Where We Work

The Great Lakes

Overview of the Great Lakes

Miles of Coastline

Trillion GDP

Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region

Ports and marinas in the Great Lakes Basin are cultural and economic engines. They can drive ecological health, too. Our work in the region addresses degradation of public landscapes in critical nearshore habitats across the region. Local approaches can not only have regional benefits in the Basin, but they signal a new way of thinking about landscape design on coastlines. Experimental pilot projects test concepts, uncover new processes, and demonstrate new approaches to funding, regulation, policy, and multi-agency collaboration. We hope they inspire communities beyond the Great Lakes region to rethink design, policy, dredging practices, and the interconnectedness of dynamic human and ecological systems in the face of new challenges including the current and anticipated effects of climate change.

New Approach for Changing Landscapes

Budget restrictions, regulatory issues, and industrial decline in the region demand new approaches to sediment management where environmental, cultural, and economic needs work in concert instead of in conflict. Conventional coastal management methods can be disruptive, expensive, and focused on short-term results. We are developing new integrated and sustainable approaches that view sediment as a resource, not a waste product, and work with the flow and fluctuation of rivers and currents to increase wetland habitat and connect coastal management needs with broader social and ecological health concerns.
Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Lost
Species of Fish Supported


The project began at the scale of the entire Great Lakes Basin. One of the key components of the analytical work was to establish the scope of intervention and identify key partners and locations that demonstrated a range of forcing conditions, spanned the basin’s geography, and showed opportunity for larger-scale deployment. The goal was basin-wide impact through local intervention. Three of the sites chosen were the Port of Lorain, Ohio (Lake Erie), the recreational harbor of Port Bay, New York (Lake Ontario) and the coast of Illinois Beach State Park (Lake Michigan).


All of the projects included here are slated for construction in the near future and monitoring will follow. The construction of these experimental pilot projects is the product of intensive planning, analysis and outreach, in addition to productive collaborations with other institutions and stakeholders. The Sensitive Structures project by Healthy Port Futures represents an expansion of the agency of landscape architecture in coastal environments.

More About Healthy Port Futures