Design with Nature Now is a multifaceted international program of three exhibitions, a major international conference, and related public events conceived to engage and invigorate the global dialogue about the nature of design and the design of nature fifty years after the publication of Ian McHarg’s landmark book, Design with Nature. Through support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the exhibitions will draw from the extensive archival holdings in the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design’s Architectural Archives to tell the remarkable story of McHarg’s life and work, collect and curate a series of contemporary projects exemplifying visionary models of designing with nature in the 21st century, and an interpretive installation of McHarg’s home region: the Clyde River Valley in Scotland. All of these activities will culminate in the publication of a new book, Design with Nature NOW, which is being published and sponsored by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
The two-day, international conference will be held June 21-22, 2019, bringing nearly 1,000 design and planning professionals from around the world to Philadelphia. The conference will feature an opening night keynote delivered by Ursula Heise and Erle Ellis, and a daylong series of moderated discussions between the book’s essayists, including James Corner, Tom Campanella, Ann Whiston Spirn, and Catherine Seavitt.
The conference, exhibitions, and book will address the most pressing environmental issues of our time by illuminating the relevance of McHarg’s philosophy and methodology to improving the quality of life in cities and beyond, and their contemporary resonance among innovative designers and planners globally. McHarg’s critique of the landscape architecture profession, and his reaching out to fields beyond his own, redirected its focus and expanded its field of activity. His efforts led to the creation of tools vital to the profession today, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and environmental impact statements.
Design with Nature Now is an historic opportunity to move beyond the classroom and to advance the profession in new, transformative ways. The conference itself will be the most visible aspect of the celebration.
Assistant Dean, Development and Alumni Relations