Weitzman News

Posted November 18, 2014

DI: PennDesign Leaps Forward

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design continues to rise in graduate school rankings, vaulting to the number 2 spot for its Master of Landscape Architecture program and the number 7 spot for the Master of Architecture rankings, up from 4 and 14 slots respectively.

In an interview with Architectural Record, James P. Cramer, founding editor of DesignIntelligence, noted the jump and lauded Penn for "being increasingly in sync with changes in the profession because of its emphasis on urban design."

"Our climb reflects our a series of careful choices to right size for depth, breadth and inclusivity. We have a renowned senior faculty and visiting professors, adding over twenty new standing faculty over the last six years, who are expanding our reach in digital fabrication, rapid prototyping, robotics, integrated product design, urban design, transportation, sustainability and resilience, and public and social art," said Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor.

PennDesign attracts a community of scholars, researchers and practitioners from all over the world eager to promote strategic and innovative thinking that expands the scope of design and increase its opportunity to make an outsized impact.

"While we have eight distinct degree programs, we are the most interdisciplinary school and university I know. The barriers are low, the borders are porous. We work closely together, not just in silos," Taylor described. "Our studios engage real issues. Tools support our imaginations and our ideas, without limiting them. We innovate."

Under the leadership of Professor Winka Dubbeldam, the M.Arch program has become increasingly rigorous, competitive, and future forward, examining how generative design not only produces new forms of building but smarter behavior and better performance. Professor Dubbeldam has brought in highly respected visiting faculty including Neil Denari and Tom Wiscombe as well as young talent including Michel Rojkind and Kutan Ayata, to add the School's respected faculty which includes the likes of Cecil Balmond, Joan Ockman, Ali Rahim, Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, and Marion Weiss. "We don't even touch our waiting list," the Dutch designer said. 

Studded with faculty including the enormous talent of Professors Laurie Olin and James Corner, the Master of Landscape Architecture Program is widely respected around the world. Professor Richard Weller is reigniting the link between ecology and landscape urbanism and leading the program's effort to advance studios and research initiatives that anticipate ways the discipline can collaborate with other disciplinary models to prompt new thinking and take on challenges at micro and mega scales.

The School's commitment to include travel as part of the studio pedagogy -- this fall, traveling to sites including Seoul, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, and Botswana-- underscores an emphasis to practice that is unquestionably global in scope.

Operating in the context of an urban research University that supports a culture of inquiry, PennDesign also boasts a close relationship with the City’s government and with its array of foundations and institutions and with regional governance. The School's newly-launched Kleinman Center on Energy Policy anchors its commitment to incubate thought leadership that impacts policy and advances investment in a sustainable energy future. 

Meanwhile, Dean Taylor continues to oversee work to transform PennDesign's Meyerson Hall, dramatically renovating studio space to become more flexible and open and reworking the exterior "to be more welcoming to communities and visitors from across the country and around the world. Design is a global enterprise," says Taylor.