ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
10-485, 77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
617-452-2602
spirn@mit.edu

 

Education
Employment
Honors and Awards
Boards and Committees
Publications
Exhibitions
Interviews and Documentaries
Reviews
Professional Activities
Lectures
Courses
Bio

 


EDUCATION

 

1965-1969 Radcliffe College, Harvard University, A.B. 1969 cum laude
1969-1970 University of Pennsylvania, Department of Art History
1970-1974 University of Pennsylvania, M.L.A. 1974



EMPLOYMENT


2000- Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Departments of Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
1986-2000 Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania
1996-2000 Co-Director, Urban Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania
1986-1993 Chairman, Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
1984-1986 Director, Landscape Architecture Program, Harvard University
1983-1986 Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University
1979- 1983 Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University
1977- 1978 Roy Mann Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1973-1977 Wallace McHarg Roberts & Todd, Philadelphia


SELECTED HONORS AND AWARDS


2007-2008 Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
2004-2005 Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for American History, Harvard University
2004 Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects
2004 Community Service Award, American Society of Landscape Architects, for the West Philadelphia Landscape Project
2002 National Design Award, Finalist
2001 International Cosmos Prize
1999 Model Project, Imagining America White House Conference, Washington, DC
1998 Person of the Month, Philadelphia School District
1996 International Architecture Book Award, American Institute of Architects
1995-1996 Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC
1994 Guest Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC
1994 Fellow, University of California, Humanities Research Institute
1990-1991 Project Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts
1989 Ozzie Award for Excellence in Design
1988 Ethel Chettle Distinguished Fellow, University of Sydney, Australia
1985 1986 Noyes Fellowship, Bunting Institute
1984 President's Award of Excellence, American Society of Landscape Architects
1981 Project Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts
1978 1979 Bunting Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study


SELECTED BOARDS AND COMMITTEES

2003- Editorial Board, Landscape Journal
2002-2005 International Advisory Committee for Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan
2000- Editorial Advisory Board for series, Under the Sign of Nature: Explorations in Ecocriticism, University of Virginia Press
1998- National Register of Peer Professionals, U.S. General Services Administration
1992-2002 Board of Directors, Fairmount Park Art Association
1995-1998 Chairman, Advisory Council, Territorial Development Service, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris
1998 Advisory Board, AStoried Land," a series produced by Wisconsin Public Radio
1997 External Review Committee, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1995-1996 Selection Committee, Fulbright Fellowships
1993 Force on Future Site Character, Comprehensive Design Plan for the White House Task
1993 Panel of Experts, OECD Program on The Ecological City
1992 Chairman, Panel of Experts, OECD Conference on the Economic, Social, and Environmental Problems of Cities
1991 Overview Panel, National Endowment for the Arts, Design Arts Program
1988-1990 Art Commission, City of Philadelphia
1988-1989 Fine Arts Committee, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority
1984-1988 Editorial Policy Board, Landscape Architecture Magazine


PUBLICATIONS   

Books

The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (Basic Books, 1984). Published in Japanese, 1996; in Portuguese, 1995.

The Language of Landscape (Yale University Press, 1998).

C.Th. Sørensen: Landscape Modernist, by Sven-Ingvar Andersson and Steen Høyer (Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag, 2001). Translator.

The Eye Is a Door, text and color photographs, work-in-progress.

Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field (University of Chicago Press, 2008).

Top-Down/Bottom-Up: Rebuilding the Landscape of Community, work-in-progress.

Selected Chapters in Books

“One with Nature: On Landscape, Language, Empathy and Imagination, ” in Landscape Theory, edited by James Elkins and Rachel DeLue (Taylor & Francis, 2008).

“Better Air Quality at Street Level: Strategies for Urban Design.” Time-Saver Standards for Urban Design, edited by Donald Watson, Alan Plattus, and Robert Shibley. McGraw-Hill, 2003.

“Urban Ecosystems and Urban Planning.” Understanding Urban Ecosystems: A New Frontier for Science and Education, edited by Alan Berkowitz. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2002.

“One with Nature: On Landscape, Language, Empathy, and Imagination” International Cosmos Prize 2001 (Osaka, Japan: Expo 90 Foundation, 2002). In English and Japanese.

"The Authority of Nature: Conflict and Confusion in Landscape Architecture and Ecology.” Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning, edited by Kristina Hill and Bart Johnson. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001.

"Ian McHarg, Landscape Architecture, and Environmentalism: Ideas and Methods in Context.” Environmentalism and Landscape Architecture, edited by Michel Conan. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2000.

“Rebuilding Urban Communities and Restoring Natural Environments.” Planning for the New Century, edited by Jonathon Barnett. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001.

