Associate professor Robert Wright has been director of the Daniels Faculty's Centre for Landscape Research (CLR) for the past six years. Now, as he prepares to step down from that post so he can assume a new role as interim dean of the Daniels Faculty, a new director is getting ready to step up.
Fadi Masoud, an assistant professor at the Daniels Faculty, will take over leadership of the CLR, effective July 1.
Masoud is a 2010 graduate from the Daniels Faculty's Master of Landscape Architecture program. In 2012, he graduated with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design's post-professional program. He lectured at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before taking his current position at the Daniels Faculty in 2017.
In addition to teaching at Daniels, Masoud holds a number of influential public appointments, including seats on the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel and the City of Toronto Urban Flooding Resiliency Strategy Working Group.
His research interests centre on the role of design tools in promoting climate-change resilience and adaptation in urban landscapes — a topic he plans to make into a major focus of the CLR's future efforts through a newly established Platform for Resilient Urbanism (PRU). (In June of 2019, Masoud curated a public exhibition titled “Resilient TO” and helped organize the official launch of Toronto’s first resilience strategy at the Daniels Faculty.)
"The main medium-term focus will be around strengthening research and design work on climate and social resilience and equity at the Daniels Faculty," Masoud says. "What can designers contribute to these conversations? How can we play a leadership role, and shape the discourse on urban climate adaptation and resilience, while augmenting the efforts of political, social, and climate scientists?”
The CLR was founded in the early 1980s as a platform for research into advanced visualization techniques for use in landscape architecture.
In those early days, John Danahy (now a Daniels Faculty professor emeritus) and Robert Wright, along with a number of other researchers, used some of the era's most powerful computer workstations to produce a software package called polyTRIM — one of the first computer modelling systems tailored specifically to the needs of landscape architects.
The CLR, now based at the Daniels Building, currently remotely employs 10 research assistants from across the Daniels Faculty's degree programs and computer science.
As Masoud works to transform the CLR's mission, he will leverage some of his existing research projects, which are already in progress with funding in place.
One project that Masoud will bring under the aegis of the CLR is Flux.land, his joint effort with MIT's Urban Risk Lab to develop a web-based tool to visualize flood risk in Florida's Broward County. The project is being completed with support from Broward County's Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department.
Masoud will use his CLR directorship to advance his research into resilience strategies for Waterfront Toronto, the tripartite agency that oversees urban renewal on Toronto's Lake Ontario shoreline. He'll also be continuing his exploration of equitable resilience strategies for Toronto's "tower in the park" neighbourhoods through the University of Toronto's School of Cities Urban Challenge Group. And he'll continue to expand his research on shoreline terraforming, the subject of his forthcoming book on urban districts built on reclaimed land, to be published by Actar later this year.
He hopes to continue the CLR's tradition of working across disciplines. "It's not going to be an inward-looking centre," he says. "It's going to be a convener and connector. I've been working with people outside of Daniels during my entire time at the Faculty. What this directorship will allow me to do is actually bring those people to Daniels through the CLR."
GRIT Lab, the CLR's innovative laboratory for the research and testing of green-roof technologies, will continue its normal operations.
Masoud's suite of initiatives through the Platform for Resilient Urbanism at the Centre for Landscape Research will officially launch later this summer with a new website.