Emeritus; Director of Rust2Green, Department of Global Development
Paula Horrigan is an Emerita Professor of Landscape Architecture dedicated to examining and fostering the theory and practice of placemaking through her community-engaged teaching, research and outreach.
- Fellow (2016) Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture
- Elected Fellow (2015) American Society of Landscape Architects
- Fellow (2013) Atkinson Center for Sustainable Futures
- George E. Levy Award for Engaged Teaching and Learning (2016) Cornell University Engaged Learning and Research
- EDRA Great Places Book Award (2015) Environmental Design Research Association
Areas of Expertise
Community Based Planning And Design, Community-Engaged Learning, Democratic Design, Interior Design, Intypes, Landscape Representation, Participatory Action Research, Place and Landscape Representation, Placemaking & Place Theory, Place-Based Design Projects, Teaching & Learning, Service-Learning, Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development, Typology, Visual Landscape Books
- MLA, Cornell University, 1987
- BA, Brown University, 1979
Phenomenological Landscape Representation: An ongoing focus of Professor Horrigan's is speculative creative research represented frequently through public exhibition venues and concerned with place-based phenomenological landscape representation–what she calls visual landscape books. Visual books act as a representational mode for both knowing and creating landscapes by conveying the experiential, spatial and temporal aspects of landscape. As place-based narrative structures, these book works turn viewers into engaged participants. This consciously cultural approach promotes a vision for landscape architecture that embraces depth, community connection, staying power, and environmental sustainability. Each visual book presents a unique “site immersion” into a landscape’s dynamic, place-specific conditions.
Community Engaged Research, Education and Practice towards Fostering Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Places
Community-engaged design education, research and practice that promotes and fosters the making and sustaining of democratic, sustainable and resilient places- sites, neighborhoods, cities, regions- is a connective thread in Professor Horrigan’s oft integrated and interdependent research and education agenda. Professor Horrigan defines herself as fitting the tradition of the “public scholar” and “action researcher” (Peters, 2010) and is committed to creative intellectual design work in the context of public community settings wherein she can facilitate knowledge exchange and co-produce knowledge and products with others (community partners) that foster resilient, democratic and sustainable communities and simultaneously advance and add value to both public and academic realms. Her emphasis on placemaking, participatory and community design, democratic professionalism and sustainable community development also aims to influence and impact the realm of the design and planning professions. Professor Horrigan believes that the theories and practices of placemaking and democratically engaged design are essential knowledge for designers acting to realize sustainability’s social, environmental and economic purposes through their actions and creations. Placemaking and community-engaged education and research, she believes, are vital to fostering greater ecological democracy, community sustainability and a more sustainable world. Both the Rust to Green NY Action Research Project and the Erasing Boundaries Project exemplify Professor Horrigan's philosophy and approach in action.
Rust to Green NY Action Research Project
Professor Horrigan leads the Rust to Green NY Action Research Project (R2G) which aims to support the renewal and revitalization of NY’s post-industrial cities and their shift from “rust” to “green” sustainable, resilient and prosperous places. Urban resilience, sustainable community development, placemaking, democratic professionalism, and community engaged research and education form a set of companion theories and practices informing Rust to Green’s approach to fostering community sustainability and resilience. Growing and developing resilience and sustainability, over time, from within a particular place’s unique environmental, economic, and social context takes time and requires approaches that also foster sustainability and resilience along the way.
Seed monies from a 3-year USDA Hatch Grant facilitated R2G’s launch in early 2010. Since that time R2G has been at work in the City of Utica, NY and surrounding Oneida County where a robust Rust to Green Utica network continues to develop and expand. As has been demonstrated in Utica, R2G works to interconnect academic and community knowledge networks inclusive of university students and faculty, community members, professionals, extension educators, and others. By leveraging these knowledge networks and cultivating their ability to colearn and act together, knowledge and actions fostering sustainable development and resilience are generated.
In Utica, there are a wide range of projects and outcomes attributable to R2G. They include the launch and development of the Mohawk Valley Food Action Network (MVFAN) and the region’s first Food Policy Advisory Council to promote the development of a sustainable and resilient area food system. The design and planning for the Kemble Park Project and the MLK Sustainable Schoolyard (I Have a DREAMscape) in Utica’s Cornhill neighborhood are examples of community-driven efforts aimed at revitalizing distressed neighborhoods and promoting individual and community health and well-being. The One World Garden project aims to promote the resilience and community integration of refugee populations comprising more than one sixth of Utica’s current population. Green infrastructure projects and improvements have been undertaken at Utica City Hall, the Oneida Square Roundabout, and downtown’s Liberty Bell Park. Since 2010, approximately 40 Rust to Green Civic Fellowships have been awarded to university students engaging in 8-week summer internships working with community partners on R2G Utica projects. Finally, the participation of a valuable knowledge network – Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Oneida County – has led to establishing a CCE R2G Utica Program Area to help support and develop R2G Utica as it continues to unfold. And recent funding (2014) from the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is helping to launch the Rust to Green Urban Planning Studio in Utica’s City Hall as a partnership between Rust to Green NY, Rust to Green Utica, CCE and the City of Utica, NY.
Erasing Boundaries Project
Professor Horrigan joined a small group of colleagues from several peer institutions in 2006 to launch the Erasing Boundaries Project (www.erasingboundaries.psu.edu). At the time it was apparent that while educators had begun to form community-based service-learning networks in many other fields, no formalized academic networks existed expressly for planning and design. Erasing Boundaries was activated to fill this gap and collectively chart a course for increasing the overall effectiveness and visibility of design and planning educators, researchers and community partners working with and supporting communities to address real world problems and needs.