“Reclaiming Common Ground: Water, Neighborhoods, and Public Spaces.” The American Planning Tradition: Culture and Policy, edited by Robert Fishman. Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD: Woodrow Wilson Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

“Frank Lloyd Wright: Architect of Landscape.” Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American Landscape, 1922-1932, edited by David De Long. New York: Abrams, 1996. Awarded the International Architecture Book Award by the American Institute of Architects.

“Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted.” In Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, edited by William Cronon. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.

“Texts, Landscapes, and Life.” Sven-Ingvar Andersson, edited by Steen Høyer. Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag, 1994.

"Deep Structure: On Process, Form, and Design in the Urban Landscape.” City and Nature. Odense, DK: Odense University Press, 1993.


Selected Articles

"The Conquest of Arid America,” Topos: International Journal of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design 59 (2007): 58-66.

"Restoring Mill Creek: Landscape Literacy, Environmental Justice, and City Planning and Design, Landscape Research 30:5 (July 2005): 359-377.

"The City as a Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design," Illume (Summer 2002). In Japanese.

"De taal van het landschap," Blauwe Kamer (June 1998), 28-40. In Dutch.

"Deep Structure: Über Entwicklung, Form und Gestaltung in der Stadtlandschaft," Praxis Geschichte 11:4 (July 1997): 52-55. In German.

"Reclaiming Territory: Four Books on Landscape." Progressive Architecture (February 1993).

"Seeing/Making the Landscape Whole." Progressive Architecture (August 1991).

"Architecture and Landscape: Toward a Unified Vision." Landscape Architecture (August 1990).

"From Uluru to Cooper's Place: Patterns in the Cultural Landscape." Orion (Spring 1990).

"The Poetics of City and Nature." Places 6:1 (Fall 1989): 82-93.

"The Poetics of City and Nature: Toward a New Aesthetic For Urban Design." Landscape Journal (Fall 1988).

"Landscape Planning and the City." Landscape and Urban Planning 13 (1986): 433 441.

"Urban Nature and Human Design: Renewing the Great Tradition." Journal of Planning Education and Research (Fall 1985).

"Composition urbaine et forces naturelles." Metropolis 66 (1985): 56 60.


Selected Monographs

The West Philadelphia Digital Database: An Atlas and Guide (with Robert Cheetham). Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l996.

The West Philadelphia Landscape Plan: A Framework for Action. Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l991.

Models of Success: Landscape Improvement and Community Development (with Daniel Marcucci). Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l991.

Shaping the Block (with Mark Campbell and Michele Pollio). Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l991.

Vacant Land: A Resource for Reshaping Urban Neighborhoods (with Michele Pollio). Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l991.

“This Garden is a Town” (with Michele Pollio). Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, l990.

Air Quality at Street Level: Strategies for Urban Design. Prepared for Boston Redevelopment Authority. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Graduate School of Design, 1986.

Plants for Passive Cooling, co-author with Adele Naude Santos. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Graduate School of Design, 1981.

Environmental Resources of the Toronto Central Waterfront, co-author with Narendra Juneja. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wallace McHarg Roberts & Todd, 1976.

Pardisan: An Environmental Park, co-author with Ian McHarg, Narendra Juneja, and W. Robinson Fisher. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wallace McHarg Roberts & Todd, 1975.

Woodlands New Community: Guidelines for Site Planning. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wallace McHarg Roberts & Todd, 1973.


Digital Publications

“Knowing Where to Stand,” ongoing exhibit of photographs and digital essays since 2003.

"You Just Don't Leave Family," a story about the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, 2002.

The West Philadelphia Landscape Project online since spring 1996.


SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

Looking at Landscape: Environmental Puzzles from Three Photographers, Harvard Museum of Natural History, 2006-2007. Hall of Science, New York City, 2007.

Knowing Where to Stand, Compton Gallery, MIT Museum, 2003-2004. Vassar College, 2004.

Anne Whiston Spirn: Landscapes, Aucocisco Gallery, Portland, Maine, April 3-27, 2002.

Anne Whiston Spirn, Photographs, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, October 20-December 3, 2000.


SELECTED INTERVIEWS AND DOCUMENTARIES

"Urban Nature and City Design: Anne Whiston Spirn Talks with Kazuhiko Takeuchi," Science Journal Kagaku 72:5 (May 2002), 518-529. In Japanese.

"Building the Urban Landscape: Anne Whiston Spirn Talks with Hubert Murray," Architecture Boston, Fall 2001, 43 47.

