About Us

We work with natural systems to manage human problems at ports and harbors

Our Vision

Landscape design inspires a new era of research and sediment engineering practices that produce shared outcomes for interconnected ecological, social, and economic systems.

Our Mission

We bring together innovative research and practice to design context-informed pilot projects that cultivate healthy, thriving, and climate-resilient rivermouth landscapes for small to midsize port communities.

These projects test critical breakthroughs related to sediment management at ports and create opportunities to experiment with hands-on physical modeling to simulate site conditions and complement the analytical power of computational models to implement projects at various scales.


Where We Work

The Great Lakes

The story of the Great Lakes Basin’s economic and ecological health can be told through its ports and harbors. New approaches to coastal management must balance the needs of ecology, industry, and the communities that live, work, and play at this crucial intersection. Our goal is basin-wide cultural and economic impact through strategic local interventions.

What We Do

Contextual Sediment Management

We are testing unconventional sediment management approaches like Passive Sediment Management that work with natural processes, forms, or systems to convert sediment management into a ​​productive process contributing to land creation, risk reduction, habitat improvement, and revenue streams.

How We Work

Process and Possibilities

Our approach is founded on engagement and inquiry at a fundamental level. We work closely with the people, ecosystems, and cultural histories that make the coastal Great Lakes such an amazing landscape. Through working with this collection of actors and asking landscape-based questions, we co-develop insight into what could be possible and beneficial for coastal communities of the Great Lakes Region.

Meet the Team

Sean Burkholder

Sean Burkholder is the Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches design studios and courses in research methods and landscape assessment. His research coalesces around the human and non-human interactions associated with freshwater ecosystems, with a particular focus on inland lakes.

Brian Davis

Brian Davis  is an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia. He teaches design studios as well as classes on construction technology and landscape theory. His research looks at the relationship between landscape aesthetics and instruments, with a geographic focus in the Great Lakes Basin and the Chesapeake Bay.

Tess Ruswick

Tess Ruswick is the research associate with Healthy Port Futures at University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Wildlife Biology from University of Vermont. She is interested in the application of design research, and the integration of landscape architecture in large-scale infrastructure projects.

Awards & Press

Stay updated on progress for current projects and recognition from the design and scientific communities.

More About Healthy Port Futures