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ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Human survival depends upon adapting ourselves and our landscapes – cities, buildings, roadways, rivers, fields, forests – in new, life-sustaining ways, shaping places that are functional, sustainable, meaningful, and artful, places that help us feel and understand the relationship of the natural and the built.

My career as an author, photographer, landscape architect, and teacher has been dedicated to this goal.

ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Author

I write to understand why and how things come about and to envision what they might be.

As an author, I want to inspire readers to see their world afresh and to imagine new possibilities.

 
 

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The Eye Is A Door

(Wolf Tree Press, 2012)

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Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports from the Field

(University of Chicago Press, 2008)
2009 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize
2009 Great Places Book Award
2009 honorable Mention, PROSE Award

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> Go to Book Site
> Hear NPR Interview

The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design

(New York: Basic Books, 1984). Translated into Japanese and Portuguese.
1984 President’s Award of Excellence from the American Society of Landscape Architects
2009 Named one of the past century’s “100 Essential Books of Planning,” American Planning Association

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> Hear PRI Interview



Read the Essays

ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Photographer

I photograph to discover ideas and stories, hidden and real, that are embodied in the world.

As a photographer, I want to inspire others to see the extraordinary in the everyday, to pause and look deeply at the surface of things, and also beyond that surface to the stories landscapes tell, to the forces that shape human lives and communities, the earth, and the universe.



See the Photographs

Explore The Eye Is a Door

ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Landscape Architect

Action is another way of knowing. As a landscape architect, I work with people to design their neighborhood, city, and region, using action to develop and test theory, and theory to reflect on experience.

Making things happen is a messy process full of unforeseen obstacles and opportunities. Unexpected events challenge assumptions.

 
 

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ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

Teacher

As a teacher, I want to help my students discover: to see and think, to be able to reason and imagine through words, images, and action.

I create a framework for learning where students’ insights grow out of their independent and collective work, and where I too can learn.

 

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ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

On Landscape

My work ranges across far-flung territories, from rural countryside to inner city neighborhoods, and it crosses many boundaries. Landscape and design are the threads that connect the whole.

Landscape is an association of people and place. A dynamic partnership. A mutual shaping.



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ANNE WHISTON SPIRN

On Design

Design is a way of imagining and telling new stories and reviving old ones, describing the shape of a possible future.

Design is for me a frame of mind, a habit of looking for opportunities where others see problems and then of devising solutions that combine function, form, poetry, and justice.


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All my work – design, teaching, photography, and writing – is devoted to helping people recognize the good and the beautiful that exist in the world, to bolster and build from them, and to recognize the ugly and the dangerous, to avoid them.


 

Welcome to this site, which is a gateway to my work.


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