MAS Context Spring Talks 2020
Climate Adaptation

Pierre Part, Louisiana © Virginia Hanusik


This event has been postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and related restrictions on travel. We will try to reschedule this event this fall.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Event starts at 6 pm.


Architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius, architect Claire Cahan, and photographer Virginia Hanusik will lecture on Tuesday, March 17, as part of MAS Context’s 2020 Spring Talks series. The lecture will take place at Studio Gang Architects (1520 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60642).


Due to a scheduling conflict, Jeanne Gang will not be able to participate as originally planned. Claire Cahan, Design Director at Studio Gang, will be presenting at the event.


Climate Adaptation

In the Texas Golden Triangle, the petrochemical industry has been ubiquitous since the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop blew crude oil into the air for nine days in January 1901, the beginning of the East Texas oil boom. In 2018, architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius spent nine months working on the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in this area, conducting fieldwork on thousands of floodwater damaged historic buildings and providing consultation on in-kind, in-place repair and mitigation to lessen the risk of damage in a future event of climate violence.

Studio Gang uses design as a medium to connect people to each other, to their communities, and to the environment. The Studio’s founder, Jeanne Gang, is also a Professor in Practice at the Harvard GSD where her research and teaching focus on resiliency and reuse. In 2018, Jeanne and her studio joined the non-profit organization All Hearts and Hands in their rebuilding efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands after the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The studio met with local partners and surveyed storm-damaged sites to develop design responses that re-establish and strengthen critical community services.

New Orleans-based photographer Virginia Hanusik’s work explores the relationship between landscape, culture, and the built environment. Since 2014, she has been working on a body of work about climate adaptation along the American coast, including the history of building practices and development in South Louisiana, and our collective memory as a landscape transforms.

During this event, architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius, architect Jeanne Gang, and photographer Virginia Hanusik will present their ongoing work and discuss other aspects of climate change as it relates to our built environment, our adaptation to these changes, and the long-term effects that it has in our communities.


Suggested readings

Elizabeth Blasius, “Hurricane Harvey, the Golden Triangle, and the Inequality of Relief,” MAS Context

Virginia Hanusik, “A Receding Coast,” MAS Context

Virginia Hanusik, “Liminal Frontier: Climate Adaptation and the American Coast,” MAS Context

All Hands and Hearts, “US Virgin Islands Hurricane Relief”


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Area trailer parks are full, Beaumont. © Elizabeth Blasius


Jeanne Gang and her Harvard GSD studio volunteered with All Hands and Hearts to gather belongings and sort recyclable debris in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, March 2018. © Studio Gang.


Elizabeth Blasius is an American architectural historian whose work encourages people to consider placemaking through existing buildings and vintage communities, and explores the potential for historic preservation to examine more personal stories and bring them into the practice. Her work seeks to build trust and collaboration between agencies that protect historic resources and the public. She develops innovative solutions that discourage gatekeeping and allow room for those that have stock in cultural resources to realistically manage development. Ultimately, her work strives to kick the doors wide open for underrepresented aspects of heritage, built and cultural. | @blaservations

Claire Cahan is an architect and Design Director at Studio Gang. Claire leads the design of exhibitions and special initiatives, working closely with Jeanne Gang to further the Studio’s design approach and amplifying Jeanne’s voice through lectures, research, and teaching. central to her work is the relationship between the built, urban, and natural environments. Having been with Studio Gang for nearly a decade, Claire has collaborated on many of Studio Gang’s most pivotal, large-scale projects, including the transformation of Northerly Island into a thriving urban ecological park and the strategic masterplan for the National Aquarium in Baltimore. | @studiogang

Virginia Hanusik is an artist and architectural researcher whose work explores the relationship between culture and the built environment. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally and featured in publications such as Domus, Places Journal, NPR, Fast Company, Newsweek, and The Atlantic, among others. She received her B.A. from Bard College and is currently working on a project about the architecture of climate change in South Louisiana with support from the Graham Foundation. She is a member of the Climate Working Group at New York University and was ranked as one of Planetizen‘s Most Influential Urbanists in 2017. She lives in New York City. | @virginiahanusik

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