Tenured Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alan Berger is Tenured Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he teaches courses in the department of urban studies and planning. He founded and directs P-REX, The Project for Reclamation Excellence (www.theprex.net), a multi-disciplinary research effort at MIT focusing on the design and reuse of waste landscapes worldwide. By using low-angle aerial photography, maps, and other graphic evidence, Berger visually reveals evidence and trends of landscape waste throughout the world—from public health hazards such as abandoned mine pits, mountains of slag, and pools of cyanide, to vacant land, landfills, military installations, and places associated with high and low-density urbanization. How these sites are cleansed, valued and designed for adaptive reuse at local and regional scales is Berger's main area of interest. His work emphasizes the link between our consumption of natural resources, and the waste and destruction of landscape, to help us better understand how to proceed with redesigning our wasteful places for future productive uses and more intelligent outcomes. He has coined the term “Drosscape” and “Systemic Design” to describe the reintegration of disvalued landscapes into our urbanized territories and regional ecologies. Berger currently serves as a design consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Brownfield and Superfund site revitalization in the American landscape.
His book Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, published in 2006, won I.D. Magazine’s 53rd Annual Design Review Silver Medal for Design Distinction, and was named a top 10 planning book of 2007 by Planetizen. His 2002 book, Reclaiming the American West, received the Research Award from the Environmental Design Research Association and Places Magazine, and was named a Colorado Book of the Year by the Center for the Book. His other books include Landscape + Urbanism Around The Bay Of Mumbai, co-edited with Rahul Mehrotra and published jointly by MIT's School of Architecture and Planning and Urban Design Research Institute (Mumbai) in 2010, and Systemic Design Can Change The World, published by SUN (Netherlands) in 2009, Designing the Reclaimed Landscape, published by Taylor & Francis in January 2008, and co-edited Nansha Coastal City: Landscape and Urbanism in the Pearl River Delta, published by Harvard University Graduate School of Design in early 2006.
Berger’s work has been published and reviewed in a multidisciplinary array of publications including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Landscape Review, AA Files, Landscape Journal, Landscape Architecture, Praxis, Landscape Review, JOLA, Dwell, Topos, Places, Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, Planning, Public Art Review, Metropolis, World Architecture, Wallpaper, Cabinet, Architecture, Cite, New York Magazine, Harvard Design Magazine, American Arts Quarterly, ArtReview, Civil Engineering, Kerb, and many others. Prior to coming to MIT he was Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard-GSD, 2002-2008, and Assistant Professor at University of Colorado at Denver, 1997-2002; he has been Distinguished Visiting Professor of Landscape Urbanism at Oslo School of Architecture in Norway, and at Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark. He was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sustainability at University of Michigan’s Taubman School of Architecture, and Visiting Professor for Landscape Urbanism at Katholike University in Leuven-Belgium. He has taught design studios at the University of Houston, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has lectured and exhibited work at institutions worldwide including: University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, University of Venice at Luav-Italy, Columbia University, Unitec-New Zealand, Ohio State University, University of Toronto, Rhode Island School of Design, University of California-Berkeley, Lincoln University in New Zealand, TU/e Technische Universiteit Eindhoven-Netherlands, University of Utah, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts, American Academy in Rome, Denmark Academy in Rome, University of Naples-Italy, and many more.
Berger earned his Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Fine Arts, where he received its highest awards for design excellence and research: the Faculty Medal and Van Alen Fellowship. He is a Prince Charitable Trusts Fellow of The American Academy in Rome. He was licensed as a landscape architect in 1992.