Kate Lecturing

Kate Orff Lecture: Projecting future solutions onto the canvas of the cityscape

April 23, 2015 by Tom Evers

One of the great pleasures I have in working in the realm of parks is getting to meet and work with innovators who are solving problems for the next generation.

One such an occasion occurred last Friday, April 17, as MPF kicked-off our 2015 Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series by co-presenting Kate Orff’s keynote for the thought-provoking Nature 3.x: Where is Nature Now? Symposium.

Kate Orff is an incredible thinker of our time.

Through her work as a landscape architect, Kate understands that parks and the public realm are more than just an added amenity to our cities. She knows that designed right, they provide solutions to the most complex challenges of our time. For the first time in history, we are living in an era where more people live in cities than not. A majority of humanity is urban.

And we are facing incredible challenges unseen before in history – climate change, public health crises, public education and levels of inequity that are bifurcating the human experience. The answers to the big challenges we face in the 21st Century can often be reached through design – and our parks and public space create rare opportunities to not only address current needs, but to project future solutions onto the canvas of the cityscape.

And yet –parks are the common denominator – they are laboratories for democracy – where everyone is welcome and where we all feel connected to our world and each other. Through our city parks and public space we are beginning to address these challenges in unique and innovative ways.

Kate Orff, founder and principal of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, is one of the premiere thinkers in this realm today – her projects are solving challenges presented by climate change, population changes and water pollution.

The most recent winner of the Buckminster Fuller Prize, Kate has been a leading visionary for the Water Works project in Minneapolis and other projects around the country that are going to define a new generation of how we imagine and design public land.

Her talk was a tremendous success and the audience left Northrop that evening energized by her enthusiasm and inspired to think differently about parks and the urban environment.

The symposium was the brainchild of Professors Matt Tucker and Christine Baeumler, co-conveners and the creative minds behind Nature 3.x. We are grateful for his invitation to co-present the opening night reception and Kate’s keynote. Sharon Fischlowitz of the Institute for Advanced Study, was an invaluable co-organizer of the lecture and the welcoming reception that preceded it. Thank you.

Finally, our entire 2015 Next Generation of Parks™ Lecture Series is made possible in part by our Major Sponsors – Whole Foods Market and First Avenue – and is produced with support from The Cynthia Froid Group and HGA Architects & Engineers.

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