The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Ian McHarg, professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, died on Monday of pulmonary disease. He was 80. McHarg came to Penn in the early 1950s and co-founded his department, which he chaired from 1955 until 1986. Born in Scotland in 1920, McHarg became an American citizen in 1960. He was living in Unionville, Pa., until his death. According to Gary Hack, the Dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, McHarg remained dedicated to Penn, even as a professor emeritus. "He was a professor emeritus, and he came to school every morning until he got sick," Hack said. And according to McHarg's widow, Carol Smyser McHarg, the late professor was committed to Penn throughout his life. "That was his life," she said. "He was devoted to Penn. That's what he cared about most." McHarg himself said last year that teaching was one of the greatest passions in his life. "It has been a wonderful podium for me to use as an advocate of the environment," he said in an interview last spring. Hack said that McHarg's contributions to environmentalism remain one of his greatest accomplishments. McHarg is recognized as one of the first advocates of including ecological factors in structural planning, and he was known for combining sciences like geology, hydrology and marine biology. "He was the strongest voice advocating environmentalism early," Hack said. "He put environmentalism on the map." Hack noted that Earth Day came about largely because of his ideas. McHarg's widow echoed Hack, saying that her husband was drawn to landscape architecture because of his concern for the environment. "I think [he was drawn to the field] because he cared about his surroundings and his environment," she said "He felt that it was the most important thing in the world." The recipient of numerous awards and honors, McHarg was most recently given the Japan Prize in city planning. The Japan Prize is presented annually to researchers and scientists that have made a contribution to mankind. It includes a cash prize of about $482,000, as well as a certificate and a medal. McHarg was also a recepient of the Harvard Lifetime Achievement Award and 15 medals, including the prestigious National Medal of Art and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. He was presented with the Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Certified Planners in 1997. And in 1984, Connoissuer magazine named him one of 131 "American Living Monuments." McHarg's widow said that it has been in the last few days that she has truly come to understand the impact that her husband had on others. "He was a very, very dynamic, caring person," she said. "I've just found out in the past few days that there were so many people who were influenced by him." After graduating from Harvard University in 1950 with three degrees, McHarg was invited to come to Penn by G. Holmes Perkins, former chairman of planning at Harvard and then-dean of Penn's Graduate School of Fine Arts. He was also a founding partner of the architectural firm Wallace, McHarg, Roberts & Todd, where he worked from 1960 until 1981. Some of his more notable projects include work on the Baltimore Inner Harbor in the 1960s. More than just architect and planner, McHarg was also an author and poet. His most recent work -- Some Songs of Stars -- was a collection of 25 poems. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 10 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the London Grove Friends Meeting in London Grove, Pa. The family suggests that contributions be sent to the London Grove Friends Meeting He is survived by his wife Carol, his sons Alistair, Malcolm, Ian and Andrew, as well as two sisters living in Scotland. Last year, before accepting the Japan Prize, McHarg had said "I hope not to retire. May I persist to the last."

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.