Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture


Title: Designing a Planet?**

The lecture argues that if landscape architecture is to fulfil its mandate it can and must expand in two directions: the first intellectual and the second, territorial. It poses three questions 1) How to articulate the 4-dimensional field conditions of the object? 2) Whether there can be a critical landscape architectural project in the Anthropocene ? And 3) how do we work at a scale and in a manner commensurate with the crisis? The lecture loosely organizes contemporary practice into the following categories and comments upon their limitations and potentials.

• Neo-picturesque
• De-natured/cyborgian
• High-performance (GI, NBS)
• Activist-Community
• New materialists-indeterminists
• Landscape urbanism

The lecture pivots to briefly outline the speaker’s current research regarding biodiversity and urbanization on a planetary scale and by drawing on the metaphor of the terrarium answers the lecture’s overarching question of whether a planet can be designed in both the affirmative and the negative.


Richard Weller is the Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture and co-Director of the McHarg Center at The University of Pennsylvania. He is former co-director of Room 4.1.3- a design firm acknowledged with a Penn Press monograph (2005) and noted for critical design projects such as the National Museum of Australia.

In over 30 years of practice he has worked simultaneously as an academic and a consultant specializing in the formative stages of projects ranging from gardens to plazas, memorials, museums, suburbs and waterfronts. His research projects have involved scenario planning for cities, megaregions and nations. Weller’s work has been exhibited in galleries such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Gardner Museum in Boston, the MAXXI Gallery in Rome and the Canadian Design Museum.

He has published 4 books; Room 4.1.3: Innovations in Landscape architecture; Boomtown 2050: Scenarios for a Rapidly Growing City; Made in Australia: The Future of Australian Cities and Transects: 100 years of Landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he has over 90 single-authored academic papers, book chapters and articles on the theory and practice of landscape architecture.

Weller’s most recent research concerns global flashpoints between biodiversity and urban growth. This research is documented in his latest publication; a web-based platform titled ‘Atlas for the End of the World – Atlas for the Beginning of the Anthropocene’. The Atlas analyzes how nations are performing with regard to reaching 2020 UN targets for protecting biodiversity and identifies the conflict zones between urban growth and endangered species in over 400 cities.

Weller sits on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) in Washington, is a member of the International Federation of Landscape Architect’s (IFLA) Advisory Circle and is the Creative Director of the interdisciplinary journal of landscape architecture LA+.

At PennDesign he specializes in teaching history, theory and advanced design studios. In 2012 he received a national (Australian) teaching award and in 2017 was voted by the Design Intelligence Survey as one of North America’s “most admired” teachers.