Visiting practitioners and professors will enrich experience for students

Sheffield University brings in expertise from around the world

The University of Sheffield has hired visiting landscape professionals and professors to give its students a wider view of the working world, enhance its international presence and build intellectual capital.

The university has lined up three visiting practitioners for a two-year term, beginning in 2013. Additionally, the Weddle Visiting Chair scheme has secured four professors from across the globe, to work for three months at the University over the 2014-2015 academic year.

The three visiting practitioners are Andrew Grant (of Grant Associates), who was awarded the title of Royal Designer for Industry in 2012, Carl Steinitz (Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design), an influential  figure in landscape planning, and Piet Oudolf, one of the world-leading experts in planting design (projects include the High Line in New York).

Now in his second year of involvement with the university, Andrew Grant was drawn to work with Sheffield because of its strong research base and its approach to green infrastructure, planting and innovation.

During the annual informal visit and interaction, he explains what it’s like to work in a practice, how projects happen, and how students should send their CVs to practices. Andrew is due to visit the University of Sheffield again next month, in November.

'It’s a two-way thing,' he says. 'The students are the employees of the future and just beginning to give them a sense of how it works is really important.

'Seeing the creativity of students is really rewarding. You get plugged back into ideas from an academic point of view, which is really beneficial.'

Under the Weddle Visiting Chair Scheme, the university has hired four professors for a three-month term. The position is named after Professor Weddle, who secured independent status for Sheffield University’s research-led department of landscape architecture in 1967.

Professor Marc Treib, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Berkeley and Professor Kathryn Moore of Birmingham City University have begun their time at the university. Professor Brian Orland from Penn State (USA) and Professor Simon Swaffield from the University of Lincoln in New Zealand will arrive next year.

The scheme enables the university to forge research collaborations, strengthens international links, enhances the student experience, and  increases intellectual capital, says James Hitchmough, head of the landscape department.

'We want to be one of the leading landscape architecture universities in the world, he said. 'We want to get people at the top of their game to inform our students, to give them a world view into the working world, and to inspire them.'

The schemes have been well received, he says, and both will continue beyond 2015.

About Kathryn Moore

Kathryn Moore, world president of the International Federation of Landscape Architects and Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, is one of the four professors visiting Sheffield University under the Weddle Visiting Chair scheme.

Throughout her career, Kathryn has published extensively on design quality, theory, education and practice. She has worked on the re-visioning of Salford Quays and significant and widespread derelict land reclamation, urban regeneration, public realm creation and landscape management.

After moving to Birmingham City University, she worked with Gillespies and Camlin Lonsdale before setting up her own consultancy, Design Muse in 2007. She is advising UNESCO and the United Nations on the feasibility of an international landscape convention and is a juror for a number of international competitions including Golden Square, the Jewellery Quarter and the Birmingham City Park competition, UK.

Kathryn is now leading a radical project, the HS2 Landscape Vision, which delivers opportunities for entrepreneurship, skill development, the creation of new orchards, glades, pools, canals, woodlands, copses, forests and sustainable energy generation and plenty of other benefits, she says.

'It is time to have a new view of landscape. What we are proposing in HS2 Landscape Vision (HS2LV) – a project I am leading and supported by local civic and business leaders – is to remodel the new, highly contentious high-speed train line between London and Birmingham into an iconic city-to-city, national landscape infrastructure project that will play a significant role in shaping the UK’s response to major environmental challenges,' she says. 'Ultimately, the aim is to transform a linear, engineering project into an artistic and scientific national treasure by creating a myriad of local, regional and national landscape experiences.'

Kathryn is currently completing her three-month term at Sheffield University. She sees her time as a chance to  build on the skills that BCU and Sheffield hold in different areas.

'Birmingham City University is well known for our applied expertise in art and design and this reflects my own background and strengths in this area,' she said. 'Sheffield University approaches this subject with a strong disciplinary background in science and planning. How we are able to merge our disciplines and backgrounds to provide a viable, multi-disciplinary approach, and to develop better insights enhancing quality of life for people around the UK and internationally is the key issue that we will be jointly pursuing.'

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