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Dr. Carl Steinitz, the Eleanor R. Stuckeman Chair in Design at Penn State, to Give Public Lecture

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Aug 30 2011 - 3:15pm

Dr. Carl Steinitz, the Eleanor R. Stuckeman Chair in Design at Penn State, will give a public lecture, “On Ways of Designing,” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, in 112 Forest Resources Building on Penn State’s University Park campus.

Steinitz, the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Research Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning Emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, has devoted much of his academic and professional career to improving methods by which planners and designers analyze information about large land areas and make decisions about conservation and development. Visiting from his current residence in London, he is an honorary researcher at the University College London/Bartlett School Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.

Building on more than four decades at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, as well as a professional career managing a substantial number of “politically charged, largely undefined big multidisciplinary projects,” Steinitz will describe eight ways of designing. Each design strategy will be paired with a complex case study—for example, how to protect the economy, ecology and community of Colorado’s Telluride region as it faces an imminent development explosion. The lecture will resonate with Stuckeman School students and faculty, scholars and professionals in related designs fields, and “the average citizen who is worried about the content of their environment”—from clean water and biodiversity to urban sprawl and the beauty of the landscape. The subtext of Steinitz’s message: Caveat emptor.

Steinitz emphasizes a collaborative approach to design that he says transcends traditional landscape architecture curricula: the notion that a designer makes the design. The biggest problems of the foreseeable future—population growth, landscape preservation and water quality, to name a few—do not fit that model. Rather, these require collaboration among the design professions and the geographic sciences in design. Steinitz says. “Most of the time, design schools teach on the basis of a client, a site and program,” he says. “But what if there’s no client, no site, and no program?”

He speaks from experience. Steinitz has directed multi-disciplinary studies of the Gunnison region of Colorado; the Monadnock region of New Hampshire; the Gartenreich Worlitz in Germany; the West Lake in Hangzhou, China; Coiba National Park in Panama; and the regions of Castilla La Mancha and Valencia in Spain, among many others.

For the first five weeks of the fall 2011 semester, Steinitz is leading an intensive five-week seminar for upper-level Penn State Landscape Architecture students titled “The Visual Landscape: Assessment and Management.” During his stay, he will also work with Dr. Andy Cole, associate professor of landscape architecture, and Brian Orland, professor of landscape architecture, to organize a charrette related to a special Marcellus Shale-focused depth studio.

Steinitz will spend the rest of his time at Penn State finalizing a book he has written. Currently in the editing phase, it illustrates strategies for organizing the type of large-scale problems he’ll address in his lecture. Since the book’s inception, he has wondered if those strategies could provide a framework for undergraduate education. His participation in the Marcellus Shale-focused studio, he says, serves as a “test of some of my own thinking.”

Steinitz has lectured and given workshops at more than 140 other universities. In 1984, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) presented him with the Outstanding Educator Award for his “extraordinary contribution to environmental design education” and for his “pioneering exploration in the use of computer technology in landscape planning.”  In 1996 he received the annual “Outstanding Practitioner Award” from the International Society of Landscape Ecology (USA). In 2002, he was honored as one of Harvard University’s outstanding teachers.