In the Hurricane, On the Land

Robert Adams, Longmont, Colorado, 1973. Gelatin silver print, 15.1 x 19.2 cm. CCA Collection © Robert Adams, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

To be “in the hurricane” is to live and work with shoreline erosion, droughts, and intense storms—it is to recognize how the contemporary climate crisis transcends all and entangles us collectively in its gyre. We live in a time of collective disorientation that affects marginalized communities, often land-dependent ones more than others.

The CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Program seeks new and urgent modes of orientation that ask earthbound designers and their allies to ground and value land: lands held by others in care and lands that have been claimed, reclaimed, and not ceded. It is a call to undertake research and design projects that are site-specific, climate-dependent, historically attuned, and collaborative. As a collective and all-encompassing state, being “in the hurricane” calls for grounded, land-caring practices that match the intensity of the storm.

Land-dependent design practices that focus on shaping land through social and ecological relationships hold the potential to create, support, and advocate for lands that ensure our survival in an increasingly divided world. This call seeks practitioners and researchers working across landscape architecture, architecture, and allied practices who value how land is anchored by community building, situated interventions, and defined by everyday ecological realities. It seeks to foreground regenerative land practices that cut across disciplinary boundaries between architects and landscape architects to centre ecological conditions such as soil health, geology, botany, and more.

The practices of land-dependent designers are central to the CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Program. To this end, we seek proposals about specific, real-world sites that engage communities with ties and commitments to land and solicit projects that do this intentionally over time and with a view toward relationship building. Projects that are urgent, grounded, redefine land-based practices, and emphasize site-specific concerns and community members will form the grounds of research, collaboration, and intervention suggested by the concept of being “in the hurricane.”

In line with this practice-based orientation, this call also invites researchers who approach land-dependent design from historical and theoretical perspectives. Environmental historians, political ecologists, and environmental lawyers would all possess expertise that could give dimensionality to lands that are under threat. Their knowledge would also align with the program’s ambition to foreground issues that disregard conventional academic and disciplinary boundaries and shape new forms of thought and collective practice.

Finally, with its emphasis on urgency and specificity, this program welcomes applications that foreground land dependent-design as a mode of collective action that can address the current material manifestations of the climate crisis. The program seeks participants who are willing to probe and redraw the social and professional boundaries of architecture and landscape architecture to advance a shared method for navigating the aftermaths of un/natural disasters. Applications should develop historical and theoretical precision on how land-based interventions can become a form of public advocacy and activism, either today, in the past, or looking toward the future. 

Topics participants may address include, but are not limited to:

• Redefinitions and expansions of landscape architecture as a practice, particularly in relation to the climate crisis
• Learning from existing regenerative, restorative, and/or reparative land practices
• Role of Indigenous, migrant, and other communities that have been separated from land
• Collective memory and displacement from land
• Landholding as a capitalist practice
• Survival as a design philosophy
• Theoretical foundations of land across political philosophy and/or legal studies
• Hurricanes as metaphors and sites
• Historical approaches to land politics across time periods and geographies, with a particular focus on moments of crisis
• Field research as a land-dependent practice
• Global warming as a land-dependent phenomenon
• Connections between infrastructure and land
• Land politics and ecological change

Landscape architecture, architecture, and their allied fields can learn to listen to damaged lands that have been forced to be resilient. Land-dependent design holds the potential to become a shared mode of inquiry, one that can create new collaborative practices addressing ecologies and lands, constructions of landscapes and infrastructures, and architectural works.  For practitioners, researchers, and activists in landscape architecture, urban planning, Indigenous studies, postcolonial studies, political ecology, and beyond, to hold land in care is to consider where we stand.


The collaborative and multidisciplinary research project directed by the CCA is open to practitioners, researchers, and cultural producers at all career and educational levels, including Masters and PhD students. Applicants currently working in professional design settings are encouraged to apply and highlight how their current projects may benefit from engagement with the questions and concerns of the In the Hurricane project. Collectives are also welcome to apply, though they will be asked to nominate a single representative to attend workshops and other project-specific activities. Applicants should submit their proposal through our portal by 2 October at midnight (EST).

Applications, in either English or French, must include a voice note (5 min. max., MP3 or M4A) that answers the two following questions:

  1. How do you define the state of being “in the hurricane”?

  2. What is a land-based intervention for you?

These recordings can be made on sites that matter to each applicant and reflect their concerns through audio rather than visual means; they can also include the voices of collaborators and/or community members. In addition, application packages should include the following documents as a single PDF:

• a 750-word project outline describing where your research/design work takes place, why it is important to you, and how this research project will contribute to imagining new, collective futures for land-dependent design;
• a 300-word description of the principal sites/archives/people important to your research project, which may address holdings in the CCA Collection and/or other archives,
• a CV,
• a portfolio of relevant work/writing/art-based practice,
• a short biography of no more than 300 words highlighting your engagement with caring for the land.

CCA-Mellon Seminar

In the Hurricane will unfold in two phases. First, the CCA will invite sixteen shortlisted applicants to participate in a multi-day Mellon Seminar, which will take place online in November 2023. Seminar participants will share their individual projects to set the terms of the project and establish a common state of the field. All sixteen shortlisted applicants will receive a 1000 $USD stipend for participating in the CCA-Mellon Seminar. Following a peer-review process, eight applicants will be selected to return for the second phase of the project and participate in the Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project. The spirit of the CCA-Mellon Seminar is one of supporting and sharing in the production of knowledge.

Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project

The eight selected Mellon Researchers will reconvene in December 2023 for an in-person workshop at the CCA in Montréal to begin their eighteen-month engagement with the In the Hurricane project. The project will run for 18 months and involve two further workshops with invited experts in other locations. Each Mellon Researcher will receive funding to support their research and participation in three multi-day Mellon workshops, this includes a 12 000 $USD stipend and a 3500 $USD research allowance (as well as return airfare to their chosen research site). Mellon Researchers will contribute to various objectives and outcomes of the research project by producing individual projects in conversation with the group and with the CCA, by contributing to a shared collective project conceived by the group, and by critically engaging with the CCA Collection and library holdings.

CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project Convenors
Giovanna Borasi, Director, CCA
Rafico Ruiz, Associate Director, Research, CCA

External advisors
Azzurra Cox, University of Pennsylvania
Jane Mah Hutton, University of Waterloo
Momoyo Kaijima, ETH Zurich/Atelier Bow Wow

This is the CCA’s sixth and final Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project; please consult our past projects.


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