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WVU to provide opportunity for students, community members to learn from Pittsburgh’s ‘Rust Belt revitalization’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Mellon Square, Susan RademacherOver the past few decades, the City of Pittsburgh has become “a model of Rust Belt revitalization,” and its revival, in large part, is due to the preservation and management of parks systems. West Virginia University will provide an opportunity for students and community members to learn valuable lessons from one of Pittsburgh’s distinguished environmental designers, who has been a key player in the city’s reinvention.

Susan Rademacher, parks curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, will serve as speaker for this year’s E. Lynn Miller Lecture at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, in Ballroom B of the Erickson Alumni Center.

Susan Rademacher, parks curator, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
“It is a great honor to welcome Susan to deliver our E. Lynn Miller Lecture,” said Peter Butler, associate professor of landscape architecture. “Her work with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy reveals all of the current themes in landscape architecture, including sustainability, urban ecology, adaptability of program to address new community needs, and the vital functions that parks and open space can play in contemporary life.” 

Butler, who often uses Pittsburgh as a hands-on learning site for his students, giving them opportunities to collaborate with other designers, planners and community members, says the city is “fast becoming a model of ‘rust belt’ revitalization” and “the lessons of maintaining and enhancing open spaces as a city reinvents itself is extraordinarily valuable.”

“In particular, new plans in industrial riverfront development and the integration of open space design and connectivity are shining examples of how landscape architecture can provide solutions in the ‘greening’ movement,” he said.

Rademacher, who has a successful track record of providing such solutions, will present “Beyond Panacea: Urban Parks as a Proving Ground.”

“Parks systems are enjoying a remarkable resurgence of their original importance to urban life,” Rademacher said.

“Once again, parks are featured in every competitive city’s portfolio, thanks in large part to the achievements of non-profit partnership organizations like the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, which has been a primary partner in improving parks for two decades and has taken a leadership role within Pittsburgh’s larger ‘greening’ effort, focusing on green infrastructure and sustainability,” she continued.

August Wilson Park, Susan Rademacher

Using specific case projects at a variety of scales, Rademacher will illustrate the value of building relationships with members of the community to cultivate stewardship –something that she says has “grown to include education programs that support a lifelong bond with nature, citizen science and an appreciation of the designed landscape.”

In Rademacher’s role as parks curator, she reveals, preserves and enhances the cultural significance of Pittsburgh parks by leading planning and design, conducting research, and communicating the value of parks through master planning and project design. She describes her work as being “rooted in an ethic of stewardship for cultural and natural resources.”

Previously, Rademacher was President of the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Assistant Director of Louisville Metro Parks. She was Editor in Chief of Landscape Architecture magazine (1984-1987), and a founding editor of Garden Design magazine. A graduate of Miami University and a Harvard GSD Loeb Fellow, her publications include Mellon Square: Discovering a Modern Masterpiece and Bold Romantic Gardens. She serves on the Stuckeman School Advisory Board at Penn State.

The annual E. Lynn Miller Lecture, hosted by the landscape architecture program in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design’s School of Design and Community Development, brings regionally, nationally, and internationally prominent speakers in the field of landscape architecture to the University to discuss current trends in outdoor public areas, landmarks and other structures. E. Lynn Miller, a 1953 WVU graduate who received a degree in horticulture with an emphasis in landscape architecture, endowed the lecture series in 2002.

The event is free and open to the public.


Pictured above, top to bottom: Cascading fountain at night, Mellon Square Park (Photo by Jeremy Marshall); Susan Rademacher; Vintage photographs from Pittsburgh native Charles "Teenie" Harris and Oliver M. Kaufmann, used in the redesign of August Wilson Park (formerly Cliffside Park). 

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CONTACT: Nikky Luna; WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design 304.293.2394; Nikky.Luna@mail.wvu.edu