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HYDROCity: A Symposium on Hydrology and Urbanism

Fri, Nov 6/09 – 12:30pm

Alphabet City Festival 2009: WATER

Toronto, 31 October – 6 November, Toronto



November 6, 2009

Room 103, University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design


HYDROCITY will be devoted to studying the relationship between urban forms and the hydrological systems in which they are embedded. If the twentieth century has been marked by our global thirst for fuel, the twenty-first century, will be defined by our collectively growing need for water. Impending water shortages are changing patterns of urbanization and requiring increasingly elaborate infrastructures by which to source, collect, divert and transport water to the urban centres that hold a growing majority of the world’s population. These population centres will in turn need to be redesigned and retrofitted to conserve, collect, repurify, and recirculate increasingly precious water resources while at the same time rethinking and rebuilding their cities’ relationships with the complex watersheds on which they are built and upon which they depend. The resulting liquid infrastructure is poised to redefine our notion of natural and artificial landscapes, as disparate ecological environments are networked and conflated. What forms of urbanism and landscape systems will emerge, and what design potentials exist, in this expanding liquid infrastructure?

The results generated by HYDROCITY will include equipping a new generation of architects, urban planners, and policy makers with the conceptual frameworks and design tools they need to advance water-friendly design, connecting a broad public with new ideas and policy options, and providing policy makers with additional public awareness and innovative ideas with which to advance sound water policies.


ALAN BERGER is Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he teaches courses in the department of urban studies and planning. He founded and directs P-REX, The Project for Reclamation Excellence at MIT, a trans-disciplinary research effort focusing on the design and reuse of waste landscapes worldwide.


AZIZA CHAOUNI is Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. She is the principal of Bureau E.A.S.T, a design firm with offices in Los Angeles, Toronto and Fez, Morocco. Bureau E.A.S.T’s Fez river rehabilitation project won the Holcim 2008 Africa-Midle East Gold Award in Sustainable Construction, The Holcim 2009 World Gold Award in Sustainable Construction, the 2009 EDRA best places award, and was a finalist in the Index Design Award 2009. Bureau E.A.S.T was the recipient of the NY architecture League Young Architect award. Chaouni has been leading with Prof. Liat Margolis a collaborative research on innovative technologies in arid climates: the Out of Water project.


JANDIRK HOEKSTRA is Director at H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The practice works for a wide range of clients, including organizations concerned with area development in both official and private domains: national, provincial and municipal government bodies, water boards, large nature conservancy organizations, property development companies, special interest groups and private clients.


NINA-MARIE LISTER is Associate Professor of Urban + Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. A Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) with a background in resource management, field ecology and environmental science, Lister is the founding principal of plandform, a creative studio practice exploring the relationship between landscape, ecology, and urbanism. Her research, teaching and practice focus on the confluence of landscape infrastructure and ecological processes within contemporary metropolitan regions.


MICHAEL HOUGH was the founding partner of Michael Hough Associates in 1963 and has continued with the firm as it has evolved today into the trademark of environmental planning and design office “Envision - The Hough Group”. He was a founder of the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Toronto as well as the Environmental Landscape Design program at York University. He has been teaching at York University as a professor since 1973 and has also taught at Harvard, University of Manitoba and University of Rhode Island.

ROBERT LEVIT is Director of the Master of Urban Design program at the Daniels Faculty. He is a partner in the design firm Khoury Levit Fong and has won several international architecture and urban design competitions. He is currently designing the research district for a new satellite city in Tai Yuan, Shanxi province, China. His work links the urban and architectural scales.


LIAT MARGOLIS is Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. She is practicing landscape architect, and a cofounder/director of materials research at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Previously, as director of material research at Material ConneXion NY, Margolis was instrumental in the development of a cross-disciplinary material database, and a research concerning the environmental impacts of industrial manufacturing. Margolis is the co-author of the book Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies for Landscape Architecture [Birkhauser 2007].


KOEN OLTHUIS is the founder of the Dutch architectural firm Waterstudio.NL, which specializes in floating structures to counter concerns of floods. In 2007 he was chosen as #122 on Time Magazine’s list of most influential people in the world. His vision is to change cities worldwide using water as building ground. The first city in which this work is under development is The Westland, near The Hague in Holland.


