Alison B. Hirsch, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
M.L.A., University of Pennsylvania
M.S. (Historic Preservation), University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Art & Art History, Wesleyan University
partner, foreground design agency
Research areas: cultural landscapes; spatial politics of landscape architecture; contested urban landscapes; activist design methods; practices of representation; landscape's intersections with performance, choreography and corporeality
Alison B. Hirsch is a landscape theorist and designer, as well as urban historian. Both her design and written work focus on how the interpretation of sociocultural practices and marginalized histories and memories can contribute to the design of meaningful urban places. This research expands into: design in areas of sociospatial conflict and developing design methods and visualization practices that take cues from ethnography, choreography and public space studies.
Her recent book, titled City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America, was released by University of Minnesota Press in April 2014 (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/city-choreographer) and received grant support from the Foundation for Landscape Studies (David R. Coffin Publication Grant) and the Graham Foundation. The book provides an analysis of the creative process landscape architect Lawrence Halprin developed with his wife, dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin, and how aspects of this process have the potential to enrich contemporary approaches to structuring the city. It has additionally provided a foundation for Alison's ongoing research on participatory methods that contribute productively to the creative design process.
Alison is co-founder of foreground design agency, a transdisciplinary practice operating between the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism, and the visual arts (www.foreground-da.com). Recipient of numerous recognitions, including prize-winners of the Pruitt Igoe Now competition, foreground provides Alison a platform to test her research in applied action. Prior to initiating her own practice, Alison worked in the design offices of W-Architecture and Landscape Architecture and James Corner Field Operations in New York City.
Alison recently co-edited a book of essays by James Corner, titled The Landscape Imagination (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014) and has published in numerous journals including Landscape Journal, the Journal of Architectural Education, and Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. With her partner at foreground, she has authored essays about the firm’s design research in International Journal of Interior Architecture and Spatial Design (January 2014) and Wildproject: A Journal of Environmental Studies (forthcoming Spring 2015).
Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Alison taught landscape architecture theory and design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, University of Virginia and University of Toronto.