Video: Anne Whiston Spirn, 2020 ASLA Medal Winner

“Climate change and the gross disparities in economic means and access to education and employment across the world are threatening the human species. They’re equally threatening, and social upheavals can only get worse as disparities in income and opportunities continue to get wider.”

“For the past 30 years, since I wrote The Granite Garden, I’ve focused on restoring the natural environment of cities at the same time as rebuilding inner-city communities and educating and empowering young people who don’t have access to a high-quality education that will set them up for having a stake in society. Those are areas where I’ll continue to devote my efforts.”

– Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA

In recognition of her lifetime of achievements as an author, professor, and thought leader in landscape architecture; her groundbreaking work in the field, from her book The Granite Garden to the West Philadelphia Landscape Project; and for her continuing drive to promote environmental justice, the American Society of Landscape Architects is proud to award the 2020 ASLA Medal to Anne Whiston Spirn, FASLA.

Spirn is the Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The American Planning Association named her first book, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (1984), as one of the 100 most important books of the 20th century and credited it with launching the ecological urbanism movement. Her other books include The Language of Landscape (1998), Daring to Look (2008), and The Eye is a Door (2014).

Since 1987, she has directed the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, an action research program that has the goal of restoring nature and rebuilding community through strategic design, planning, and education programs. Spirn is the recipient of Japan’s 2001 International Cosmos Prize for “contributions to the harmonious coexistence of nature and mankind;” IFLA’s Geoffrey Jellicoe Award; and the 2018 National Design Award for “Design Mind.”

Read an ASLA interview with Spirn.

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