McHarg to Receive the Japan Prize

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Ian McHarg: “I am intensely gratified and proud.” 

Ian McHarg may be credited with creating the whole concept of ecological planning—not to mention founding the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at Penn —but the emeritus professor’s reaction to learning that he had been awarded the Science and Technology Foundation’s Japan Prize in city planning was “absolute astonishment.”
  “It is remarkable that city planning has been selected as a subject for this award,” he added. “I think this is very original and very timely, because the population of the world is becoming increasingly urbanized, and—combined with the increasing ferocity of natural events due to world warming—there clearly is an increasing importance in planning. Particularly planning to minimize the pain and suffering of catastrophes. So I think the Japan Prize committee should be congratulated on having decided city planning is in fact a worthy candidate for the award. And I am intensely gratified and proud to be their choice.”
    The 79-year-old McHarg and his wife will travel to Tokyo in April to receive the prize, which is awarded each year to scientists and researchers who have made a substantial contribution to the advancement of science and technology and to the peace and prosperity of mankind. While suggesting that his own contribution “has almost nothing to do with Japan at all” but rather a “succession of projects I’ve done in sundry countries,” McHarg pointed out that one of his most influential books, Design with Nature, has been translated into Japanese “and is selling very well.” His other books include To Heal the Earth, The Once and Future Forest and A Quest for Life: An Autobiography.
    Among McHarg’s most important projects were the 1962 Plan for the Valleys in Baltimore County, Md., which he described in his autobiography as the first to advocate “constraint of development in floodplains and on aquifer recharge”; the Inner Harbor in Baltimore; the Lower Manhattan Plan (“out of which came the retrieval of the Hudson, my gift to New York”); Amelia Island, Fla. (“thought to be about the most wonderful resort in the United States”); the plan for Medford, N.J.; Pardisan, an environmental park in Iran; and The Woodlands, Texas—which, he once noted, proved that it was “possible and profitable to design with nature.”
    McHarg termed the cash award of 50 million yen (approximately $482,000) “an answer to my prayer.”
    “It might just be possible now,” he explained, “to avoid dying bankrupt.”

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