Michigan Public Radio, "The Language of Landscape and the West Philadelphia Landscape Project," Todd Mundt Show, July 2000.

Public Radio International, "The Language of Landscape," Dialogue, December 1999.

National Public Radio, "Buried Rivers," Radio Times, August 1999.

"Landscape Literacy and the Empowerment of Inner-City Youth: The West Philadelphia Landscape Project," Free Associations, June 1999 on WHPK (University of Chicago) and WZRD (Northeastern Illinois University).

Wisconsin Public Radio, "The West Philadelphia Landscape Project and the Language of Landscape," To the Best of Our Knowledge, January 1999.

Half-hour feature on my work at Sulzberger Middle School, Philadelphia School District Cable TV Station, aired daily throughout November 1998.

Michigan Public Radio, "The West Philadelphia Landscape Project," March 1998.

"Frank Lloyd Wright," film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, aired on PBS in November 1998.

Wisconsin Public Radio, "Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted," To the Best of Our Knowledge, May 1997.

Public Radio International, "The Granite Garden," Dialogue, January 16, 1995.

National Public Radio, "The West Philadelphia Landscape Plan," Living on Earth, 1993.


SELECTED REVIEWS

Benjamin McCloskey, “Mill Creek: West Philadelphia Students Uncover the Life of Their Urban Watershed,” New Village: Building Sustainable Cultures 3 (2002): 24-25.

International Cosmos Prize 2001 (Osaka, Japan: Expo 90 Foundation, 2002).

Paul Bennett, "Landscape Organism: The West Philadelphia Landscape Project," Landscape Architecture (March 2000): 66 71, 82.

Keiko Takayama, "The West Philadelphia Landscape Project," Bio-City 17 (November 1999): 57-67. In Japanese.

Paul Bennett, "The Language of Landscape," Landscape Architecture (May 1999).

Campbell, Glenn, "Learning Gets Real With Service." Philadelphia Daily News, May 7, 1998.

Knack, Ruth. "Dig These Gardens." Planning 60:7 (July 1994): 20-24.

Hine, Thomas. "Surroundings: A Long-Buried Creek in West Philadelphia." Philadelphia Sunday Inquirer. November 15, 1992.

Thompson, William. "A Natural Legacy: Ian McHarg and His Followers." Planning (Nov.1991).

Curwood, Steve. "Profile: Shaping the City to Nature's Laws." Boston Globe, May 26, 1985.

Francis, Mark. "The Granite Garden." J. of Arch. and Planning Research (1985).

Rainey, Reuben. "The Granite Garden." Design Book Review 6 (Winter 1985).

Lang, Jon. "The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design." Journal of Planning Education and Research 5 (Autumn 1985).

Saunders, Ralph A. "The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 75 (March 1985).

Odum, Eugene. "The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design." Landscape Journal 3 (Fall 1984).

ASLA Awards Panel. Landscape Architecture 74:5 (1984).

Powledge, Fred. "The Greening of American Cities." Washington Post Book World. April 1, 1984.

Kaplan, Sam Hall. "A Plan for Peaceful Urban Coexistence." Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 25, 1984.

Bender, Richard. "Making the Metropolis Green." New York Times Book Review, January 22, 1984.


PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Memberships

American Society of Landscape Architects
American Planning Association
American Society of Environmental Historians
Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment


PEER REVIEWS

General Services Administration, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Fulbright Fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation, Yale University Press, MIT Press, University of California Press, Wesleyan University Press, Basic Books, Landscape Journal, Landscape and Urban Planning, Environmental Review, Bunting Institute.

Awards Juries

U.S. General Services Administration Design Awards; Bruner Awards; James Ritchie Award; Minnesota State Capitol Design Competition; New Orleans Arboretum Design Competition; Hillside Housing Design Competition, Cincinnati; ASLA Awards

Conferences

Chair, American Collegiate Schools of Architecture Teachers' Workshop, “Architecture and Landscape: A Dialogue” 1990

Professional Registration

1979 Registered Landscape Architect, Commonwealth of Massachusetts


SELECTED LECTURES

International

Cosmos Prize Lecture, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; International Federation of Landscape Architects, Florence, Italy; Conference on the Future of Senri New Town, Japan; Doorenbos Lecture, The Hague, Netherlands; World Park Conference, Nagoya, Japan; Conference on Landscape of Urban Parks, Osaka, Japan; Symposium on Virtual Nature, University of Odense, Denmark; Symposium on Ordering the Human-Built World, Berlin Verbund for Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin; Symposium on the Ecological City, OECD, Paris; Conference on the Social, Economic, and Environmental Future of Cities, OECD, Paris; Symposium on City and Nature, University of Odense; Symposium on Global Environment and the City, Osaka; City Planning Association, Tokyo; World Conference on Landscape Planning, Hannover, Germany; International Symposium on the Urban Landscape, Ljubljana, Slovenia; International Union of Architects/Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Sydney; Congres Mondiale des Cités Unies, Montreal, Canada; Green Cities Conference, Liverpool, England.


