University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA


PennDesign and viaBooks Announce the Release of DIRT

By penndesign
Mar 1, '12 9:11 AM EST

Tue. 28 February

The University of Pennsylvania's School of Design is pleased to announce the release of Dirt (MIT Press, March 2012), the latest installment from the student-edited and student-managed publication entity viaPublications.

PHILADELPHIA-- The University of Pennsylvania's School of Design is pleased to announce the release of Dirt (MIT Press, March 2012), the latest installment from the student-edited and student-managed publication entity viaPublications.

Dirt--edited by Megan Born, MArch/MLA'08, Lily Jencks, MArch/MLA'09, and Assistant Professor of Architecture Helene Furján with Phillip M. Crosby, PhD Fellow--presents a selection of works that share dirty attitudes: essays, interviews, excavations, and projects that view dirt not as filth but as a medium, a metaphor, a material, a process, a design tool, a narrative, a system. Rooted in the landscape architect's perspective, Dirt views dirt not as repulsive but endlessly giving, fertile, adaptive, and able to accommodate difference while maintaining cohesion. This dirty perspective sheds light on social connections, working processes, imaginative ideas, physical substrates, and urban networks.

In a first review, Damian Holmes of notes Dirt "has a strong graphic design that draws you into the written word with ease." Furthermore, he suggests that Dirt "provides great material for landscape architecture courses around the world" and that "it will be on many landscape theory reading lists in years to come."

Contributors to Dirt include Barry Bergdoll, Alan Berger, Anita Berrizbeitia, Megan Born, William Braham, Lindsay Bremner, Kim Brickley, Case Brown, Mark Campbell, James Corner, Phillip Crosby, Keller Easterling, Ruth Erickson, Larissa Fassler, Annette Fiero, Helene Furján, Future Cities Lab, Andrea Hansen, Mark Alan Hughes, Tetsugo Hyakutake, Robert Le Ricolais, Lily Jencks, Peter Lloyd Jones, Keith Kaseman, Ferda Kolatan, John Landis, Sylvia Lavin, Andrew Lucia, Ian McHarg, Frank Matero, PEG Office of Landscape + Architecture, Rhett Russo, SERVO, Cathrine Veikos, Phoebe Washburn, Marion Weiss, and Richard Wesley.

"Dirt marks an exciting new direction for viaPublications as a topical book series that will be published by MIT Press to invite discourse at the critical intersections of the design disciplines," said Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Design. "The great student team has defined new territories for communication between our school and the broad design community it serves. We're excited to see the impact Dirt is already having."

Dirt, listed at $34.95, is distributed by The MIT Press and is currently available in well-stocked architecture and design bookstores as well as through Amazon. Dirt launch events on March 16 at PennDesign (Philadelphia) and the Graham Foundation (Chicago) have been scheduled with events in other cities to follow.

About the Authors

Megan Born is a landscape and architectural designer at James Corner Field Operations in New York, a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and a graduate of PennDesign (M.Arch/MLA, 2008). Helene Furján, Director and founding editor of viaBooks, is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and author of Glorious Visions: John Soane's Spectacular Theater. Lily Jencks runs the landscape and architectural design office LJA+Land in London and is a graduate of PennDesign (M.Arch/MLA, 2009). Phillip M. Crosby is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture at Temple University and a Ph.D. Candidate at PennDesign.

About viaPublications

via is a collaborative of interdisciplinary students, professors, and professionals, founded by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. via is a resurrection of a title produced by PennDesign students from 1968-1990. The book series title, via, literally, ‘by way of', reinforces the book's function as a verb. via's content animates the examination of a single topic and the juxtaposition serves to trigger reinterpretation. For more information, visit

About PennDesign

PennDesign is an inventive place of learning where the many fields of architecture, planning, preservation, landscape and the fine arts come together on shared ground. At PennDesign, we are dedicated to design that is creative in nature and transformative in impact. In a collaborative environment that fosters inquiry and experimentation, faculty and students seek to recast the distinction between theory and practice, expand knowledge and invention through research, and contribute works of value and beauty. For more information, visit



Megan Schmidgal