• Friends of Fairsted Programs


The Nature of Cities: Practice and Perception


Tuesday, December 1, 2016

From the Granite Garden to West Philadelphia (with a nod to the Fens):
Restoring Nature & Communities

Anne Whiston Spirn
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, MIT


6:00pm Reception | 7:00pm Lecture
Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, corner of Hawes and Monmouth Streets, Brookline, MA
Seating is limited and reservations are required.
Reserve online or 617-566-1689, ext. 265

Frederick Law Olmsted’s design of Boston’s Fens and Riverway established landscape architecture’s role in constructing nature. Creating invisible environmental solutions continues as the basis for healing the neglected and polluted neighborhood of West Philadelphia, and educating Philadelphia’s planners.

Since the publication of The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design (1984), Anne Whiston Spirn has challenged the segregation of ecology from urban planning and infrastructure by pursuing innovative approaches to the design of urban environments. Since 1987, Spirn has directed the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, an award-winning program dedicated to restoring nature, rebuilding inner-city communities, and empowering youth. Spirn’s book-in-progress, Top-Down/Bottom-Up, for which she received a Guggenheim fellowship, describes this research-in-action and its lessons for designing healthier, more equitable and sustainable communities.

Limited street parking is available. Public parking is not allowed in the Wheelock parking lot. Venue is easily accessible by MBTA Green Line “C” (Hawes Street) or “D” (Longwood) trains.
Thank you to Wheelock College for their generosity in hosting our lectures.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lewis Mumford’s Green Urbanism

Aaron Sachs
Professor of History and American Studies, Cornell University


In his early writings, Mumford accompanied his critique of modern cities with a positive, constructive vision for how people might design and occupy urban spaces more sustainably. This talk reconsiders Lewis Mumford’s writings of the 1930s as an early exemplar of green urbanism, in line with current trends in urban ecology and design.

An environmental historian, Aaron Sachs investigates nature and culture from multi-disciplinary perspectives, looking at how ideas about nature have changed over time and how those changes have mattered in the western world. He is the author of The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism (2006) and Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition (2013). Sachs supports innovative history writing with co-editor Jonathan Demos through Yale University Press’s New Directions in Narrative History series, and serves as the faculty sponsor of Historians Are Writers (HAW), bringing together Cornell graduate students who believe that academic writing can be moving on a deeply human level.


March 2016:
Parks: Cornerstone of Civic Revitalization

Rolf Diamant
December 2015:
The “Fairsted School”: An Enduring Legacy

Ethan Carr

March 2015:

Gary Hilderbrand

December 2014:
Dwelling in Landscape

Daniel Bluestone

March 2014:
The Shaping of Regions: The New York Regional Plan and the Origins of Planning in America

Robert Yaro

November 2013:
From Buffalo to Boston: Olmsted’s Evolving Vision of Urban Park Systems

Francis R. Kowsky

March 2013:
Brooklyn’s Resilient Edge: The Transformation of Industrial Waterfront into Brooklyn Bridge Park

Nate Trevethan

November 2012:
Time Made Visible: Charles Eliot and the Planning of the Metropolitan Park System

Anita Berrizbeitia

March 2012:
Frederick Law Olmsted, 1882-1890: Boston, Brookline and Beyond

Ethan Carr

November 2011:
The Enduring Design Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. in the Nation’s Capital

Arleyn Levee

October 2009:
The Olmsted Firm and the Development of Brookline

Keith Morgan