News & Events | Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future

Summit Panelist: Anne Whiston Spirn

Anne Whiston Spirn
June 11, 2016

Anne Whiston Spirn
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Director, West Philadelphia Landscape Project

Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an award-winning author, photographer, teacher, and practitioner. She has also taught at Harvard and at the University of Pennsylvania, where she succeeded Ian McHarg as chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Her 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).

Spirn studied art history at Harvard University and landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, she worked at Wallace McHarg Roberts and Todd on diverse projects, including plans for Woodlands New Community, Sanibel, Florida, and the Toronto Central Waterfront. Since 1987, Spirn has directed the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, an award-winning program dedicated to restoring nature, rebuilding inner-city communities, and empowering youth. WPLP was cited as a Model of Best Practice at a 1999 White House summit for leading scholars and artists in public life. Spirn’s book-in-progress, Top-Down/Bottom-Up, for which she received a Guggenheim fellowship, describes this research-in-action and its lessons for designing healthier, more equitable and sustainable communities. In 2010, Spirn received an honorary doctorate from the Swedish Agricultural University, and, in 2001, 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: