M.Arch Director, Mark Gardner, Participates in “Designing the Political Landscape” Panel

Designing The Political Landscape: Activism + Design in the Trump Era

Increasingly, the Trump Administration is exercising its power through spatial means, sowing chaos and despair across a broad spectrum of the American landscape. In January, the Administration’s decision to open many of our National Parks to oil and gas drilling–and to privatize significant portions of our other public lands–sparked a mass resignation from the National Park Service Advisory Board. More recently, the Administration’s family separation policy has involved the use of prisons, holding centers, and military installations to detain immigrant children in designed spaces and landscapes (to say nothing of the unending calls for a massive border wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border).

Though the Architecture Lobby and Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility have issued forceful statements in opposition to these acts, the design community has otherwise remained conspicuously quiet on issues that are fundamental to the present and future of our professions.

Simply calling one’s design practice “activist” isn’t enough. The challenges posed not only by this Administration, but by the simmering threat of climate change demand more.

In light of this, the Ian McHarg Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design is proud to host May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, in conversation with Councilwoman Helen Gym (City of Philadelphia), Mark Gardner (J/GA and The New School), Barbara Brown-Wilson (UVA), and Billy Fleming (McHarg) for its fall public forum: “Designing the Political Landscape: Activism, Urbanism, and Design in the Trump Era.” As one of the few women figureheads in the U.S. environmental movement, May was recently dubbed ‘the new face of the climate movement‘ by The Guardian.