Letter from the Dean
As a graduate student at Penn, my mentor was a charismatic, outspoken Scotsman by the name of Ian McHarg. A professor, then chair, of landscape and regional planning for five decades, he was arguably the most important environmental planner and landscape architect of the 20th century. McHarg, Louis Kahn, Ann Strong, David De Long, Terry Adkins, and other visionary faculty members introduced powerful concepts for design, planning, and art to the world. Their students have since reshaped the skyline in cities from Chicago to Hong Kong, protected natural resources and cultural landmarks around the world, and helped strengthen communities in Philadelphia and beyond.
Our accomplishments are great, and our ambitions even greater. How do we add value to the places in which we live, work, and play? How do we reconnect with the natural world on which we depend? And how can we leave the world a better place for future generations? From big data and computational design to remote sensing and robotics, technology offers new tools to take our imagination and problem solving further than ever before. It’s our time to lead. I hope you will join me.
Frederick “Fritz” Steiner (MRP’77, MA’86, PhD’86)
Dean and Paley Professor
Co-Director, The Ian L. McHarg Center
Weitzman centers of excellence are issue-focused engines of applied and theoretical research, rooted in design. They tackle issues that are crucial to our collective welfare, from diversifying our energy mix and increasing equity to facilitating ecological design and sustainable development.
As experts on the built and natural environments, we recognize the need to re-imagine our spaces on campus to meet the needs of growing programs and centers, and unlock their full potential. Expanding our footprint and upgrading the tools available to students and faculty are crucial if we are to support innovation well into the future.
Through education, research, and direct action, we have moved beyond the traditional confines of academia. Our faculty and students lead the way, with innovative and sustainable design that aims to address today’s pressing problems, while retaining the vigor and scope of our legacy in design.
We are leading the effort to make change. By seeing opportunity where some might only see obstacles. Providing the data to back it up. And generating plans to mitigate the existential dangers to our species.