MARGOT LYSTRA




Historian/theorist of landscape and the environment. Teacher/designer of landscape architecture. Assistant professor at Université de Montréal. Mover, maker, writer.



Envisioning environment
Sensing and showing climate change
Designing with
All



bio + cv
the marge (Substack)
unruly earths (Instagram)
email






Envisioning environments    (2013-present)



Envisioning environment  

Historical //
cities
infrastructures landscapes

(2013-present)



Environmental reckoning, infrastructural planning, justice activism, leaps in scalar perception. The current moment is unprecedented in its magnitude; but at smaller scales these things have entangled before.

From the postwar years through the 1960s, U.S. freeway plans and the ensuing urban “freeway revolts” catalyzed a public reckoning regarding the structures and natures of cities. My multi-city, multi-scalar book project, Envisioning Environment: The Landscape Imaginaries of Urban US Freeways, 1956-1968, investigates local histories underlying several well-known late modernist freeway design projects: revealing how designer visions of urban freeways collided and coincided with activist actions and government agendas to precipitate new urban visions, forms of political action, and conceptions of environmental justice.

This work speaks to designers, historians, and environmentalists alike, articulating how visualization, new infrastructures, and public power are mobilized in times of environmental conflict and change.


Image from "Both Freeway Plans Rejected by Board," March 22, 1966, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Ephemera Collection, San Francisco History Center of the San Francisco Public Library.
Supported by:
Clarence Stein Institute for Urban and Landscape Studies
Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies Program
Institute for Social Sciences, Cornell University
Robert D. MacDougall Traveling Scholarship, Cornell University
A. Henry Detweiller Traveling Fellowship, Cornell University

Diagram of "Existing Transportation Systems," Christopher Alexander and Marvin L. Manheim, The Use of Diagrams in Highway Route Location: An Experiment (School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass, 1962), 7.

Works... 

presentation
Between Eviction and Revolt: Situating The View from the Road,” Mobility and Access in Modern Urban Landscapes, session chair Pollyanna Rhee. SAH Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA (upcoming, April 2022).

dissertation
“Envisioning Environments: Designs for U.S. Urban Freeways, 1958-1967,” Cornell University, 2017.

article
“Drawing Natures: US Freeway Controversies, Representational Techniques, and the Rise of Ecological Design,” Journal of Design History 30.2 (2017), 157-174.


media
Quoted in: Caroline Tracey, “Redlining Returns to Denver, but with a Neoliberal Twist,” The Nation, July 31, 2017.


presentation
“Urban Design, Local Culture, and Emergent Environmentalism: The San Francisco Panhandle Freeway Debates, 1959-1966,” Across the Great Divide California Design Colloquium, convened by Marc Treib, Greg Castillo, Andrew Shanken, and Waverly Lowell. University of California, Berkeley (March 2016).

media
Quoted in:
Nate Berg, “Take the Parkway to the Freeway to the Automated Roadway,” Boom: a Journal of California, 6.1 (2016).

presentation
“Drawing Natures: US Freeway Controversies, Representational Techniques, and the Rise of Environmental Design,” Environmental Histories of Design Workshop, convened by Kjetil Fallan and Finn Arne Jacobsen. Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany (June 2015).

presentation
“Drawing the Hybrid Freeway: Urban Design and Non/Human Relationship,” Frontiers in Urban Landscape Research Workshop, convened by Thaisa Way and John Beardsley. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC (November 2015).






Protesters at ‘Save the Park’ rally, May 17, 1964. San Francisco Examiner Photograph Collection, Bancroft Library Special Collections, University of California Berkeley.

Layered relief model based on calculations of highway cost per square foot. Paul O. Roberts, “Using New Methods in Highway Location,” Photogrammetric Engineering 23:3 (1957), 567.

View from the ground of Embarcadero Freeway interchange, circa 1969, San Francisco, CA. https://www.guidigo.com/Web/Urban-Transitions-A-San-Francisco-History-Tour/RRoVwhjd4J8/Stop/8/Embarcadero-Freeway#images