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, artful, and just, 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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

Visit Class

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.

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.

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

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.

aws AT annewhistonspirn DOT com