Great Lakes Design Labs // Designing with Change

Research Presentation by Karen Lutsky, Ozayr Saloojee, Jamie Vanucchi

As part of the Beyond Borders track at the Great Lakes Adaptation Forum 2018 Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Great Lakes Design Labs: Designing with Change highlighted selected design-by-research and research-by-design projects and initiatives currently being conducted along waterfronts (both rivers and lakes) in Canada and the United States. The panel brought together landscape architecture and architecture  faculty from three institutions (the University of Minnesota, Cornell University, and Carleton University) and their design-studio teaching, seminars , coursework, outreach and research on the Great Lakes. The presentation foregrounded how adaptive design strategies can help Great Lakes communities better approach and work with the complex and rapidly changing landscape of the basin.  These strategies will not be grounded in fear of change or an over-reliance on failure-prone, large infrastructure, but rather emphasized inventive approaches that are highly contextualized, generative, promote an ‘economy of means’, the idea of ‘testing’ landscapes, and importantly – of asking critical, creative and probing questions. Additionally, the presented discussed the development of the emerging Great Lakes Design Lab as a network of designers and researchers asking land-based questions through the design and implementation of a series of affiliated partner laboratories as design/research and outreach institutions. These laboratories – of which the Carleton Urban Research Lab is one – are seen as venues to help find more adaptable land management strategies throughout the Great Lakes while exposing and building operational agency in local communities.