2013–14 Bickham Chair Lecture Addresses the Ephemeral Nature of Maps in Site Design


“Data and the Documentation of the Shifting Urban Landscape,” by Andrea Hansen
Monday, November 11, at 5 p.m. | Design Building, Room 103

HansenAndrea_lowresAndrea Hansen, the pending 2013–14 Marie M. Bickham Chair at the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, will lecture on “Data and the Documentation of the Shifting Urban Landscape,” at the College of Art + Design on November 11 at 5 p.m.

Hansen is a lecturer in landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she teaches core and option studios and lectures on representation and advanced digital media. Her research, writing, and design practice, Fluxscape, focuses on the use of open source data and Web platforms to map conditions and spur change in urban environments. The practice brings together multi-faceted expertise in research, urban planning, landscape architecture, graphic design, data visualization, and Web development to form a unique Internet-based approach to urbanism that is tailored to the rapidly changing technologies and culture of the 21st century.

In her opening lecture as pending Bickham Chair, Hansen will share her investigations of hyper-local maps as landscape infrastructure generators, and how she has found it necessary to “move beyond the traditional CAD, 3D modeling, and graphic design tools used by landscape architects in order to engage a broader audience on the Web.” Hansen will introduce these new tools and techniques by relating them to familiar, analog methods ranging from sketching and diagramming to surveying and GIS mapping.

“When considering the ephemerality of landscape and its countless types of flux—seasonal, diurnal, material, historical, tidal—the notion of documenting the absolute measurements of the landscape seems absurd,” said Hansen. “This premise is brought into especially sharp focus when considering the study of the Gulf Coast region, where shifting coastlines define every aspect of the environment with little regard for whether that environment is natural or constructed.”

Hansen’s lecture will explore technology such as parametrics, GIS, and simulation as the foundations for site analysis and site design that focuses on landscape characteristics ranging from topography to hydrology, vegetation, habitat, migration, and urban development. By harnessing these technologies and unpacking their origins in techniques and cartographic conventions that emerged as early as the 16th century, her lecture will cover a range of techniques that are not only technically precise and data driven, but also visually clear and compelling.

Hansen’s mapping research has focused recently on the charting of the complexities of coastal and estuarine systems as well as the relationships between natural disasters and demographics, with a particular emphasis on representing fluidity and temporal gradients in a way that is simultaneously analytical and evocative.

“For this work, there is no better living laboratory than the Gulf Coast region, with its complex intertwining of ecological and social phenomena,” said Hansen.

Hansen will use a range of examples from her own work and from contemporary practice to examine landscape at multiple special and temporal scales, with particular attention paid to the complexities of large-scale sites. Ultimately, Hansen will address how designers can maintain site context as an integral part of design as landscape sites are ever increasing in scale and complexity.

About Andrea Hansen
Andrea Hansen holds a BA in urban studies and civil engineering from Stanford University and dual masters in landscape architecture and architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Hansen was recently named the inaugural Daniel Urban Kiley Teaching Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design and was chosen as one of Next City’s 40 Under 40 Vanguard Class of Urban Leaders. She is pending 2013–14 Bickham Chair at Louisiana State University and is a 2014 Code for America Fellow. Hansen’s website and upcoming book, Visualizing Systems, explores the mapping and visualization of complex systems through the use of both contemporary and historic precedents. Hansen advocates media-based urbanism through her writing for the website, her teaching at the General Assembly, and her blog landscape overlook(ed), which aims to provide a stronger voice for landscape architecture in the mainstream media.

About LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture
The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture has established an international reputation as one of America’s leading and consistently top-ranked programs. Part of the LSU College of Art + Design, the school offers Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs. For over 60 years, the program has produced landscape architects who practice all over the world and participate in the full spectrum of the discipline. For more information, visit

Angela Harwood
LSU College of Art + Design
102 Design Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803