Rebuilding Devastated Landscapes: Sustainable Landscape Development in the 21st Century

Rebuilding Devastated Landscapes concerns the conception, production and management of sustainable landscapes from both an ecological and design perspective. The content of this applied lecture and workshop course takes a fresh look at the repair and reconstruction of disturbed and derelict urban environments within the realities of current environmental conditions, models, regulations and design practices. The current application of ecological principles to devastated landscapes will be challenged and discussed including the analysis of sites and disturbance ecology and the potential models for reconstructing sustainable vegetation communities. Seminar presentations and class discussions with the instructors and invited guests will focus on the interdependence between science, technology and design in addressing degraded landscapes that threaten human, community, and environmental health. An emphasis of this class will be on the physical and environmental realities, challenges and opportunities of post-industrial land including brownfields, landfills, superfund sites and their ecological systems. Emphasis will be placed in the early part of the course on the historical, regulatory, ecological, public health, technological aspects of devastated landscapes. The pedagogy of the course will be supported by class field visits to a variety of disturbed landscapes in the surrounding Greater Boston Area. The locations include a section of rail yard and industrial land owned by Harvard University in Allston, Boston, vacant urban lots and inner city brownfields in Somerville, a municipal landfill near a national historic resource in Concord, and a site with construction fill at the Arnold Arboretum. Local experts, stakeholders and officials will accompany the class and instructors on site. The seminar is intended to act as a broad introduction and overview to the subject of the adaptive reuse of post-industrial landscapes. It will also act as a bridge for students between earlier basic core courses in planning, design and environmental studies and more advanced individual research topics, including independent study, thesis preparation and option design studios. PREREQUISITES: Enrollment is open to all students in graduate standing as well as undergraduates from Harvard College. In the last two years similar classes taught by the instructors have included landscape architects, architects, urban planners, urban designers, environmental scientists, real estate developers, ecologists, resource managers, federal regulatory officers and public policy majors. Enrollment has come from students from the Harvard Design School, MIT, and Harvard College as well as students undertaking advanced programs such as MDes, DDes and the Loeb Fellowship Program. The instructors welcome interest in this seminar from students with a wide range of academic and/or professional backgrounds. There is no limit to the enrollment number for this class.