Winter 2012: Drylands Design Conference Scheduled, March 22-24

February 21, 2012

ALI, in partnership with the California Architectural Foundation (CAF), hosts the Drylands Design Conference from March 22–24, 2012 on the Woodbury University campus in Burbank. Retrofitting the West: Adaptation by Design brings together architects, landscape architects, artists and engineers with leading environmental thinkers, scientists, and renowned conservationists to debate a range of design strategies for a water-stressed future. More than 225 educators, design professionals and students are expected at the conference where the arid and semi-arid west will be re-examined as a vast field of opportunities for water-smart design innovation at a range of scales, from building systems to infrastructure and landscape spaces. The Drylands Design Conference kicks off with an opening reception at the Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 22. On view at the museum is Drylands Design, featuring selected work from CAF’s William Turnbull Drylands Design Competition ( The exhibition showcases work by architects, landscape architects, engineers, artists, and urban designers responding to the challenges of water scarcity in the face of climate change. With a focus on the US West, the exhibition presents a portfolio of adaptive strategies large and small, rural and urban, high tech and low-carbon. Since no single solution will meet the complex needs of the US West, the exhibition explores a range of approaches for how buildings and parks, houses and streets, industry and agriculture, cities and neighborhoods might adapt to a water-stressed future. Following its run from March 22-April 26, 2012, the exhibition is scheduled to travel in the US and abroad. In an innovative cross-disciplinary collaboration, ALI and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability provided technical and policy advising to five research award winners chosen from the CAF William Turnbull Drylands Design Competition. At the conference on Friday, March 23, the five award-winning teams will present their design proposals and discuss the policy implications they suggest. Research award winners include: Meghan Storm, University of Pennsylvania; Ellen Neises, advisor Off the Reservation: A Seed for Change Gini Lee, with Brooke Madill, University of Melbourne Reinvesting the Line: Small infrastructures, micro-communities, and communication ecologies Robert Lamb, AIA; Los Angeles Silver Lake Microshed Laurel McSherry, Virginia Tech; and Robert Holmes, architectural designer Drylands Design: The Commonwealth Approach Ye Hua, USC; Alex Robinson, advisor A Colorful Walk: Salt Pool Exploration, Owens Valley These design case studies and the panel discussions they inform raise important questions about de-coupling energy and water, localizing resources, restructuring watershed governance, the scaleability of small systems, the relationship between water infrastructure and public architectures, and the role of the arts and design in shaping a working public landscape. The conference puts both young and established design leaders in dialog with thinkers from an array of disciplines, including Wiliam DeBuys, Ph.D., writer and conservationist, author of seven books, the most recent A Great Aridness; Paul Bunje, Ph.D., Managing Director, Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability, supported by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; Stephanie Pincetl, Director, Center for Sustainable Urban Systems, UCLA; James Workman, award-winning journalist and author of Heart of Dryness; and Barry Taylor, Ph.D., Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. On Saturday March 24th, design educators are invited to a workshop on interdisciplinary methods for advancing Drylands Design regionally and globally. Schools, NGOs, and design firms are encouraged to engage the conference from remote locations by subscribing to live-streaming. For a complete program, including registration and live streaming details, see: