Landscape Architecture

  • Using a Building with Nature approach, EcoShape is building a stable coastline in the Demak district of Indonesia.

Building with Nature

Monday, December 6, 2021 12:00pmFriday, December 10, 2021 12:00pm
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Virtual Event; Register Online (Links Below)

The Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design presents Building with Nature, a series of webinars based on the work featured in the book Building with Nature (Rotterdam: Nai010publishers, 2020).

The Building with Nature approach was developed by EcoShape, a consortium of dredging companies, engineers, scientists and NGOs who have now completed a series of projects globally that echo the call of legendary Penn Professor Ian McHarg to ‘design with nature’. Like initiatives such as the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering with Nature, Building with Nature is at the forefront of a renewed appreciation of nature-based solutions for our current climate and biodiversity crisis which have attracted support from governments and institutions including the World Bank.

In a series of daily lunchtime (noon ET) presentations and conversations moderated by Weitzman Professor of Practice Matthijs Bouw (founder and principal at One Architecture & Urbanism), who co-edited Building with Nature with Erik van Eekelen, Penn faculty members and other American and Dutch experts to discuss the various aspects of this approach to hydraulic engineering and design that harnesses the forces of nature to benefit environment, economy and society. Through case studies, the speakers will demonstrate the application of the Building with Nature approach in various landscape types.

Monday, December 6, 12:00 - 1:00pm
New Paradigm/Old Story (Register)

Weitzman Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner will kick off the week. Jan Brooke (author of the 2008 PIANC position paper ‘Working with Nature), Todd Bridges (national lead of the US Army Corps’ ‘Engineering With Nature®’ program), Karen M’Closkey (associate professor of landscape architecture at Weitzman, co-editor of Design with Nature Now), and Ronald Waterman (originator of the Building with Nature philosophy) will discuss the history, lessons learned and future of ‘… with Nature’. Erik van Eekelen of EcoShape will discuss the organization’s recent work on ports.

Tuesday, December 7, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Uncertainty (Register)

Oscar Serpell, associate director of academic programming and student engagement at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at Penn, will discusss the work of the Kleinman Center on ‘deep uncertainty’, followed by Ellis Penning (senior advisor, Deltares), who will talk about dealing with uncertainties when working with nature, and raise the question if these uncertainties are a problem or an asset when responding to the uncertainties of climate crisis. Maria Dillard (research social scientist, National Institute of Standards and Techology) will present the Engaging Communities and Stakeholders in implementing NNBF report.

Wednesday, December 8, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Knowledge (Register)

This session will focus on measuring and monitoring the performance of nature-based solutions, and the importance of experimentation and pilot-projects, with Kate Orff (founder and principal, SCAPE), Bregje van Wesenbeeck (Deltares) and Sean Burkholder (Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Weitzman). Marjolein Sterk (researcher, Wageningen University) will present the vision that Wageningen University and Research (WUR) developed for a nature-based Netherlands in 2120.

Thursday, December 9, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Landscape-Based Solutions (Register)

The role of landscape architecture in the visioning and implementation of nature-based solutions at scale will be explored with Richard Weller (professor and chair of landscape architecture, and Meyerson Chair of Urbanism, Weitzman), Commonland Founder and CEO Willem Ferwerda, who works on large-scale, long term landscape restoration projects globally, Henk Ovink (Netherlands Water Envoy) will reflect on the role of design, and Justine Shapiro-Kline (associate, One Architecture & Urbanism), who will talk about the method of ‘landscape propositions’ that One Architecture & Urbanism has developed for Building with Nature. Robert Levinthal (PhD candidate, Weitzman, and researcher, Dredge Research Collaborative) will outline the ‘Mega-Eco’ research.

Friday, December 10, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Value (Register)

The benefits that nature-based solutions bring, and how to capture them, is the topic of the final session. Fokko van der Goot (program manager, EcoShape) will present Ecoshape’s findings about the multiple benefits from its project in Demak, Indonesia. Ben Cohen (director, Quantified Ventures) will discuss the Mississippi River Infrastructure Fund. Wharton Risk Center Executive Director Carolyn Kousky will discuss the Center’s work on underwriting ecosystems and the opportunities for funding and financing ‘… with Nature’. Henk Nieboer, director of EcoShape, will reflect on the week’s talks.

The program is subject to modifications and additions.

This series is co-presented by the Embassy of the Netherlands, Washington, D.C., and Wharton Risk Center, and made possible in part with funding from the Government of the Netherlands.


If you require any accessibility accommodation, such as live captioning, audio description, or a sign language interpreter, please email to let us know what you need. Please note, we require at least 48 hours’ notice. If you register within 48 hours of this event, we won’t be able to secure the appropriate accommodations.

Building with Nature: New Paradigm / Old story
Building with Nature: Uncertainty
Building with Nature: Knowledge
Building with Nature: Landscape-Based Solutions
Building with Nature: Value