University of Southern California School of Architecture recently announced the appointment of associate professor Alison Hirsch as the new director of the Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism program, effective August 2019.
“Alison was the perfect choice for this role because she naturally inspires colleagues and students to do their best work,” said Milton S. F. Curry, dean of USC School of Architecture. “She exudes a unique combination of imaginative and rigorous scholarship paired with a steadfast commitment to social and theoretical frames of reference for designers. We are excited to watch her take our already impressive academic program in landscape architecture and urbanism to the next level as she settles into her new role.”
As a landscape theorist, designer, and historian, Hirsch’s work focuses on how the interpretation of sociocultural practices and marginalized histories and memories can contribute to the design of meaningful urban places. Her research areas include: cultural landscapes; spatial politics of landscape architecture; contested urban landscapes; activist design methods; practices of representation; and landscape’s intersections with performance and choreography.
Earlier this month, Hirsch was granted funds by The Graham Foundation, which awards grants to individuals whose projects are innovative, feasible, and will make a meaningful impact on the architecture field as a whole, to pursue her proposed project, Landscape and “the Working Country”: Food Justice and Landscape Ethics in California’s Central Valley. This will focus on the confluence of land, labor, transcultural settlement, mobility, and agriculture in the lower San Joaquin Valley. Hirsch was also awarded a Graham Foundation grant in 2013, which resulted in her book, City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America (University of Minnesota Press).
In addition to serving on the USC Architecture faculty since 2013, Hirsch also is the co-founder of the award-winning Foreground Design Agency and a prolific writer. She is the co-editor of a book of essays by James Corner, titled The Landscape Imagination (Princeton Architectural Press), and is currently working on a book titled The Performative Landscape. Hirsch’s work also has been published in numerous journals including Landscape Journal, Journal of Architectural Education (JAE), and Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
Hirsch previously taught landscape architecture theory and design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), University of Virginia and University of Toronto. She also was a 2017-2018 Prince Charitable Trusts/Rolland Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.
Hirsch received her Master’s of Landscape Architecture, Master’s of Historic Preservation and Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.
“It’s an honor to step into the role of director of our Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism program,” stated Hirsch. “I see this position as an opportunity to shape a program embedded in the environmental complexities of our region, and as a model of what landscape architectural education can be, particularly in terms of issues of climate justice and sociocultural equity.”