Fuller Lecture

The Fuller Center | Previous Lectures: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

The Fuller Center supports an annual lecture and seminar at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The program expands on the annual theme. The seminar is a forum for students to explore the leading edge of landscape sustainability with international experts. The lecture provides a public forum for the community on the same topic.

Catherine Seavitt Nordenson
Shifting Sands: Sedimentary Cycles for Jamaica Bay

Shifting Sands is a framework for enhancing coastal resiliency at Jamaica Bay, New York, a location highly impacted by the 2012 landfall of Hurricane Sandy. The proposal includes novel design strategies for marsh island restoration and enhanced sediment delivery, merging ecosystem restoration with coastal storm risk management strategies for the Rockaway Peninsula and the back-bay communities. Assessing social, environmental, and infrastructural vulnerabilities, the plan embraces the vast scale and fetch dimension of Jamaica Bay and explores the role of natural and nature-based features within the urban context of this estuarine embayment.

Catherine Seavitt Nordenson is an associate professor at the City College of New York and principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio. Her research focuses on design adaptation to sea level rise in urban coastal environments and explores novel landscape restoration practices given the dynamics of climate change. Seavitt co-authored the book On the Water: Palisade Bay, a climate adaptation proposal for New York’s Upper Harbor; this study was the foundation of the 2010 exhibition “Rising Currents” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Seavitt is currently leading research at Jamaica Bay as part of Structures of Coastal Resilience, a project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

2015: Watershed Moments
Stacy Levy
Drawing Water

Water is one of our favorite substances, yet we know very little about its ways. Stacy Levy is an artist who looks into the less visible aspects of water, from hard-to-see microorganisms living in bodies of water to the hard-to-comprehend watersheds of a region. Her work investigates hidden patterns of hydrology, drainage and microscopic life forms.

Along with other water issues, many of Stacy’s project deal with rain water and runoff. Rather than shunning its existence with pipes and culverts, her works look for ways to celebrate storm water and make it part of the designed landscape.

She has collaborated extensively with engineers and landscape architects. Presently Stacy is working with Nitsch Engineering and Urban Rain Design Ltd to create a green infrastructure project for DC Water in Washington DC. Stacy has worked with the Philadelphia Water Department and Pennsylvania Horticultural society on two stormwater projects in Philadelphia, and co-designed the Acid Mine Drainage and Art project in Vintondale PA which processes AMD from a mine in Southwestern PA. Stacy has done water-based projects around the US and in Japan and Scotland.

2014: Landscapes of Power
Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry
Regenerative Infrastructures

Elizabeth Monoian and Robert FerryRobert Ferry & Elizabeth Monoian are the founders of the Land Art Generator Initiative, and partners in the design firm StudiedImpact.

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) aims to design and construct public art installations that have the added benefit of utility-scale clean energy generation.

LAGI presents the power plant as public artwork, simultaneously enhancing the environment, increasing livability, providing a venue for learning, and stimulating local economic development. By nature of their functional utility, LAGI designs combine overlapping disciplines from architecture and urban design to mechanical engineering and environmental science. This interdisciplinary result has the effect of both enhancing the level of innovation and broadening the audience for the work.

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2013: Out of the Woods
Timothy Egan
The Big Burn

Timothy EganTimothy Egan is an American author who, for 18 years, was the Pacific Northwest correspondent and national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is a National Book Award winner for The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl and contributed to a series entitled How Race is Lived in America that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He has written seven books, including The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & The Fire That Saved America. This historical account of the largest forest fire in recorded American history that burned a combined 3 million acres in just two days across eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, also interweaves the related political actions and outcomes. Only five years after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt had created the National Forest Service and National Forest Reserves, the massive 1910 fire ultimately reversed unfavorable public and legislative views of the fledgling agency and changed fire policy.

Egan examines not only the scope of the devastation during an evolving time in Western settlement life and culture, but also the overlaying governmental role in early timber- and forest-management policy. From the complications of evacuating myriad small towns to the difficulty of implementing unproven logistics and untrained crews to fight the fire, Egan takes readers through this pivotal event in America’s ecological policy history.

