Sean Burkholder is the Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Both his time spent growing up in Ohio and his two decades of teaching and working in and around the Great Lakes Basin have strongly informed his relationship to the region. Much of his practice and research involves working closely with communities and organizations across the basin on issues of sediment management and coastal adaptation as part of the Healthy Port Futures project.
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.