Lecture: Anne Spirn, "Restoring Nature, Rebuilding Community: the West Philadelphia Landscape Project as a Model for Action Research"
Anne Whiston Spirn is an award-winning author, photographer, teacher, and practitioner and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT. She is credited with playing a seminal role in applying theories and principles of ecological landscape design to urban areas. Her path-breaking scholarly research and writing applies ecological principles to urban settings. Since 1987, she has directed the West Philadelphia Landscape Project (WPLP), in an inner city community near the University of Pennsylvania. The WPLP links landscape design, community development, and urban stormwater management through an action research program integrating research, teaching and community service. Its goals include development of strategic landscape plans to enhance environmental quality, implementation of landscape improvements to stimulate economic development, and mutual strengthening of public school curricula and undergraduate and professional education.
Spirn’s books include The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (1984),The Language of Landscape (1998), Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports from the Field (2008), and The Eye Is a Door: Landscape, Photography, and the Art of Discovery (2014). Her book-in-progress, Top-Down/Bottom-Up: Restoring Nature and Rebuilding Community, for which she received a Guggenheim fellowship, describes this research-in-action and its lessons for building safer, healthier, and more equitable and sustainable communities. In 2001, Spirn was awarded Japan’s International Cosmos Prize for “contributions to the harmonious coexistence of nature and mankind.” Her homepage is a gateway to her work and activities: see www.annewhistonspirn.com.