Mobile Bay

Initiated Fall 2017

Faculty Rob Holmes

Students Alexander Channell, Jaspuneet Kaur, Radhika Shenoy, Rui Wang, Xueting Zhou, Yuanyua Gao, Yuzhou Jin

Most often, Alabama Lab projects begin with a relationship between the instructor and a set of outside partners; dialogue with those partners leads to identifying a suitable project and agreeing on a set of achievable goals for a semester. The landscape

program faculty have also identified, though, a need for Alabama Lab projects to sometimes begin with more searching, geographically-structured studies. 

In Fall of 2017, Alabama Lab initiated a study of coastal resilience issues in Mobile Bay, the United States’ fourth- largest estuary. We began the semester with a series of questions: What are the major concerns for coastal resilience planning in Mobile Bay and coastal Alabama? What are the key scales of time and space for understanding and designing for resilience in Mobile Bay and coastal Alabama? What opportunities exist to develop new forms of landscape infrastructure in Mobile Bay? What might it mean to learn to live with change, with the dynamism of landscapes, in Mobile Bay? What new paradigms for infrastructure design can be envisioned that are adaptive and flexible, rather than dependent on control and efficiency? 

We investigated these questions through a series of exercises: cartographic studies, the construction of scenarios using scenario planning methods, fieldwork along the margins of Mobile Bay and on the barrier islands that separate it from the Gulf Mexico, and, most centrally, design proposals, which led us both to more questions and some initial sketches of answers.

This book is the result of a semester-long investigation of Mobile Bay. This project would not have been possible without the kind help and support of many individuals and organizations. On behalf of the the Auburn University Master of Landscape Architecture Program, we would like to thank those who have lent a helping hand throughout the design process.

Renee Collini at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Paul Lamars from the National Estuary Program, Susan Rees and Justin MacDonald from the US Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, and Jamie Bullock from Mobile Baykeeper were all kind enough to arrange discussions that helped us better understand the state of the bay and on-going resilience efforts there.

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