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In today’s age of climate change, the legacy of late Penn Professor Ian L. McHarg (1920-2001) is perhaps more palpable than ever before. His 1969 book, Design With Nature, transformed contemporary thinking about relationships between modern architecture and the earth’s changing environments, and helped shepherd the adoption of important environmental regulations in the following decade.

Now, 50 years later, climate change is fundamentally altering the world around us, sometimes in irreparable ways. Recognizing the urgency for action, the Stuart Weitzman School of Design inaugurated the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology this June. This new center for education and research will build on the School’s position as a global leader in urban ecological design, and advance the development of “practical, innovative ways of improving the quality of life in the places most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”

A rich array of unique programming accompanying the Center’s opening has taken shape under the updated moniker, “Design With Nature Now”—including:

  • A two-day conference at Penn on June 21-22, highlighting novel approaches to contemporary landscape design and featuring more than two dozen speakers from across the U.S. and beyond
  • The opening of a series of public exhibitions on campus, exploring the work of McHarg and other environmentally conscientious designers
  • The upcoming publication of a new book, titled Design With Nature Now, featuring essays written by many of the conference’s participants

“The ‘now’ means that there’s hope, there’s hope for the planet,” Steiner says. “We can address serious issues like climate change and the loss of biodiversity and growing cities, and that there’s hope for the next generation.”

As the planet continues to change, the McHarg Center’s impact will continue to grow. Early financial support for this new Center has enabled the creation of the School’s first endowed directorship, a dual degree fund providing student financial assistance, and other vital resources. Further backing from friends, supporters, and alumni will help to position the McHarg Center as a permanent fixture in the study of landscape design in the decades to come.



JULY 19, 2019