Tracing Our Mississippi will be an interactive installation and public programming series at the site of the Columbus Pump House, on a terrace adjacent to the Flatrock River. By representing the Mississippi Watershed as a large-scale, abstracted model (composed as a set of moveable pieces), and complimented by a series of large-format drawings drawn at multiple scales, the installation emphasizes the relentless infrastructures controlling the Mississippi’s landscapes, communities, and resources. Hoeferlin’s project in Columbus and ongoing research presents the question: Is the Mississippi Watershed really a watershed anymore?

Tracing Our Mississippi answers by literally and physically engaging people in a new understanding of the vast territorial scales of the fourth largest watershed in the world. The installation and programming planned for Fall 2021 asks: What does it mean to empower all of us to question our past methods of control and power, with the hope of re-establishing new, collective understandings, in turn connecting all of us across ecological and cultural geographies? What would mean to re-trace our Mississippi?

Columbus Pump House
Harrison Albright, 1903

The Columbus Pump House was designed by Harrison Albright in 1903 as a new and improved facility on the site of the Water Works in Columbus. Five decades later, a new filtration plant was completed and the building was sold for use as a workshop, falling into disrepair shortly after. In 1973-74, artist Jean Tinguely used the building to construct the kinetic sculpture Chaos I, which included parts provided by Southern Machine, and was installed as part of the new Commons and Courthouse Center. A year later, local architect James K. Paris converted the building into a senior center, and in 2016 it was restored and redeveloped by Moravec Realty for use by the Upland Brewing Company. Today, the Pump House maintains its relationship with the city and the surrounding natural features.

Derek Hoeferlin is associate professor and chair of the landscape architecture and urban design programs at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level multidisciplinary approaches to architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and urbanism. He collaboratively researches integrated water-based design strategies across the Mississippi, Mekong, and Rhine river basins through his design-research project "Way Beyond Bigness: The Need for a Watershed Architecture," the focus of his book (Applied Research + Design Publishers, 2021). Derek is principal of [dhd] derek hoeferlin design, an award-winning architecture, landscape, and urban design practice.