 6 of the 8 U.S. states that border the Great Lakes.

You can find out more about Karen's teaching and research here and access some of Karen's publications at the following websites:

Curious Methods - Places Online Journal

Emergent Shorelines of the Great Lakes - Places Online Journal

Big Old Tree, New Big Easy - Scenario Journal

UMN GLDL Partner:     Mae Davenport, PhD.  + the UMN Center for Changing Landscapes

Mae Davenport is a professor in the Department of Forest Resources and director of the Center for Changing Landscapes. Her research interests are focused on the human dimensions of natural resource management, specifically sustainable land use planning; community-based ecosystem management; recreation planning; and human beliefs, attitudes and behaviors associated with landscape change.  You can find out more about Mae and her research here.

The Center for Changing Landscapes offers social science research services, conservation program evaluation, community assessment training, and research design assistance to natural resource agencies, nonprofit organizations, and communities in Minnesota and beyond. The Center’s researchers specialize in the use of interdisciplinary community-based research methods, innovative multi-methods evaluation, and inclusive project planning. A primary goal of the center is to empower communities and natural resource managers in inclusive and visionary planning and problem-solving for sustainable, livable, and equitable futures. You can find out more about the Center for Changing Landscapes and all the great work they do here.

GLDL  Partner:     Ozayr Saloojee, PhD., Carleton University + the Carleton Urban Research

Lab

Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Professor Saloojee previously taught at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, where he was an Associate Professor of Architecture with affiliate faculty status in Landscape Architecture and Religious Studies. Before moving to Minnesota in 2005, he studied, taught and practiced architecture here in Ottawa, receiving his B.Arch and Post-professional M.Arch (Theory and Culture) from Carleton University. He completed his PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture (University College London) under the supervision of Dr. J. K. Birksted and Dr. Iain Borden. 

Professor Saloojee teaches courses in architectural design, urbanism and history that explore themes and questions of infrastructure, post-coloniality, and alternative urban and landscape futures. Recent studios have focused on the desert landscapes of the Negev/Naqab, on future scenarios for the Great Lakes, on water and equity in Istanbul, and an upcoming studio on labour and the mining landscapes of Johannesburg.  His research and academic interests include a focus on politically contested terrains, ideas of resiliency and adaptation in infrastructure and landscapes through the crossings of architecture, landscape and cultural geographies. He is currently working on a project called “The Incommensurate Archive,” an outcome of his doctoral work that explored the issue of the archival gap in South Africa’s colonial past and post-colonial present.  You can find out more about Ozayr's teaching and research here.  Ozayr is also co-director and co-founder of the Carleton Urban Research Lab, you can find out more about the C-URL here.

GLDL  Partner:    Jamie Vanucchi, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Cornell University

Jamie is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Cornell University, formerly at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.  Jamie’s work seeks to merge science and design. She studies and designs novel ecologies and land-based infrastructures that perform work for cities with minimal or alternative inputs, and is especially interested in how novelty and uncertainty necessitate a shift toward experimental and adaptive design processes. She is currently working on a federal capacity funded project titled Increasing the Success of Community Adaptation to Climate Change: Assessing FEMA Buyouts of Flood-prone Housing. This project looks at how municipalities understand and manage flood risk, and uses mapping and drawing to explore and represent multi-faceted risk, vulnerability, and uncertainty in the floodplain. She has taught design studios and seminars focusing on the Great Lakes Basin, and is currently a member of CornellDesign, finalists in the Reimagining the Canals design competition sponsored by the Governor’s office, along with H + N + S (Netherlands). The team’s competition submission, titled Urban Archipelago, explores hybridizing landscapes with water in the landscape that extends from the Finger Lakes to Lake Ontario. You can learn more about Jamie's research and teaching here.

GLDL  Research Assistant : Bria Fast, Landscape Architecture Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

Bria is a graduate student in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Minnesota. Bria was raised in Minnesota and has spent extensive time traveling in and around the Great Lakes. Until her move back to Minneapolis in 2016, she was working for a variety of organizations in Nepal and the United Kingdom which were focused on providing shelter and settlement to those affected by natural disasters. Because of this, her research and academic interests are largely connected to themes of home, change, infrastructure and power. Some of these interests include invasive species and rhetoric, speculative development, alternative urbanism, extraction economies, and arctic design. Bria is interested in studying the various futures of the Great Lakes, and has a special fondness for the North Shore of Lake Superior in the winter. 

GLDL  Research Assistant : Zoe Weingarten, Landscape Architecture Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

Zoe is a graduate student in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Minnesota. Zoe  grew up in Northern Michigan where she spent much of her youth exploring the shoreline, trails, and communities of Lake Superior. Zoe earned a bachelors of arts in education and anthropology from Ripon College and went on to serve a year through AmeriCorps working with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in Northfield, MN. She has worked as a teacher, facilitator, and freelance designer. Most recently Zoe worked for two years in Waldorf Education in Minneapolis exploring environmental curriculum and arts-based programs. Her interests relate to the evolution of human and natural geographies, post-industrial communities, and storytelling through design. 

GLDL

 designing with change

 testing landscapes

nurturing a culture of adaptability