We generate knowledge, media, design and strategy related to pressing territorial challenges that are material, ecological, social, and often political in scope. Conceived as part-laboratory and part-workshop, OPSYS 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.
Combining knowledge from the earth, engineering and economic sciences, we collaborate with small, nimble, entrepreneurial individuals, as much as with large, creative institutions. Our experience includes collaborations with government agencies, resource industries, regional authorities, professional organizations, universities, construction corporations, engineering consortiums, and non-profit organizations. For each project, we work with a team of interdisciplinary specialists in the engineering of ecological systems and design of urban ecologies, with an eye towards the establishment of vibrant, vivid, and verdant environments, that are seasoned by geographic thinking, and soft material intelligence, with a commitment to the cultivation of strong, social agency.
Conceived in 2001, OPSYS initiates and coordinates a portfolio of projects funded by a range of public/private partnerships with collaborators and funders that include the Boston Society of Architects, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Royal Bank of Canada, Landscape Architecture Foundation, The Walrus, Transport Canada, Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Cadillac Fairview Corporation, Waste Management Inc., the City of Toronto, the Charles River Conservancy, Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation.
OPSYS is directed by Pierre Bélanger, a registered landscape architect and urban planner in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands. As an Associate Professor, he currently teaches graduate and postgraduate courses at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design where his academic research and public work focus on the convergence of ecology and infrastructure in the interrelated fields of planning, design and engineering.
In addition to the recent publication of Pamphlet Architecture 35, Going Live: From States to Systems, forthcoming titles in 2016 include two volumes on ecology, infrastructure, and power, Ecologies of Power: Countermapping the Military Geographies & the Logistical Landscapes of the U.S. Department of Defense (MIT Press, with Alexander S. Arroyo) and Landscape as Infrastructure: A Base Primer (Taylor & Francis). Bélanger recently guest edited the 39th issue of Harvard Design Magazine “Wet Matter,” and his work has been recognized by professional associations and scholars worldwide with publications in Journal of Landscape Architecture, Ecological Urbanism, New Geographies, Landscape Journal, Topos, The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Geoinformatics, Journal of Tunneling and Underground Space Technology, Trash, Food, and Canadian Architect. Recent writings on urbanization include “Is Landscape Infrastruture” (2015), “The Other 71 Percent” (2014), “Ecology 5.0” (2014), “Landscape Infrastructure: Urbanism Beyond Engineering” (2012), “The Agronomic Landscape” (2011), “Regionalization” (2010), “Redefining Infrastructure” (2010), “Power Perestroika” (2010), “Landscape as Infrastructure” (2009), “Landscapes of Disassembly” (2007), “Synthetic Surfaces” (2007), “Foodshed: The Cosmopolitan Infrastructure of the Ontario Food Terminal” (2007) and “Airspace: The Economy and Ecology of Landfilling in Michigan” (2006). Bélanger has received several international prizes in design and planning competitions and he is only the Landscape Architect to have received the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture, as well as the Curator’s Award for the Venice Architecture Biennale awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Current members of the design research team include Zannah Matson (Project Manager & Lead Landscape Architect), Chris Alton (Project Manager & Lead Researcher), Tiffany Dang (Publication Designer), Hernan Bianchi (Publications Coordinator), Kate Yoon (Publications & Media Researcher), Aya Abdallah & Emanuela Inneli (Exhibition Interpreters), Jinjin Zhang (Publications Coordinator), Séréna Vanbutsele & Sam Gillis (Publications Researchers), Hamed Bukhamseen (Project Designer), Sean Connelly/Mark Jongman-Sereno/Foad Vahidi (Project Designers Pamphlet Architecture), Hillary Archer (Video Producer), Alexander S. Arroyo (Project Architect, Landscape Infrastructure Lab, Landscape of Defense), Chris Bennett (Project Designer, Systems of Evacuation), Anya Domlesky (Project Researcher, Landscape Infrastructure Lab, Estuarine Urbanization), (Project Architects, Landscape Infrastructure Lab, Systems of Evacuation), Alexandra Gauzza (Project Architect, Landscape Infrastructure Lab, Estuarine Urbanization), Sara Jacobs (Project Designer, Landscape of Defense), Anne Clark Baker (Project Cartographer, Estuarine Urbanization).
Past collaborators include: Alexandra Gauzza, Danika Cooper, Martin Pavlinic, Vineet Diwadkar, Tracie Curry, Adriana Chavez, Oscar Malaspina, Einat Rosenkrantz, Elena Tudela, Xiaowei Wang, Hana Disch, Stephan Hausheer, Christina Milos, Chen Chen, Pamela Ritchot, Chris de Vries, Curtis Roth, Kimberley Garza, Kees Lokman, Luke Hegeman, Kelly Doran, Fadi Masoud, Behnaz Assadi, Hoda Matar, David Christensen, Brett Hoonaert, Andrew tenBrink, Sarah Thomas, Kimberly Garza, Erik Prince, Aisling O'Carroll, Jacqueline Urbano, Ed Zec, Maya Przybylski, Joshua Cohen, Daniel Seiders, Deborah Kenley, Daniella Bacchin and Tawab Hlimi.
Current Board of Directors include: Nina-Marie Lister, Alexander Reford, and Robert Wright.