Community development, environmental restoration, and educational reform must go hand in hand.
We seek partnerships among advocates for each in order to combine forces and resources. We believe that youth have a crucial role to play in this process. This conviction comes from three decades of work in low-income communities on projects that simultaneously address issues of poverty, race, deteriorated neighborhoods, polluted water, and troubled schools.
West Philadelphia Landscape Project
Home > Resources > Courses > Urban Landscape Design Studio: Mill Creek
Urban Landscape Design Studio: Mill Creek
University of Pennsylvania, 1988
The first WPLP-affiliated studio on West Philadelphia's Mill Creek.


In Fall 1988, Anne Spirn and Gary Smith led the class of fourteen students from six countries: Argentina, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand and the United States.

The semester began with a weekend stay in the homes of individual community gardeners, including Hayward Ford, president of Aspen Farms and Blanche Epps of Gesthemane Community Garden. In this way, students got to know their clients (the first assignment was to design an addition to Aspen Farms). Students presented their designs to the gardeners, who chose one for construction, a new "Main Street" for Aspen Farms.

For the rest of the semester, students proposed and designed independent projects for the Mill Creek neighborhood, which they presented at the end of the term.

The students proposed an innovative final presentation. They embraced theater as a medium for presenting their ideas. The final presentation was a scripted performance, "Buried Streams, Vacant Land and Community: Strategies for Landscape Change in West Philadelphiaā€¯ to which they invited public officials and community residents. The critique was provided by a panel, which included faculty, staff of the Philadelphia Planning Commission and Redevelopment Authority, and a community resident.

View the syllabus (coming soon)