Karen M'Closkey

2013 PEW FELLOW
Updated
30 Nov 2016


"We argue that patterns—due to their legibility and coherent structure—carry the potential to bind together landscape's utilitarian and aesthetic functions: system and composition; performance and appearance; matter and sign."

Karen M'Closkey (b. 1969) and Keith VanDerSys (b. 1968) explore the potential of new digital tools, fabrication technologies, and construction to expand the beauty and sustainability of the contemporary urban landscape. Their projects experiment with patterns that intrigue the eye as well as enhance natural functions, such as water flow and plant growth. Together, M'Closkey and VanDerSys have created techniques that result in a signature aesthetic, leading the way in the next generation of landscape design and contradicting notions that patterns are pretty but useless. They have worked with agencies such as the Philadelphia Water Department and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and they recently finished writing a book about the effects of digital advances in their field (Dynamic Patterns: Visualizing Landscapes in a Digital Age, forthcoming from Routledge).

M'Closkey holds an M.A. in landscape architecture from Harvard University. She received the 2012-2013 Garden Club of America Rome Prize in landscape architecture, and is the author of Unearthed: The Landscapes of Hargreaves Associates (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 J.B. Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies. She and VanDerSys are founding partners of PEG office of landscape + architecture as well as PennDesign faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.