Karen Lutsky is assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota and director of the Great Lakes Design Labs. Her design research and teaching focuses on how landscape architects and designers might better design “with” changing landscapes throughout the Great Lakes Basin, whether it be the quick littoral zone or slow-growing trees. From growing up in Milwaukee to teaching in Minnesota, Lutsky has had the privilege of living in most of the Great Lakes states and calling these waters home.
Threatened by issues of environmental health, climate change, population growth, and industrial demands, the coastal zone of the Great Lakes reflects an increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the people of the basin and the resources that support them. Perhaps no place is the physical manifestation of this struggle more evident than in the basin’s shallow bays. While many regional and local responses to these issues focus on methods of control, Five Bay Landscapes argues that responses should begin with critical, experiential, and pluralistic understandings of place. Through a series of five narratives, each located on a bay within the Great Lakes, the authors share their practice of curious site explorations. These explorations, both written and visual, consider the nuances and systems of these shorelines along with the lessons these findings might offer for future design and planning interventions. Using the Great Lakes as a context, Five Bay Landscapes illuminates a dynamic and robust landscape system and establishes a series of methods for understanding, analyzing, and intervening within the changing landscape.