A proposal for Center City from GreenPlan Philadelphia, 2011
Paul Germaine McCoy
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Philadelphia—The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design has selected Peter Eisenman as the 2020 recipient of the Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design, and the City of Philadelphia as the 2020 recipient of the Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City and Regional Planning for GreenPlan Philadelphia.
“Architects and planners are being challenged today in new and complex ways ,” said Fritz Steiner, dean and Paley Professor of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, “but complexity isn’t the enemy. Just look at the portfolio of Peter Eisenman and the legacy of GreenPlan Philadelphia.”
The Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design was established in 2017 through a $1.25 million gift from Penn alumna Lori Kanter Tritsch (MArch’85), a member of the Board of Overseers at Weitzman, and her partner and fellow Penn alumnus William P. Lauder, who holds a bachelor of science in economics from the Wharton School and is a Penn trustee. The Prize honors an architect who has changed the course of design history, with a particular focus on the areas of energy conservation, environmental quality, and/or diversity.
“Peter always pushes the boundaries of architecture and has given architects so much to think about over the past 50 years,” said Winka Dubbeldam, Miller Professor and chair of architecture, and founding partner at Archi-Tectonics. “And then there is his stunning built work: Who else could have created the Holocaust memorial in Berlin? It is such a social space of healing.”
The Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City and Regional Planning was established by William Witte (C’73, MCP’75), an alumnus of the Weitzman School and member of the Board of Overseers, and his wife, Keiko Sakamoto, Esq. to recognize a firm, team, or professional for an exemplary plan that advances plan making in at least four of the following areas: social equity, environmental quality, design, public health, mobility, housing affordability, and economic development.
“GreenPlan Philadelphia shows you how organizations of all shapes and sizes can come together with common purpose,” said Lisa Servon, the Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor and chair of city and regional planning.
The original plan was developed by WRT for the City of Philadelphia during the administration of former Mayor Michael Nutter. The ideas and strategies laid out in GreenPlan have helped inform a variety of active programs in Philadelphia today, including Greenworks Philadelphia, Tree Philly, Green City, Clean Waters and more. Together, these efforts are making Philadelphia a healthier, more vibrant and more climate resilient city that can thrive in the future.
In concert with the professional medalists, the Weitzman School has selected two outstanding students entering their final year of study to receive a $50,000 scholarship each for the 2020-2021 Academic Year.
The Kanter Tritsch Prize is given to a Master of Architecture candidate entering the final year of study who demonstrates transformational thinking on the built environment and innovation in his or her approach to one or more challenges of energy, ecology, and social equity. The recipient of the 2020 Prize is Paul Germaine McCoy, whose work is deeply invested in design questions about time, aesthetics, history, and the environment.
The Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize is given to a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate for innovation and impact in planning. The recipient of the 2020 Prize is Avery Harmon, whose work explores potential solutions to improve the lives of African Americans through the built environment.
The honorees will be recognized in a virtual event planned for December 2, 2020. For more information or to support the next generation of planners, architects, landscape architects, preservationists, or artists to be educated at the School, contact Jeff Snyder, assistant dean for development and alumni at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.817.1770.
About Peter Eisenman
Peter Eisenman is an internationally recognized architect and educator who is best known for large-scale housing and urban design projects, innovative facilities for educational institutions, and inventive private houses. Eisenman Architects’ approach to design projects is to consider the layers of physical and cultural archaeologies at each site, not just the obvious contexts and programs of a building. The office’s clients have ranged from the individual homeowner to the Federal Republic of Germany, from the State of Ohio to the Autonomous Community of Galicia in Spain, each with its own needs, financial constraints, and expectations. Current projects include a one-million-square-foot, six-building cultural complex in Santiago de Compostela, Spain (a library and an archive, a performing arts center, two museums, and a central services building), a commuter rail station in Pompeii, Italy, condominium housing in Milan, and a masterplan for Pozzuoli, Italy. Before establishing a full-time architectural practice, Eisenman founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), an international think tank for architecture in New York, which he directed until 1982. He is also an author, whose most recent books include: Written Into the Void: Selected Writings, 1990-2004 (Yale University Press, 2007) and Ten Canonical Buildings, 1950-2000 (Rizzoli, 2008), which examines in depth buildings by ten different architects. Currently the Charles Gwathmey Professor in Practice at the Yale School of Architecture, Eisenman’s academic career also includes teaching at The Cooper Union, Cambridge, Princeton, Harvard, and Ohio State universities. In March of 2020, Eisenman received the Gold Medal for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
About GreenPlan Philadelphia
In 2011, the City of Philadelphia entered into a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—an enforcement mechanism embedded in the Clean Water Act that empowers the EPA to regulate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) when they damage the health of urban streams and water sources. CSO issues are common in communities throughout the postindustrial Northeast, where aging stormwater infrastructure and a proliferation of impervious surfaces can overwhelm municipal water utilities. But what set Philadelphia’s response apart from its predecessors’ was its focus on addressing the city’s CSO problem by investing in a distributed network of green infrastructure, an approach engendered by the city’s strong culture of community organizing by environmental nonprofits and the precedent of Anne Whiston Spirn’s work in West Philadelphia. GreenPlan Philadelphia was originally developed by WRT, LLC and became part of a multi-year planning process that led the city to adopt a variety of green infrastructure-driven reforms to its comprehensive plan, its water utility’s operations, and its municipal sustainability office. These efforts produced two additional initiatives: GreenWorks, the strategic plan to establish and grow Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability; and the Green Cities, Clean Waters Initiative, a series of pricing and planning reforms within the large, innovative Philadelphia Water Department.
About the Weitzman School of Design
The mission of the Weitzman School of Design is to prepare students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.
About the University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, is an Ivy League institution with a distinctive past. Its twelve undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools are located in Philadelphia on an attractive urban campus that serves a diverse community of more than 20,000 students from throughout the nation and around the world. Ranked consistently among the top universities in the nation, Penn has a longstanding reputation for excellence in graduate and professional education.