2 Designers Among 24 MacArthur Grantees

John Hill
11. October 2017
Kate Orff and Damon Rich (Photos courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)
Landscape architect Kate Orff and designer/urban planner Damon Rich are among the Class of 2017 MacArthur "Genius" Fellows.
Every year since 1981 the MacArthur Foundation has awarded "unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." Now carrying a stipend of $625,000 (paid out over a five-year period), the MacArthur Fellowship is a "no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential." Put another way, the Fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award.

According to the MacArthur Foundation, three criteria are used for the selection of Fellows, whom are nominated "by an independent Selection Committee composed of about a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities":
  1. Exceptional creativity
  2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
  3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
With Fellowships given to writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, and entrepreneurs, among others, it's rare to find architects and other designers in the annual list (only 7 names in the "architecture and environmental design" area of focus populate the 989 recipients). So we're excited to hear the announcement that landscape architect Kate Orff, founding principal of SCAPE, and Damon Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy and co-founder of the design studio Hector, are among this year's Fellows.
Landscape Architect Kate Orff, "designing adaptive and resilient urban habitats and encouraging residents to be active stewards of the ecological systems underlying our built environment":

Designer and Urban Planner Damon Rich, "creating vivid and witty strategies to design and build places that are more democratic and accountable to their residents":

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