American Roundtable: Dynamic Landscapes, South Beach, Washington

Editors Robert Hutchison and Daniel Abramson, and contributors Gregory Hicks, Eirik Johnson, Cory Mattheis, Skip Swenson, and Barbara Swift present the report Dynamic Landscapes and discuss key themes and findings.

February 26, 2021
12:00 p.m.

View across Half Moon Bay towards Westport, Washington. Credit: Eirik Johnson

American Roundtable is an Architectural League initiative bringing together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

South Beach, Washington, is doubly subject to the forces of water and wind, situated on the most rapidly changing part of the Pacific coastline of the United States and at risk for a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami event. It is also an area of exceptionally rich ecology, including productive fisheries and timber lands. How has this community been formed by this unique environment and learned to live in this dynamic landscape? In this era of climate change, what might other communities learn from South Beach as it continues to adapt to nature’s power? 

Join editors Robert Hutchison and Daniel Abramson, and contributors Gregory Hicks (professor of law), Eirik Johnson (photographer), Cory Mattheis (architect), Skip Swenson (policymaker), and Barbara Swift (landscape architect), as they share findings and highlights from their American Roundtable report Dynamic Landscapes. Their informal presentation will be followed by discussion on some of the report’s key ideas and provocations with American Roundtable Project Director Nicholas Anderson and League Executive Director Rosalie Genevro.

Read the full Dynamic Landscapes report on South Beach, Washington.

Learn more about the American Roundtable Initiative.

Robert Hutchison is a practitioner, researcher, and educator whose interests and practice overlap the fields of architecture, installation, and photography. Hutchison is principal of Robert Hutchison Architecture, and an affiliate associate professor in the University of Washington Department of Architecture. Since March 2019, when he traveled to the Sendai region of Japan as a UW Runstad Real Estate Fellow to study the topic of earthquake and tsunami resiliency, Hutchison has been researching the state of emergency preparedness for communities along the Pacific coast of Washington state that are subject to tsunami inundation.

Daniel Abramson is an associate professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Urban Design and Planning. His research focuses on community resilience and adaptive planning in disaster recovery and hazard mitigation, and he has taught multidisciplinary studios integrated with scientific research on new protocols for state agencies and communities to envision hazards-resilient development on the Washington coast. This work first brought Abramson to South Beach, where he continues to work closely with the community on research around coastal hazards risk and adaptation.

Gregory Hicks is a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, where he teaches courses in property, water law, and public land and natural resources law.

Eirik Johnson is a Seattle-based photographer. His photographic documentation Sawdust Mountain (Aperture, 2009) addresses the complicated relationship between the Olympic Peninsula region’s landscape, the industries that rely upon natural resources, and the communities they support.

Cory Mattheis is an architect and an associate at The Miller/ Hull Partnership, where he has served as lead designer on governmental, public, infrastructural, and residential projects. He has collaborated with Robert Hutchison on several conceptual projects that investigate the relationship of infrastructure and typology to urban and rural conditions.

Skip Swenson is vice president of policy and programming at Forterra, a Washington-based nonprofit focused on land use and regional sustainability. Swenson works on the policies, tools, and programs necessary to achieve expansive growth management and community development goals throughout the central Cascades and Olympic Peninsula regions of Washington State.

Barbara Swift is a landscape architect and urban planner who leads the Seattle-based Swift Company. Her work investigates the relationship between place and ecology.