Landscape Architect Kate Orff and Urbanist Damon Rich Awarded 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Grants

The MacArthur Foundation has announced the 24 recipients of their 2017 MacArthur Fellowships Grants (sometimes referred to as ‘Genius’ Grants), and for the first time since 2011, the list includes individuals from architectural fields: urban planner and designer Damon Rich and landscape architect Kate Orff.

Established in 1981, the grants are awarded annually “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” This year’s fellowships come with a $625,000, no-strings-attached stipend for individual pursuits.

Founding principal of landscape architecture practice SCAPE, Kate Orff has dedicated special attention toward addressing the challenges associated with urbanization and climate change, including rising sea levels, pollution and biodiversity loss. Together with her firm, Orff has developed master plans for cities and districts across the country using innovative, pedestrian-friendly schemes, such as in SCAPE’s 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge-winning climate change adaptation plan. Recently, the firm was chosen as a lead exhibitor for the US Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale.

She is also an Associate Professor & Director of the Urban Design Program at Columbia GSAPP.

Orff was lauded by the MacArthur Foundation for her “resourceful design approach” that “calls attention to the most distinctive natural attributes of a given place, while her collaborations and community outreach strategies extend the boundaries of traditional landscape architecture.”

Also a GSAPP faculty member (adjunct associate professor), Damon Rich is co-founder of design studio Hector and founder of the Center of Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a New York City-based nonprofit organization focused on the educating students and young people about urban planning processes such as affordable housing, infrastructure design and tenant’s rights.

Trained as an architect (at Columbia), Rich has used his design background to create physical representations of planning concepts, such as in his Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center exhibit at the Queens Museum in 2009. Recently, Rich has served as chief urban designer and director planning (2008–2015) for Newark, New Jersey, where he helped to spawn new development and revitalization by redrafting outdated land-use and zoning laws by organizing a citywide coalition of neighborhood representatives.

Read more about Orff and Rich as well as the other 22 grantees, here.

The 6 Architects Who Have Won MacArthur “Genius” Grants

Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced the 23 recipients of their 2016 MacArthur Fellowship Grants, which are awarded annually “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 for the recipients to use for individual pursuits, paid out in equal quarterly installments over a five year period.

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