|Landscape Architecture Department at Penn Design: Richard Weller
January 15, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 17
Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean and Paley Professor at PennDesign, announced that Richard Weller has been named the Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism and chair of the department of landscape architecture.
Mr. Weller assumed the chairmanship this month, a position that has been held since 2000 by Professor James Corner.
Professor Corner describes Professor Weller as “a leading edge figure in our field. His scholarship is exemplary, perhaps even canonical. His teaching is highly effective and has deeply influenced a generation of students; his visibility and service to the field continues to be hugely significant, and he has earned the respect and regard of some of the world’s foremost landscape architects and scholars.”
Professor Weller, who has taught and practiced landscape architecture for over 25 years, was previously the Winthrop Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and director of both the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and the design firm, Room 4.1.3.
During this time, he received a consistent stream of awards for his teaching and his design work, published over 70 papers and gave hundreds of public lectures around the world.
Professor Weller’s current research concerns ways of conceptualizing, representing and designing cities at mega-regional scale and he is a strong advocate for the role and influence of landscape architecture.
“In a rapidly urbanizing world which is increasingly pressured by environmental limits, I don’t think it is too much to say that this is landscape architecture’s century,” he posits. “Landscape architecture has the breadth, the sensitivity and the interdisciplinary aptitude to lead the way in creating new urban ecologies. But if landscape architects are to rise to the occasion then they need more than ambition: they need very particular conceptual, rhetorical and technical skills.
Dean Taylor noted that Professor Weller’s appointment builds upon an incredible legacy of leadership in the department of landscape architecture, which began with Professor Ian L. McHarg more than 50 years ago.
“We can expect Professor Weller, with his wide experience and global perspective, to strengthen the interdisciplinary connections between landscape and architecture, between regional planning and economic analysis, between design and the current demographic crisis. He will bring a new distinctive direction to the department that will cultivate and activate the School’s commitment to integrated design,” she said.
Professor Weller affirmed Penn’s historical and contemporary significance: “When you look over the discipline’s recent history, say the last 50 years, I think you can see these critical and creative skills being progressively consolidated, particularly in schools such as Penn, from where they have fanned out across the globe.
It was 30 years ago when as a student I first became aware of Penn, and, for me, it has been the most important school in the world ever since. I am honored and humbled to now play a lead role in keeping it that way.”
Professor Weller’s conceptual designs were published as a monograph by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2005 and his large scale urban planning work was published as Boomtown 2050 by UWA Press in 2009. His most recent book, Made in Australia, concerns the long-term future of Australian cities; it is due for release in March.
Professor Corner will continue as a leading faculty member at PennDesign while also practicing at James Corner Field Operations, with work including The High Line in New York City, the Seattle Waterfront, and, more recently, the post-Olympic parks in London.