Third Coast Project

This seminar applies research to analyze and speculate on regional territories, specifically the Great Lakes Basin. With over 20% of the world\’s total surface fresh water, it is difficult to overstate the status and future of the Great Lakes as both a contested and opportunistic site for urbanism. The system is comprised of Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior as well as the St Lawrence Seaway. These form a single, interconnected body of freshwater whose watershed facilitates access for more than 25 Cities, 8 States, and 2 Countries. The lakes were responsible for the industrialization of the region and have catalyzed the formation of the modern North American city with such examples as: Buffalo, NY; Detroit, MI; Toronto, ON; Toledo, OH; Erie, PA; Chicago, IL; Thunder Bay, ON.

The seminar students will be working towards an in-progress publication titled The Third Coast Atlas. (Eds. Clare Lyster, Charles Waldheim and Mason White). Third Coast Atlas is a compendium of theoretical essays, maps, scholarly research and design provocations that facilitate a contemporary survey of the urbanization of the Great Lakes Basin, known as the Third Coast.

Students will conduct research on topics that include planning histories of Great Lakes municipalities; a survey of coastal infrastructures and ecologies; the documentation of material economies in the region, among others. The seminar will utilize spatial research models, analytical methods, and explore representational techniques such as factual and projective diagrams, dynamic timelines, original maps, photo-essays, among others. Student work is organized through a series of exercises, directed by weekly desk-crits and pin ups augmented by presentations and readings that help position the research within contemporary discourse in the fields of planning and landscape architecture.