The Ecological Design Lab is led by Professor Nina-Marie Lister at Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, to test strategies, develop evidence-based next-generation practices, and find tangible, solutions to sustainability and resilience, as we rethink, remake, reinvent and renew our relationship to nature in the city. Creative, evidence-based thinking, community-collaborative planning and informed, inspired design are composite, requisite criteria for active and informed responses to complex socio-ecological problems.

The Team

Nina-Marie Lister

Director (MCIP, RPP, Hon. ASLA)

Nina-Marie Lister is Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor in the School of Urban + Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto. From 2010-2014, she was Visiting Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Planning at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. A Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) trained in ecology, environmental science and landscape planning, she is the founding principal of PLANDFORM, a creative studio practice exploring the relationship between landscape, ecology, and urbanism. Prof. Lister’s research, teaching and practice focus on the confluence of landscape infrastructure and ecological processes within contemporary metropolitan regions, with a particular focus on resilience and adaptive systems design.

She is co-editor of Projective Ecologies (with Chris Reed, Harvard and ACTAR Press, 2014) and The Ecosystem Approach: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability (with David Waltner-Toews and the late James Kay, Columbia University Press, 2008), and author of more than 40 professional practice and scholarly publications. These include recent contributions to Is Landscape…Essays on the Identity of Landscape (Routledge 2016), Ecological Urbanism (Harvard GSD with Lars Müller Publishers 2010), and Large Parks (Princeton Architectural Press 2008, winner of the J.B. Jackson Book Prize). She was Guest Editor of the Journal of Ecological Restoration for a special issue on landscape connectivity, and is a recent contributor to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment to a special issue on climate change for the 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America.

As a member of the Ryerson Urban Water Centre, Lister contributes work on flood-friendly design and resilient water infrastructure. Her work has also been featured in many international exhibitions, including the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale in which she is a collaborator on Canada’s entry entitled EXTRACTION—a critical examination of Canada’s role as a global resource empire, featuring an installation, film and book exploring the ecologies and territories of resource extraction. Locally, Lister is curator and director of a public exhibition on wildlife, infrastructure and urbanism: XING (Re)Connecting Landscapes launched in Toronto at Evergreen Brick Works in 2013 and is now on permanent exhibit at the Toronto Zoo. In recognition of her international leadership in ecological design, Lister was awarded Honorary Membership in the American Society of Landscape Architects.

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Marta Brocki

Project Manager

Marta is a graduate of the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning program at Ryerson University where she worked as a Research Assistant and Project Coordinator at the Ecological Design Lab since 2013.

Her interests, in research and practice, centre on the implementation of green and adaptive infrastructure, specifically for enhanced landscape connectivity. Marta is co-author of “Embracing Complexity: Ecological Design for Living Landscapes” published in Oz, the Journal of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State University’s issue on Complexity and “Integrated adaptive design for wildlife movement under climate change” published in a special issue on climate change for the 100th anniversary Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

She has been closely involved with the development of the XING: (Re)Connecting Landscapes project and the creation and installation of exhibits at Evergreen Brick Works, the Royal Ontario Museum, and most recently at the Toronto Zoo.

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Brianna Aird

Research Assistant

Bria Aird is a Master’s Candidate at the Ryerson School of Urban and Regional Planning. With a background in Philosophy of Science, Bria brings a critical interest in modes of knowledge production about the natural and designed world. She has explored this interest through academic means, and in more whimsical ways: recently, she co-investigated “loose” space and urban nature through a popular Jane’s Walk and collaborative art piece.

Her current research centres on trans-disciplinary collaboration and the production of process knowledge through the CoLaboratory model. Other current research includes local governance and wastewater alternatives. Bria has a B.A. in History of Science and Technology and Environmental Science from the University of King’s College.

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Arleigh Hack

Research Assistant

Arleigh is a Masters candidate at Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. She completed her undergraduate degree in Environment and Urban Sustainability and is an experienced traveller having gallivanted, volunteered, studied and conducted research in Europe, Central America, Africa and Asia. She is an engaged volunteer and proponent of sustainability initiatives across the city and on campus as an executive member of Sustainable SURP and is member of the winning team of the Ryerson Urban Water’s Green Infrastructure Hackathon who sought to address public water literacy, and resilient stormwater management in Toronto. Her interests centre on landscape scale habitat connectivity, urban resilience and adaptation, and as a near anthropology major, human culture and quality of life at home and abroad. She is curious about how these topics intersect in the realm of urban planning and how they can work together to create more sustainable cities and societies.

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Vincent Racine

Research Assistant (2016-17)

Vincent Racine is a Masters candidate in Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning graduate program and a research assistant for the Ecological Design Lab. He is currently undergoing a literature review of all major urban cities with waterways, looking at the intersection between green and blue infrastructure from a design and policy standpoint. Vincent’s previous research experience includes sustainable practices and active transportation. He is the co-author of “An Evaluation of oil spill responses for offshore oil production projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: Implications for seabird conservation“, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. Within the realm of design and urban planning, he is interested in landscape connectivity in dense waterfront cities, specifically looking at acquisition and private-public partnerships. Born and raised in Montreal, Vincent holds a B.Sc in Environmental Sciences from McGill University.

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Adam Harrison

Research Assistant (2015-16)


educates and engages the public to make our shared landscape heritage more visible, identify its value, and empower its stewards.
is an interdisciplinary partnership working to facilitate new thinking, new methods, new materials and new solutions for wildlife crossing structures.
is a living centre for education and science, committed to inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.
works to ensure that the Living City is built on a natural foundation of healthy rivers and shorelines, greenspace, biodiversity, and sustainable communities.
envisions the design of open-ended, fluid ecological systems as the basis for adaptable, flexible and organic infrastructures, across a multitude of scales, that support and promote contemporary urban life.
moves sustainable city building ideas into action through research, design and collaboration.
is the largest city in Canada and has consistently been a leader in environmental policies and initiatives.
has the largest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America and is a leader in municipal sustainability and resilience.
empowers landowners, governments and other interested organizations to find sustainable, lasting solutions to environmental problems.
is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-focused education and a university clearly on the move.
is one of Canada’s most distinguished landscape architecture and urban design firms.
is a popular tourist destination in Ontario with a prominent agricultural tradition.
is one of Ontario’s most vibrant municipalities that has emerged as leader in responsible growth and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.
specializes in cultural planning and mapping. It helps communities tell the stories that need to be heard, through good research, strategic analysis, and beautiful maps.
is a province-wide, cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming.