On August 29th, Van Alen Institute and Environmental Defense Fund will host a roundtable discussion at the Venice Biennale US Pavilion to explore the environmental challenges faced by coastal cities throughout the world.
Titled Project Eco-Delta, the initiative is part of VAI and EDF’s ongoing collaboration in developing design strategies for the landscape surrounding New Orleans—the Mississippi River’s coastal delta. The forum will feature leading experts from the fields of design, engineering, public policy and environmental science, who will discuss innovative ways with which we can address the needs of fragile deltas and the communities living in them.
Five years—to the day—of Hurricane Katrina, the roundtable discussion will be an opportunity to reconsider some of the fundamental problems of coastal cities. How can we design economic infrastructure that works with the forces of nature to revitalize coastal environments? Can environmental challenges be resolved within contexts of conflicting economic, social, political, and cultural interests? Can coastal cities be re-thought, and re-engineered, as sustainable environmental systems?
Confirmed Speakers (Bios below):
Stephane Asselin (AECOM), Maria Teresa Brotto (Consorzio Venezia Nuova), Stephen Cassell (ARO), Piet Dircke (ARCADIS), Paul Harrison (Environmental Defense Fund), Padraic Kelly (Buro Happold), Olympia Kazi (Van Alen Institute), Dirk Sijmons (H+N+S Landscape Architects), Bregje van Wesenbeeck (Deltares), David Waggonner (Waggonner & Ball Architects), David Wilkes (Ove Arup).
About Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture
Van Alen Institute promotes innovative thinking about the role of architecture and design in civic life. Among VAI’s activities are design competitions, lectures and symposia, exhibitions, publications, research and advocacy. VAI’s programs engage a broad constituency of people in New York City, the nation, and around the world who participate in shaping the designed environment, from architecture students to emerging and established professionals to the interested public.www.vanalen.org.
About Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund is a leading U.S. nonprofit organization representing more than 700,000 members. Since 1967, EDF has linked science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems. Guided by science, EDF evaluates environmental problems and works to create and advocate solutions that win lasting political, economic and social support because they are nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair.www.edf.org.
About the US Pavilion
Workshopping: An American Model of Architectural Practice is the official US representation at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition has been organized by the High Museum of Art and 306090, and is presented by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State. Curated by Michael Rooks and Jonathan D. Solomon. www.workshopping.us.
Confirmed Speakers Bios
Stephane Asselin is a Senior Vice President, Environment at AECOM Asia and Global Director of AECOM’s Environmental and Ecological Planning practice worldwide. His technical expertise lies in water resources and coastal engineering. Notable projects led by his team include Shenzhen’s Coastal Park Landscape Masterplan, the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park Wetland Treatment System, and the Beijing Water Authority Stormwater Management System.
Maria Teresa Brotto is a hydraulic engineer and Head of the Department of Design for Consorzio Venezia Nuova, the Ministry of Infrastructure’s concessionary for the physical and environmental safeguarding of the Venice lagoon. Brotto also coordinated the environmental impact studies for this project which involves the construction of a series of tidal flow regulation barriers at the lagoon inlets.
Stephen Cassell is principal and co-founder, with Adam Yarinsky, of Architecture Research Office (ARO), a New York-based firm practicing modern architecture and visionary urbanism. ARO was a member of the 2007-2009 AIA Latrobe Prize project team that reconceived the New York-New Jersey harbor in response to rising sea levels. A design for Lower Manhattan by ARO is part of the exhibition of Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, now on display at The Museum of Modern Art.
Piet Dircke is the Director of the Global Knowledge Network and Water Management at ARCADIS and a professor in Urban Water Management at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. He is responsible for the transfer of Dutch flood protection expertise to New Orleans and to the US Army Corps of Engineers. In Rotterdam he is one of the leading forces behind the city’s ambitious climate change adaptation program, and is President of the Dutch Flood Control 2015 Program, a Dutch public-private initiative to develop smart flood control systems.
Paul Harrison is the Senior Director for the Mississippi River at Environmental Defense Fund. Paul Harrison leads Environmental Defense Fund’s campaign to secure restoration of the natural functioning of the Mississippi River Delta and wetlands complex, where 2,000 of 7,000 square miles of land have been lost in less than a century as flood control, navigation, and energy extraction activities turned off the natural land-building mechanisms of the river.
Olympia Kazi, a critic and curator of architecture, and is the Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute in New York. A graduate of the Architecture Department at the University of Florence, Kazi has served as Junior Curator at the Milan Triennale from 2002-2004, Fellow of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 2006-2007, and director of the Institute for Urban Design, New York from 2007-2009.
Padraic Kelly is the Managing Director of Happold Consulting limited in London. Kelly is a Chartered Engineer of more than 30 years experience covering Europe, US, Middle East and Asia. He has worked on projects ranging in scale from city block to a regional scale, combining both technical expertise as well as providing social, economic and financial perspectives. He has worked extensively over the last 20 years on coastal cities both of natural and man-made constructions. One of his current projects is the Detroit Strategic Framework Plan.
Dirk Sijmons is a founding partner of H+N+S Landscape Architects, professor of Environmental Design at the Technical University of Delft, and senior consultant and former State Advisor on Landscape in the Netherlands. Dirk Sijmons is widely recognized for his contribution to landscape theory and Dutch culture, as well as his role in the national landscape debate. Sijmons initiated and is the Chair of the Quality team for the Room-for-the-River project, a national initiative of 30 separate projects protecting the Netherlands Delta.
David Waggonner is the president of Waggonner & Ball Architects, as well as the initiator of Dutch Dialogues. Through this intercultural, interdisciplinary and intergenerational exchange focused on water-based urban design, a new vision of New Orleans as a delta city living with rather than against water has been declared as a way to address long-term issues of urban character and form.
Bregje van Wesenbeeck is a researcher and consultant in the Unit for Coastal and Marine Systems at Deltares in the Netherlands. Dr. Wesenbeeck is an expert on the implementation of ecological solutions for water management issues. These projects use ecosystem services in a way that is complementary to traditional engineering designs, with the aim to develop adaptive, climate proof, and multifunctional designs for coastal defense.
David J Wilkes is an Associate Director at Arup and Vice-President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. David Wilkes managed the Thames Barrier and flood defense efforts for London from 1994 to 2000, and is currently the director for a range of projects across the Humber Estuary, where the tidal defenses protect 400,000 people, the largest port complex in the UK, and endangered agricultural land.