EDRA45NewOrleans takes place May 28-31, 2014 at the Astor Crowne Plaza in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Conference Theme: EDRA45: Building With Change

Co-chairs: Jeffrey Carney and Kristi Cheramie

Civilizations flourish along the edges of dynamic environmental systems. Many of our greatest cities are located on rivers, coastlines, or deltas where the confluence of nat¬ural systems provides abundant resources. Historically, the tremendous advantages of these locations enabled industry, commerce, and the culture of diverse inhabitants to thrive, despite the environmental risks of flood and storm. Vernacular building traditions, environmental awareness, and social resilience effectively tempered these substantial risks. However, over the past century we have manipulated and controlled natural systems to an unprecedented extent, maximizing urban stability. At what cost has stability been achieved? As the climate changes, energy becomes scarce, weather grows harder to predict, and sea levels rise, we are experiencing the limitations of this paradigm of control. How can environmental design research prepare us to evolve our inhabited landscape and build with change?

EDRA45: Building with Change will focus on new research methods and design strategies for the human habitation of our dynamic environment. Without sacrificing the principles of safety, comfort, justice, cognition, and choice, how can design lead to innovative ways of accepting, absorbing, and reacting to change? Does change present us with design opportunities? Can building with change, in fact, provide opportunity for even greater environmental, social, and economic health and stability? Conference themes will engage diverse approaches to building with change, from resisting dynamic environmental forces to accepting and accommodating them. Sessions will address a range of research and design methods including cognition and developing awareness of change, anticipatory planning for possible future scenarios, and design inquiry about dwelling in a dynamic landscape.

In 1977 geographer Pierce Lewis described New Orleans, the host city for EDRA45, as, “an inevitable city on an impossible site.” Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the city was widely touted as an epic story of triumph over nature: taming the mighty Mississippi, draining mosquito-infested swamps, and tempering overwhelming humidity allowed a vibrant, diverse society to exist in this unlikely location. But as the region comes to terms with past and future storms and a changing deltaic environment, the city of New Orleans along with communities across the Gulf Coast have now stepped forward as the harbingers of a new era, trading the forceful control of natural systems for strategic resilience, designed flexibility, and increased awareness of change.

EDRA45NewOrleans asks what we can gain by building a more robust relationship between the inhabited and natural environment. As a research community we seek to build a body of knowledge, a combination of design and research that elevates the inhabitable environment to something that is not only beautiful or merely functional but that also adapts to the complex needs of an ever-changing landscape.


Conference Tracks

TRACK 01: SHIFTING LATITUDES Track Chair: Brian Davis

Keywords: latitude, migration, phenology, global north-south relations, climate change

This track will examine how a new conceptualization of latitude as a shifting temporal relation is useful for understanding rapidly shifting cultural values, social actors, and ecological vectors in times of large-scale environmental change.



Keywords: ecology, resilience, complexity, legibility, ecological design

This track explores contemporary and emerging ideas in ecology—from scientific to social-cultural domains—and asks how ideas of resilience, complexity and uncertainty are affecting and affected by environmental planning and design as these practices relate to ecological legibility.


​TRACK 03: MAPPING CHANGE Track Chair: Renee Y. Chow

Keywords: modeling, predicting, projecting, representing

Environmental design research is often called upon to map the complexity of human cultures within global change. This track will explore the predictive and projective tools used to envision the nature of changing.


​TRACK 04: DWELLING WITH CHANGE Track Chairs: Lynne Dearborn, Fang Xu, Eunju Hwang

Keywords: dwelling, multi-dimensionality, contextual changes, design process, neighborhood

Employing dwelling as a lens to emphasize totality, multi-dimensionality, and contextuality, this track addresses the various changes occurring in the many aspects of human inhabitation and their design and research implications.


​​TRACK 05: DELICATE ADJUSTMENTS OF THE LOCAL AND THE GLOBAL Track Chairs: Michael McClure and Ursula Emery McClure

Keywords: localization and globalization, resiliency, simultaneity, adjustability

Dynamic changes in our environment require a “delicate adjustment” between humans and nature, local and global, control and abandonment. This track will consider the paradoxical interdependence of local knowledge and global practice, focusing on practices, projects, methods, and designs that effectively engage both.


​​TRACK 06: MULTIDISCIPLINARY EXCHANGE BY DESIGN Track Chairs: Thomas Colbert, Jonathan Tate, Ann Yoachim

Keywords: multi-disciplinary, design research team structure, new institutions and practices

This track asks how increasingly multi-disciplinary design and research teams and practices are transforming our ability to anticipate, respond and build for change.


​​TRACK 07: DEMOCRATIC DESIGN PRAXIS WITH COMMUNITY Track Chairs: Mallika Bose, Paula Horrigan, Rula Awwad-Rafferty

Keywords: democratic design/planning, community engaged pedagogy, participatory action research, transdisciplinary practices

This track interrogates theories, methods and practices associated with the teaching and praxis of democratic design and planning with the objective of moving beyond disciplinary boundaries to imagine new practices that foster equitable place-based development.


​​​TRACK 08: ECOLOGIES OF THE URBAN MARGIN Track Chairs: Natalia Echeverri and Ivan Valin

Keywords: urban margin, urbanization and nature, edge ecology, informal settlement

This track explores the origins and evolution of entanglement between urban and natural systems as they are realized at the urban margins and speculates on new paradigms for planning and advocating for flexible and resilient cities.



Keywords: resilience, sacrifice, loss, failure, memory

Can we design for an unstable future by embracing loss? What can we let go? This track will explore the potential for increased resilience in the face of failure, uncertainty and ongoing sacrifice.


​​​​​TRACK 10: THE POLITICS OF LANDSCAPE Track Chair: Christopher Marcinkoski

Keywords: political instruments, urbanism, landscape, design-agency, entrepreneurial-design

As the work of the environmental/urban design disciplines is increasingly engaged in projects and research that can be characterized as fundamentally political in nature, this track looks to explore the ways in which design negotiates, manipulates, leverages, responds to, and subverts the politics of its work as an opportunity for projecting expanded disciplinary agency.



Keywords: aesthetic experience, adaptation, resilience, social behavior, urbanization

Aesthetic experiences could alter cognition, affect, and social behavior in ways that support adaptation to climate and economic changes. This track invites theoretical and applied studies of the ways in which aesthetic experiences already are or could be considered functional goals of adaption projects.


​​​​​​​TRACK 12: OPEN TRACK Track Chairs: Jeffrey Carney and Kristi Cheramie

Keywords: change as catalyst, adaptation, reflection and speculation

How can research enable designers, policymakers, artists, theoreticians, philosophers, writers, scientists, activists, and others to develop innovative ways of accepting, absorbing, and reacting to change in the built environment? Does change present us with opportunities?


Additional information (about hotel accomodation, scholarships, and others) can be found on the EDRA conference page.