Virginia Hanusik is a photographer and architectural researcher whose work focuses on the connections between culture and the built environment. Her projects explore the effects of climate change through physical and social analyses of landscapes. She has worked with communities and state agencies in Louisiana and New York on climate adaptation strategies and environmental equity initiatives, and has been supported by the Graham Foundation and the Mellon Foundation for her work in architecture and photography. Her current project, A Receding Coast: The Architecture and Infrastructure of South Louisiana, chronicles the region’s history of architectural adaptation and relationship with water through a compilation of maps, historic images, and interviews, and has been exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and Humboldt University of Berlin. Virginia’s photographs and writing have been featured in Domus, The Atlantic, Places Journal, The Times-Picayune, Oxford American, NPR, Fast Company, and others. She received her BA from Bard College and was ranked as one of the 100 Most Influential Urbanists of 2017 by Planetizen. She lives in New York City where she is member of the Climate Working Group at NYU.
A Receding Coast: The Architecture and Infrastructure of South Louisiana
Louisiana is experiencing a land loss crisis more severe than any environmental disaster in the state’s history. Aerial photographs of the coast and national media coverage of the “first climate refugees” have told a piece of the story of what it means for a physical place to disappear. However, this type of exposure is one small part of a larger picture.
Particularly given the fraught political moment we all find ourselves in, this project seeks to convey a collective vision of place through architectural portraits that describe the history of building practices in Louisiana. Ultimately, this knowledge can be used to inform future design in the age of climate change. I believe the best way to do this is to combine the accessibility of visual art with academic research in climate adaptation. In doing so, the opportunity to connect Louisiana’s environmental challenges and architectural history to other communities around the world may assist in the fight against climate change.
The portfolio presented here seeks to capture the complexity and precariousness of the built environment at this moment in time and engage the viewer with daily life on the front lines of climate change. Rather than photographing scenes of disaster or aerial footage – which allow the audience to dissociate – these images present the everyday landscape.
To view more of Virginia Hanusik’s work please visit her website.