Universities: Architects' Association, London; Royal Danish Academy of Art; Danish Agricultural University; Swedish Agricultural University; Helsinki Technical University, Finland; University of Aarhus, Denmark; University of Sydney, Australia; University of New South Wales, Australia; Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia; Technical University of Delft, Netherlands; Wageningen Agricultural University, Netherlands.

National

Keynote Lectures and Plenary Talks: International Association of Landscape Ecologists, Tempe, Arizona; American Society of Landscape Architects Centennial Conference, Boston, Massachusetts; Cary Conference, Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Conference on Environmental Quality for Public Officials, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Society of Soil and Water Conservation Annual Meeting, Lexington, Kentucky; ACSA Teachers' Workshop, Cranbrook Academy of Art; Conference on Ecology and Planning, University of California, Davis; Xeriscape Conference, Sacramento, California; Conference on Urban Air Pollution, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Leadership Meeting on Urban Ecology, Denver, Colorado.

Invited Lectures and Papers: Association for the Study of Literature and Environment; “Inventing for the Environment” Symposium, Smithsonian Institute; Symposium on AHuman Valuation of the Environment,” Princeton University; American Historical Association Annual Meeting; Symposium on "Crossing Boundaries,” University of Oregon; American Society of Environmental History Annual Meeting; Dumbarton Oaks Symposium on "Nature and Ideology"; Chair, Panel on Environment and Cities, American Planning Association Annual Meeting; Dumbarton Oaks Roundtable on Environmental Ethics; Public Art in America Conference; American Academy of Arts and Sciences Symposium on “Meanings of the City.”

American Universities

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Harvard University; Yale University; University of Chicago; University of Michigan; Stanford University; University of California-Berkeley; University of California-Los Angeles; University of California-Davis; University of Wisconsin; University of Pennsylvania; Cornell University; Arizona State University; University of Georgia; University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana; Parsons School of Design; University of Miami; University of Virginia; University of New Mexico; Ohio State University; University of Washington; Washington University; University of Tennessee; SUNY-Buffalo; SUNY-Syracuse; University of Oregon; University of Massachusetts; Catholic University; University of Missouri- St. Louis; Vassar College; Smith College; Boston College Law School; Tulane University.


COURSES

MIT (2000- )

Sites in Sight: Photographing the Urban Landscape
Media Technology and City Design and Development
Urban Nature and City Design
The City

University of Pennsylvania (1986-2000)

Transforming the Urban Landscape Studio
Photographing Landscape
The City
Power of Place: Introduction to Urban Environmental Design
City and Nature: Process, Purpose, and Form
Topics in Landscape Design Theory
Theory I: Landscape and Nature
The Language of Landscape
The Designed Landscape: Form and Meaning
Poetics of Landscape


Harvard University (1979-1986)

Advanced Landscape Design Studio
Advanced Urban Planning and Design Studio
Urban Open Space Design Studio
Intermediate Landscape Design Studio
The Designed Landscape: Form and Meaning
City and Nature: Process, Purpose, and Form
Plants and Design


BIO

Anne Whiston Spirn is an author, photographer, landscape architect, and planner. Her books include the award-winning The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (1984), The Language of Landscape (1998), and Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field (2008). She currently is finishing The Eye Is a Door, a book on photography and the art of seeing. “Knowing Where to Stand,” an exhibit of her photographs was on view at the MIT Museum in 2003-2004 and traveled to Vassar College in 2004. Since 1984 Spirn has worked on ecological planning and community design and development in inner-city neighborhoods. She directs the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, an internationally-recognized program that has integrated teaching, research, and community service since 1987. Her next book project grows out of this experience: Top-Down/Bottom-Up: Rebuilding the Landscape of Community.

Spirn is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT, where she is a member of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Department of Architecture. She has taught at Harvard and at the University of Pennsylvania, where she chaired the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Prior to teaching, Spirn worked at Wallace McHarg Roberts and Todd on diverse projects, including plans for Woodlands New Community in Houston, the Toronto Central Waterfront, and a comprehensive plan for Sanibel, Florida. She received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, where she majored in art history, and the master's of landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2001, Spirn was awarded the International Cosmos Prize for “contributions to the harmonious coexistence of nature and humankind.”