Courageous by Design Speakers
Oberlander Prize Forums

Conference Proceedings (Video) from Courageous by Design 

New York, NY

At the October 15, 2021 symposium Courageous by Design, headlining and provocative women landscape architects discussed how they’re innovatively addressing the climate crisis in New York City. The inaugural Oberlander Prize Forum took place at a time when the  city’s Department of City Planning (DCP) is actively engaging with communities throughout the five boroughs to advance their own zoning and land use strategies in an effort to “reduce flood risks and support the city’s vitality and resiliency through long-term adaptive planning.” Panels focused on the scope and scale of the problem, how to deal with the bureaucracies with whom they would interact, biological diversity, and community engagement.

Dealing with the intractable problem of an existential threat requires a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary response and as this symposium demonstrated landscape architects are the leaders on this issue. Observers said the symposium was “truly inspiring,” “intimate and open,” and a place of “inspiration, sharing, [and] cooperation.”



Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, President & CEO, The Cultural Landscape Foundation 


Opening Remarks 

Elizabeth K. Meyer, FASLA, Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture 


Three Perspectives on Leading with Landscape Architecture 

Martha Schwartz, FASLA, Hon RIBA, Hon RDI, Senior Partner, Martha Schwartz Partners 

Lisa Switkin, FAAR, ASLA, Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations 

Kate Orff, RLA, FASLA, Founding Principal, SCAPE 


Panel Discussion led by Elizabeth Meyer


What We Can Do Part 1: Preparing and Adapting Bureaucracies for our Future Climate 

Opening Remarks: Heather M. Morgan, RLA, Director of Climate Risk Adaptation, AECOM Metro New York 

Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA, Principal, MNLA 

Annette P. Wilkus, FASLA, Founder, SiteWorks Landscape Architecture 


Oberlander Prize Remarks 

Dorothée Imbert, Inaugural Oberlander Prize Chair 


What We Can Do Part 2: Biological Diversity is as Important as Social Diversity 

Opening Remarks: Rebecca McMackin, Director of Horticulture, Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Edwina von Gal, Founder / President, Perfect Earth Project 

Barbara Wilks, FASLA, FAIA, Principal and Founder, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture 


Panel Discussion led by Rebecca McMackin 


Closing Panel: Pathways to Civic Engagement 

Moderator: John Beardsley, Curator of The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize, The Cultural Landscape Foundation 


Mary Margaret Jones, President and CEO, Hargreaves Jones 

Amy L. Freitag, Executive Director, The J.M. Kaplan Fund 

Miranda K.S. Massie, Director, The Climate Museum 

Olivia Georgia, Executive Director, City as a Living Laboratory