The second-annual Fuller Lecture is presented by the University of Oregon Department of Landscape Architecture through the generous support of the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes, Sue Langfitt Fuller BS '71 and Mortimer B. Fuller, III.

2012: Sustenance
Thomas Woltz, FASLA
Sustenance by Design

Thomas Woltz is a principal at the landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Conservation Agriculture Studio within NBW. This family of projects shares information and seeks to interweave sustainable agriculture with best management practices for conservation of wildlife, indigenous plants, soil and water. Currently, the studio is dealing with more than 10,000 acres of cultivated land in Virginia, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Connecticut, New York, and New Zealand. Thomas serves on the Board of Directors of The Cultural Landscape Foundation and has been named to the ASLA Council of Fellows.

Woltz has led designs of a broad range of institutional, and corporate projects in the US and abroad including The Peggy Guggenheim Sculpture Garden in Venice, Italy, Luckstone Corporation in Richmond, VA, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, The McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in Round Hill, Jamaica, and The National Arboretum of New Zealand, Eastwoodhill Arboretum.Woltz has also led design work on private gardens and farmland in a dozen states and New Zealand over 20 years of practice.

Woltz holds Master’s degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. Prior to graduate studies, he worked for five years in Venice, Italy where he developed an intense interest in architectural craft that continues to influence his design work.

About the Fuller Center

The Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes is a living laboratory for exploring the role of place in cultural sustainability. Guided by a team of scholars, students explore landscapes—agricultural, designed, and vernacular—through the arts and humanities, and investigate the ongoing stewardship of landscapes and culture.

Our goal is to deepen students’ understanding of the role landscape plays in sustaining culture—literally, through agriculture, and more broadly, through inspiring the arts and grounding cultural identities.

In 1902, Edward and Helen Fuller took the first step toward creating a unique summer estate in North Abington Township. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and others joined them in this worthy placemaking endeavor. Over the years, dedicated stewards—along with time, geology, and ecology—have continued to shape Overlook Field School.

Edward’s only child, Mortimer B. Fuller, inherited the estate in 1911. He expanded the property, structures and amenities and made it a year-round residence. He died in 1931. From then until 1964 his wife, Kathryn lived in the “big house” surrounded by her three sons and their families all of whom lived in homes on the estate. The property was maintained intact during that time and was a self-sustaining farm during WWII. After Kathryn Fuller died the property was divided among her sons and fell into disrepair.

Mortimer B Fuller, Jr. (1907-1989) spent his childhood exploring the property, where he developed a keen interest in wildlife. This evolved into a passion for hunting and fishing. It also led to a deep commitment to conservation. Fuller’s efforts to restore the threatened nesting grounds of pink flamingos in the Netherlands Antilles were highly successful, and recognized worldwide. This legacy of conservation has continued to the next generation, with Overlook serving as a boundless source of inspiration. After Mortimer Jr.’s death, his wife, Frances Acker Fuller, began buying back portions of the property from relatives. Mortimer Fuller III and Sue Fuller, a 1971 University of Oregon graduate, have continued this legacy of stewardship by repurchasing property to reassemble the core of the estate. Along with Mort’s sisters, Pat and Fay, their family foundation established by their mother, Frances, supports local conservation efforts.

The Fuller Center brings students to Overlook to study the geology, ecology, history and use of the land, and to explore the productive potential of similar landscapes. And the Center brings international experts from the leading edge of landscape sustainability to Eugene for lectures and seminars.

Many estates of this size and caliber have been divided up and sold off. Overlook provides a unique setting for immersive, reflective study of cultural marks on the land, and the land’s mark on our psyche. The fields, woods, and lake are a part of this mark. So are the roads and rails. The surrounding mountains, Appalachian Plateau, and glacial moraines weave a complex geological tapestry. Together, these elements provide both text and canvas to scholars and artists.

Overlook is an ideal site to study the trajectories of landscapes—their historic development and stewardship of them into the future. Understanding these trajectories requires historical, ecological, and social analysis.

The Fuller Center is where this understanding begins.

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