ANDREW PAYNE completed his doctorate in English at the University of Toronto in 2003. In addition to his work on literature, Dr. Payne has published work on the contemporary visual arts in periodicals such as Parachute and C and on architecture in publications such as Praxis and Pamphlet Architecture. He has also been an editor for a variety of cultural publications, including Impulse, Borderlines, and Public. Since completing his dissertation, Payne is Assistant Professor of History and Theory and coordinator of the Writing Program at the Daniels Faculty.


KATHERINE RINNE originated, developed, and currently directs “Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome,” an ongoing web-based research project published by the University of Virginia. Currently an Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts, Katherine has also taught architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design at the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, Harvard University, and UC Berkeley.


CATHERINE SEAVITT AIA LEED is principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio, an interdisciplinary practice premised on the collaborative integration of architecture, landscape, and public infrastructure.  Current research includes collaboration on the book On the Water: Palisade Bay, presenting the findings of the 2007 FAIA Latrobe Prize research grant, an infrastructural and ecological study and proposal for the Upper Bay of New York and New Jersey given the effects of sea level rise.


KELLY SHANNON is Professor of Landscape Urbanism at KU Leuven (Belgium). Most of her work has focused on the evolving relation of landscape, infrastructure and urbanization in South and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India).


is principal of Waggonner & Ball Architects, a New Orleans-based architecture and planning firm. With the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the American Planning Association, Mr. Waggonner has continued the effort to define more intelligently the planning and redevelopment problem that the New Orleans region presents.


is Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. He is founding partner of Lateral Office, an award-winning Toronto-based design practice, and InfraNet Lab, a research laboratory examining the relationship between urbanism and resources that maintains the annual journal [bracket]. Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab was recently selected to author the forthcoming issue of Pamphlet Architecture #30 with a proposal titled “Coupling: Strategies of Infrastructural Opportunism” (Princeton Arch Press 2010). Mason was the 2009 recipient of the Arthur Wheelwright Fellowship from Harvard GSD. InfraNet Lab initiated HYDROCity in collaboration with Alphabet City.


JANE WOLFF is Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the Daniels Faculty. Before Jane Wolff joined Daniels, she was an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design at Washington University in Saint Louis. She has taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts and at Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture, and in 2006 she was the Beatrix Farrand Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley. Wolff is the author of Delta Primer: a field guide to the California Delta, a book and deck of cards designed to educate diverse audiences about the contested landscape of the California Delta.


ROBERT WRIGHT is Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty, and principal of iz, an open and exploratory design practice. Wright is also the Associate Director of the Centre for Landscape Research, an associate of the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto and is cross-appointed with the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. He is a full member of the OALA and a Fellow of the CSLA. Wright was also the Director of the Master of Landscape Architecture program, Associate Dean,  and Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto.


HYDROCity Event Schedule


November 6, 2009

Room 103, University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, 230 College Street


9:00 – Welcome, Opening – Dean Richard Sommer (Daniels), Mason White (Daniels)


AM Session: Urban Ecologies


9:20 – Katherine Rinne (California College of the Arts)

9:50 – Michael Hough (York)

10:20 – Nina-Marie Lister (Ryerson)

10:50 – Alan Berger (MIT)

11:20 – Jandirk Hoekstra (H+N+S)

11:50 – respondent: Robert Levit (Daniels)

12:00 – PANEL ONE – Jane Wolff (Daniels), moderator

12:35 – Open-audience discussion


1:00 – 2:00 LUNCH


PM Session:  Urban Infrastructures


2:15 – Aziza Chaouni / Liat Margolis (Daniels)

2:45 – David Waggonner (WB Architects)

3:15 – Kelly Shannon (KU Leuven)

3:45 – Catherine Seavitt (Seavitt Studio)

4:15 – Koen Olthuis (Waterstudio)

4:45 – respondent: Andy Payne (Daniels)

4:55 – PANEL TWO – Robert Wright (Daniels), moderator 5:30 – Open-audience discussion


6:00 – Closing – Jane Wolff, Mason White

HYDROCITY and the WATER Festival are made possible possible through the support of: The Mondriaan Foundation; The MIT Press; Canada Council for the Arts; Ontario Arts Council; The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Cities Centre, University of Toronto; RBC Blue Water Project; Toronto Arts Council; CLARITY;  Drake Hotel; University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design; Warren's Waterless Printing; Cascades; University of Waterloo, Architecture; The Dominion; Hagen; Toronto Free Gallery; Circuit Gallery.

For more information on HYDROCITY and the WATER Festival vist