DredgeFest Great Lakes is a symposium, field expedition, and speculative design workshop about the human manipulation of sediments. It is an encounter between government agencies, designers, theorists, academics, corporate practitioners, industry experts, students, and the public.

DredgeFest Great Lakes runs August 14-21 2015 in Minnesota. There are a wide variety of events and you are invited to participate in part or all of the festival.

Symposium Friday, August 14 to Saturday, August 15 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (with additional tour Sunday, August 16 in New Richmond, WI)

Workshops Sunday, August 16 to Friday, August 21 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Tour Monday, August 17 Duluth

Click here for tickets to DredgeFest Great Lakes.

DredgeFest Great Lakes is organized by the Dredge Research Collaborative and hosted by the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture and Department of Landscape Architecture. DredgeFest is a roving conference and workshop series. This is the third DredgeFest. The first was held in New York and the second in Louisiana.

Why Dredging?
Dredging is the linear industrial activity of uplifting sediments and transporting them to new locations. It is used to clear waterways, dig channels, clean polluted riverbeds, and change the course of rivers. We believe that dredging is a key component of a much wider cycle of human practices that accelerate, decelerate, transport, and materially alter sediments.

Together, these activities constitute landscape architecture at continental scales. We are interested in how the full range of technologies, practices, and organizations operating within that wider cycle collectively alter sedimentary balances, both eroding and generating landscapes.

DredgeFest begins with dredging, but DredgeFest is about much more than dredging.

Why the Great Lakes?
The Great Lakes basin is the largest source of freshwater in North America. At once landlocked and international, its lakes and landscapes have been extensively modified by human settlement and use. In a relatively short time period, the lakes’ shores, bathymetry, ecosystems, and water quality have all been significantly changed. These conditions have profound implications for the design, planning and management of regional landscapes, from industrial ports to wildlife areas.

Shifting Baselines
The theme for DredgeFest Great Lakes is Shifting Baselines.

The phrase “shifting baseline” was introduced in landscape architect Ian McHarg’s famous manifesto Design With Nature. It has since become a key conceptual tool in environmental circles. In 1995, a paper by Daniel Pauly showed that fisheries experts tended to think in terms of the state of the environment at the beginnings of their career. Baselines shift as new generations grow up thinking that whatever they grew up with was natural, ignoring exactly how much things has already been changed before they were born.

But ‘shifting’ needn’t be a passive verb. Baselines can be shifted with care and intent. For DredgeFest Great Lakes, we propose to think both about how baselines have been shifted and how they could be shifted in the futch.

DredgeFest will bring together practitioners and stakeholders from a range of groups deeply concerned about these issues and offer participants an opportunity to explore the strange current conditions and long term futures of the region.


For media inquiries, general questions, or other matters besides sponsorship, contact Tim Maly (tmaly@dredgeresearchcollaborative.org).

Four Coasts
DredgeFest is a roving event series, with the first four editions of DredgeFest spanning the four coasts of the continental United States.

The first DredgeFest was held in New York City on September 28 and 29, 2012. DredgeFest NYC was organized in partnership with Studio-X NYC, an arm of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; sponsored by Arcadis, TenCate, and TWFM Ferry; and featured speakers and content from agencies including the US Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and New York City Economic Development Corporation. The event was covered in The Atlantic Monthly, Wired Design, Urban Omnibus,Dredging Today, Scenario Journal, Landscape Architecture Frontiers China, and Landscape Architecture Magazine. A full description and video archive of the event can be found here.

The second DredgeFest was held in Louisiana from January 11 to 17, 2014. Partners included the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University, the Coastal Sustainability Studio at Louisiana State University, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Gulf Coast Public Lab, and Scenario Journal. A full description and (eventually) video archive can be found here.

DredgeFest Great Lakes is supported by donations and funding from:

University of Minnesota Imagine Chair in the Arts, Design and Humanities
University of Minnesota Imagine Special Events Fund
University of Minnesota College of Design
University of Minnesota School of Architecture
Landscape Architecture Magazine

The workshops are supported by:

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock

The Duluth tour is supported by:

Bay West
City of Duluth
Duluth Seaway Port Authority

Additional promotional support has been provided by Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.