Ports of the Great Lakes: Envisioning the Future

What could the ports system of the Great Lakes Basin look like in the future? Can it play a direct role in restoring ecosystems and improving Great Lakes environmental health? How can the region move toward a ports future less defined by the need for expensive, recurring dredging — and more defined by multi-functionality and new forms of value?

These are a few of the stimulating questions being explored through our recently-awarded project design grant led by Cornell University. The multi-disciplinary project team includes landscape architects, designers, planners, economic modelers, geomorphologists, geologists, ports representatives and others. Over 12 months, the team will create several tools that culminate in a proof-of-concept simulation model for 2-3 port locations. Their tools with include a combination of digital and physical models (examples are found below). As with all project design awards, the final product will be a full proposal to the Fund to implement their tools at specific ports, and undertake activities that are ecologically and economically sustainable.

The Fund’s interest in this work was first sparked by learning about the Dredge Research Collaborative in the feature article “The Dredge Underground” in Landscape Architecture Magazine (PDF) (August 2014). We began a conversation with a couple of its members and followed their work at last summer’s DredgeFest: Great Lakes, which was well received.

Our region’s thorniest problems require fresh thinking from a wide range of (even “unconventional”) disciplines and over longer time scales than are typically considered. We’re looking forward to seeing the out-of-box thinking created through this project design award.

— Stephanie Lindloff, Project Development Manager


  • GLPF Projects

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