For nearly a century, a new breed of landscape infrastructure megaproject has gone unrecognized, and is now proliferating, according to the organizers of a public symposium at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design set for October 5, 2023. These projects are designed to address biodiversity loss, land degradation, and climate change while improving living conditions for the Earth’s eight billion human inhabitants. Representing trillions of dollars in potential investments, can they deliver the ecological transformation they promise?
MEGA-ECO: A Symposium on Very Large-Scale Landscape Projects brings together designers and land managers for ecological restoration megaprojects in China, Pakistan, Brazil, Africa, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the US to explore cross-border approaches to connectivity, anti-desertification, watersheds, and metropolitan development. They include representatives of the World Wildlife Fund, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, among others, who will discuss the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project (China); Forest Conservation in the Heart of the Colombian Amazon; Great Green Wall Initiative (Africa); São Paulo Greenbelt and Biosphere Reserve (Brazil); Sponge Cities Initiative (China); Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program (US); Upscaling Green Pakistan; and Yellowstone to Yukon (North America).
The program opens with a keynote talk by author Tony Hiss, co-creator of the half-earth movement (50x50) and visiting scholar at the Wagner School of Public Service, New York University.
The symposium is organized into four sessions, with presentations from each project representative followed by a discussion with expert panelists:
Panel 1: Connectivity
Panel 2: Anti-Desertification
Panel 3: Watersheds
Panel 4: Metropolitan Projects
Concluding remarks will be delivered by Matthijs Bouw, Associate Professor of Practice at the Weitzman School of Design.
MEGA-ECO is presented by The Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology and Penn Global, and is organized by Rob Levinthal, PhD candidate in the Department of City & Regional Planning, and Richard Weller, professor of landscape architecture.
MEGA-ECO builds on the 2019 publication Design With Nature Now, a re-assessment of the legacy of Ian McHarg’s landmark 1969 book Design With Nature which was co-edited by Weller along with Penn faculty members Frederick Steiner, dean and Paley Professor; Karen M’Closkey, associate professor of landscape architecture; and Billy Fleming, Wilks Family Director at The McHarg Center.
Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mega-eco-project-symposium-tickets-7087385…
The McHarg Center's Climate Policy Research Group has published Field Notes Towards an International Green New Deal. This three year digital project was produced by RAs Palak Agarwal, Selina Cheah, Yixin (April) Wei, Ian Dillon, Zane Griffin Talley Cooper, A.L. McCullough, and the Wilks Family Director, Billy Fleming. Field Notes ask what it might mean for the rest of the world if the US realizes an eco modernist vision for the energy transition.
A two part recap of the 2022 Grounding the Green New Deal Summit is featured in the ASLA's The Dirt.
“The Green New Deal Superstudio models a collective form of practice. We have a foot in the world now, but can imagine a new future,” said Kate Orff, FASLA, founder of SCAPE..."
In November 2020, the Glasgow Urban Lab at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the Weitzman School of Design at UPenn, the Landscape Institute, and the Academy of Urbanism came together to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of landscape architecture's and Scotland's pioneers of urban ecology -- Ian McHarg. A symposium was held to look at McHarg's influence, with eyes on the future.
This publication, edited by the Glasgow Urban Lab's Brian Evans and Rachel Howlett, seeks to capture some of the event's essence.
Later this year, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will meet in China to finalize what is being called a “Paris Agreement for Nature.” The agreement will outline global goals for ecosystem conservation and restoration for the next decade, which may include preserving 30 percent of lands, coastal areas, and oceans by 2030. Goals could also include restoring one-fifth of the world’s degraded ecosystems and cutting billions in subsidies that hurt the environment. What are the top three things planning and design professions can do to help local, state, and national governments worldwide achieve these goals?
The McHarg Center's Richard Weller's answer -- Design, Design, and Design!
It’s spring migration season, which means millions of birds could make their way through Philadelphia in the coming weeks. Some could get hurt or die crashing into buildings — but you can help keep them safe, just by turning out your lights.
“Everyone’s home matters,” said Keith Russell, program manager for Urban Conservation with Audubon Mid-Atlantic. “Every commercial building, industrial building, every high-rise.”
The McHarg Biodiversity research group's bird safety banners are featured on WHYY!
The McHarg Center's Richard Weller writes a critically reflects on the Green New Deal Suprtstudio in an article for the ASLA's The Dirt.
"There are two reasons why Superstudio was a good name for an event that would build on the momentum already established by Billy Fleming, ASLA, at the University of Pennsylvania, Kate Orff, FASLA, founder of SCAPE, and Thaddeus Pawlowski at Columbia University to align landscape architecture with the Green New Deal (GND). The first is that with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), back in 2020, we had all agreed to launch what was literally a supersized international design studio on the hot topic of the GND. The second reason was that Superstudio also recalls the eponymous Italian architecture group of the late 1960’s that specialized in bombastic imagery and anti-capitalist, anti-design rhetoric. This connection was, for me at least, most important because it signaled that the event we were planning was about design culture, not just political culture. The Superstudio is in this way situated as part of a certain modern tradition of speculation, which in turn provides context for the critical evaluation of its meaning..."
A new report published on Monday, co-authored by The McHarg Center's Billy Fleming, lays out a framework for dramatically decarbonizing America by 2030.
This semester, Robert Gerard Pietrusko joined the standing faculty of the Department of Landscape Architecture as an associate professor, following a decade on the landscape architecture faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His design work, which is produced under the name of his studio, WARNING OFFICE, has been exhibited in more than 15 countries, and he a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 2021. An inveterate polymath, Pietrusko earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Synthesis from the Berklee College of Music, a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University, and a Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
Before landscape architects can make decisions about how best to intervene in a landscape, they need data about the land itself: What its components are, how it moves, how it’s likely to change. Often, though, that data is collected by professionals in other disciplines, or government authorities with agendas of their own. Rather than taking that information for granted, says Keith VanDerSys, senior lecturer in landscape architecture, landscape architects can use emerging technologies to generate data of their own.