Place Parts, Episode 18: Landscape Ghosts, with Shannon Nichol

Chuck Wolfe
2 min readMar 29, 2021

How do we unearth and rediscover landscapes which we can no longer see?

Personal and collective memories in defining a place’s culture and character have tremendous value. Notably, the built environment is not today’s focus. Instead, with Shannon Nichol, we discuss the landscape environment’s “buried” memories.

Shannon is a founding partner of Gustafson, Guthrie, and Nichol ( GGN) in Seattle. Her resume includes several national projects, including Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago, Boston’s North End Parks, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus project, and the India Basin Shoreline in San Francisco.

Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character reviews urban greening underway in Paris, studies of “secret rivers” and ghost creeks in London and San Franciso, and attention to planning at the bioregional level around the world. In the video, Shannon and I combine perspectives on such examples. We discuss situations where few visual clues remain to confirm past landscapes. She summarizes her frequent-and admirable-project role as forcing friction between former landscapes and what is yet to come.

This theme is not new to Place Parts. In chats with Tia Kansara, Katherine Loflin, and Trish Nelson, I’ve emphasized immersive, critical thinking amid changing environments. What better way to find one’s feet again after a very strange year?

Review the special “landing page” for Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character here.

Originally published at on March 29, 2021.



Chuck Wolfe

Charles R. Wolfe founded the Seeing Better Cities Group in Seattle and London to improve the conversation around how cities grow and evolve across the world.