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News from the Weitzman School of Design
New Gift Brings Design Education to Underserved Youth
A group of young people work on a design project on a table
A $7.5 million gift from Lori Kanter Tritsch and Trustee William P. Lauder has created Design to Thrive, which offers design education to underserved youth. With this gift, Design to Thrive will be a permanent enrichment program produced by PennPraxis, the center for applied research, outreach, and practice at Weitzman.⁠“This gift will enable PennPraxis to have an even greater impact in communities that design does not typically serve,” said Ellen Neises, the Lori Kanter Tritsch Executive Director of PennPraxis and the professor of practice in landscape architecture.
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A Global View of the Green New Deal
A detail of a map of the world with renderings of animals incorporated
The Green New Deal and its implications for the design professions have been areas of sustained focus for The Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at Weitzman. But for alum Palak Agarwal (MLA’21, MUSA’21), there was still something missing from the conversation. “It was too American-centric,” she says. So earlier this year The McHarg Center launched Field Notes Toward an Internationalist Green New Deal, a collaborative and student-led research project “intended to open new terrains for scholarship, organizing, contestation, and struggle in the fight for a globally just Green New Deal.”
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Turning Buildings into Carbon Storage Structures
Architectural rendering of the proposed research
Penn has been selected to receive $2.4 million in funding from the US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for research on increasing the total amount of carbon stored in buildings to create carbon sinks, which absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than released during the construction process. The principal investigators for the project are Weitzman’s Masoud Akbarzadeh, director of the Polyhedral Structures Laboratory and assistant professor of architecture, and Dorit Aviv, director of the Thermal Architecture Lab and assistant professor of architecture. “We’re taking a multi-scalar approach to minimize the impact of using concrete, which is the most ubiquitous construction material globally,” said Akbarzadeh.
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Excerpt: Change Over Time on Integrity and Preservation
Detail of the cover of the journal
In an excerpt from the latest issue of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation’s Change Over Time journal, Sarah C. Bronin, a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University, explores the definitions and interpretations of integrity, one of the central constructs of the conservation field. “Scholars have criticized the integrity requirement in designation determinations because they believe it bars certain types of resources from receiving legal protection,” Bronin writes.
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Douglas Robb Named Inaugural McHarg Fellow
Douglas Robb
Douglas Robb, a researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, has been named the inaugural McHarg Fellow. Awarded by The Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology, the McHarg Fellowship provides $75,000 to support an emerging voice in landscape architecture and its related fields who would benefit most from support to conduct research, to teach, and to be mentored by faculty over the term of the fellowship. “Douglas Robb’s work rests at the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, climate change, and the energy transition in rural North America–issues, communities, and territories at the core of the design professions’ present and future,” says Billy Fleming, Wilks Family Director of The McHarg Center.
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2022 Student Awards
Each year, Weitzman students are recognized for excellence in scholarship, design excellence, and service by the School and their academic department. This year’s winners received financial support to travel to study American architecture and European gardens, attend academic conferences, visit museums, and more. Awards went to students for excellence in a wide range of fields, from transportation planning to architectural conservation.
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A group of students wearing flying gear
Greener Airports
Six students from across the University, including 2022 Master of Architecture graduate Liam Lasting (second from left), presented a bold vision of an airport equipped with carbon-capturing technology and an electrified vehicle fleet at a NASA competition, garnering the “Most Intriguing Concept” award. The team worked with the Clean Energy Conversions Laboratory, which is led by Jennifer Wilcox, the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering who has a research appointment at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.
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Rainy street at night in China
East Meets West
More expansive carbon markets are needed to meet the global challenge of climate change. In a new policy digest from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Angela Sun, an undergraduate seminar fellow, explains that a linked China-European Union market will decrease the overall cost of abatement and serve as a monumental step in global cooperation. “Simply put, the linkage will represent the breakage of a monumental barrier in carbon mitigation on a comprehensive, global scale,” writes Sun.
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Rendering of a proposed landscape
An online gallery brings together work from Weitzman’s Year End Show, including this rendering created by Samuel Ridge (MLA’22) for a studio led by Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Karen M’Closkey.
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“Can Carbon Capture Be Part of the Climate Solution?”
Jennifer Wilcox, the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering who has a research appointment at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, is profiled for her groundbreaking research. Wilcox has a leading role at the US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.
The New York Times (June 13, 2022)

“Philly officials want you to reimagine the Ben Franklin Parkway”
The redesign of Philadelphia’s historic Parkway is moving ahead, based in part on a study by PennPraxis.
The Philadelphia Tribune (June 15, 2022)

“Megaregions and Our Future”
Dean Steiner talks about his latest book, Megaregions and America’s Future, with co-authors Robert Yaro and Ming Zhang.
Talking Headways Podcast (June 16, 2022)

“How One Preservationist Is Bridging Black History with Black Futures”
Brent Leggs, senior advisor at the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites and adjunct associate professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, talks about his path to the preservation field and work at the National Trust.
Veranda (June 15, 2022)

“Four ways to promote Philly’s nightlife as a possible antidote to nuisance and violence”
An op-ed co-authored by faculty member and PennPraxis researcher Michael Fichman calls for a wider range of solutions to create safe experiences in nightlife corridors
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 11, 2022)
“Similar to the way the walking seems to trigger the writer’s imagination, forest walking engages design-thinking and can itself be an act of design.”
Alum Nathan Heavers (MLA’09) on “Walking and Staying in the Landscape,” a collection of essays that includes contributions from Weitzman faculty Sonja Dümpelmann, John Dixon Hunt, Valerio Morabito, and Fritz Steiner and alum Albert Chen (MArch’14, MLA’17) (via RiVista: Research for Landscape Architecture)

“Landscape gardening and design were integral to the Hampton-Tuskegee model, yet this model hindered access for Black and Indigenous students to university education in landscape architecture.”
Professor of Landscape Architecture Sonja Dümpelmann on the pedagogical legacies of Frederick Law Olmsted and Booker T. Washington (via Places Journal)

“While archaeologists have been adept at revealing the nexus of nationalism, archaeology, and the military in war zones or the radical politics underpinning theoretical positionalities, we have been less attuned to the shadow histories of our own methodological developments and technics.”
Lynn Meskell, the Richard D. Green University Professor, on how archaeological innovation was tied to, and developed directly out of, US nuclear ambition (via American Anthropologist)
Installation view of the exhibition
Hometowns Project 2022
A collaborative installation of text and images from the Weitzman community
Ongoing | In person; Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Weitzman School of Design · 210 South 34th Street · 102 Meyerson Hall · Philadelphia, PA 19104 · USA