Since its inception Professor Horrigan has played a pivotal role in developing and directing the Erasing Boundaries Project and network, which she currently co-leads. She had a lead role in convening two international Erasing Boundaries (EB) symposia to share, disseminate and profile community- engaged teaching and research in landscape architecture, architecture and planning. She currently co-leads EB with Penn State U. Professor Mallika Bose and continues to work to develop a robust peer academic community, culture and retrievable peer-reviewed record for the knowledge and contributions of service-learning and community engaged educators and scholars. In 2011, Horrigan and co-editors published Educating at the Boundaries: Service-Learning in Design and Planning (New Village, 2011) and a second volume she also co-edited, Community Matters: Service-Learning and Engaged Design and Planning, is forthcoming in 2014 (Earthscan, 2014). Through her books and papers presented at conferences and leadership as the Service-Learning and Community Engagement Track Chair for the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Horrigan is working to develop a scholarly record of community-engaged design and planning education and research. She is currently a Fellow of Cornell’s Engaged Learning and Research (EL&R) working on the Engaged Scholarship Project with her own Rust to Green Capstone Studio as a focus.
Together with Mallika Bose at Pennsylvania State University, I am currently undertaking a Democratic Design Practitioner Profiles research project. We are conducting interviews and compiling narrative profiles of individuals with significant experience in community-engaged design education, practice and/or research and a commitment to strengthening and developing community-engaged design's value, purposes and relevance to education and practice. Through this study we are seeking to better understand the experience and practice of community-engaged design/planning academic and practice-based professionals whose work directly engages such topics as democracy, civic education, democratic professionalism, participatory community design and development, equity, placemaking, public life, design activism, public interest design and environmental justice. This research aims to document and bring visibility to the contributions community-engaged design and planning educators, researchers and practitioners are making and about the value of the community-engagement agenda in design and planning academia and practice. Upwards of 30-40 people will take part in this research study nationwide.
The Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project
Landscape Architecture Professor Paula Horrigan has been one of four Cornell faculty comprising the interdisciplinary research group of the Intypes Project since its inception in 1997. The Intypes Project (Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project), initiated in 1997 by Professor Jan Jennings in Cornell's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, creates a typology of contemporary interior design practices derived from reiterative historical designs that span time and style and cross cultural boundaries. The project identifies design traits that have not been named, providing designers with an interior-specific, historical, and contemporary design vocabulary. The project’s methodological and theoretical approaches create new knowledge from the creative dimension of design rather than from behavioral studies.
Advancing the field of placemaking and place-based community design and planning has been one at the core of Horrigan's extension and outreach work. Horrigan believes that truly engaged participatory community design relies on partnering, co-learning and reciprocity between all involved. She positions the designer as a "democratic professional," (Dzur, 2008) collaborator and co-creator with, nor for, the community with whom she works. Effectively engaging community members in the process of design and planning not only results in more fitting place-based solutions and outcomes but also builds their capacity to implement projects and sustain long-term revitalization efforts. This engagement requires changing the way we learn and practice design and invites dramatic shifts away from the traditional approaches we have used to educate, engage and activate participatory citizenry.
Horrigan's work with local communities aims to build local capacity and resilience and overall sustainability especially in New York State's cities, villages and towns. Her work, through Rust to Green NY, which she leads, is particularly focused on NY state's post-industrial distressed cities and neighborhoods where access to resources and professional design and planning support is often unavailable or limited. Her activities integrate placemaking with sustainable community design and planning knowledge to evaluate, assess and envision environmental design solutions that also foster and reinforce greater place attachment and sense of place for inhabitants. She uses participatory place-based community design and action research approaches that foster collective dialogue,problem-solving and design. Through such an approach the aim is to create actionable and implementable design and planning proposals across a myriad of scales including neighborhoods, districts, parks and open space systems, downtowns and main streets to name a few. Constituents include municipalities and governmental agencies, citizen groups, schools, healthcare facilities and local non-profit agencies.
At the village and rural community scale, the Trumansburg Main Street falls into the category of an action-research design project, whereby from the start, Horrigan engaged participation by the community as a cornerstone of the project. Horrigan's Trumansburg Main Street's Engaged Community Project engaged thousands of local citizens as active participants in deciding the future of their community. It filled the expertise gap so frequently experienced in rural government, by organizing a cadre of local citizens willing to provide pro-bono professional expertise in such areas as graphic design, marketing, economic development, architecture, planning and landscape architecture. The project incorporated research and reflection on how to engage a community in civic projects, as opposed to top-down decision making about what a community needs. The Main Street Project broke ground in 2006 and continues to transform downtown Trumansburg into a more pedestrian-friendly and revitalized atmosphere.
At the urban scale, Horrigan's Rust to Green NY Action Research Project is working to assist municipal, non-profit and community groups and citizenry, particularly in Utica NY and other post-industrial cities, in identifying actionable planning and design projects and methods to address their needs and foster greater community resilience and renewal. Rust to Green's work is being integrated with Horrigan's teaching where she annually engages her Capstone Rust to Green Design Studio students in undertaking projects working with community partners. Students are collaborating with partners to undertake planning and design projects resulting in built projects or in other tangible outcomes for leveraging subsequent funding and implementation. Rust to Green is working closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County in the Mohawk Valley Region and is also making plans for activating Rust to Green in other parts of New York State.
At the site scale, Horrigan's award-winning design and execution of the Ithaca Hospicare Gardens in Ithaca, New York, provides a restorative landscape setting and experience for the terminally ill, their families, and their caretakers, through its powerful integration between facility and site. Horrigan spearheaded and managed this project in concert with hospice caregivers, volunteers, neighbors, organizations and community groups who all came together to develop, fundraise, and fully realize the healing and restorative landscape and gardens for NY State's first neighborhood residential hospice facility.
Through these projects and others Horrigan has brought people with vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints together to establish priorities for their communities and ultimately to collaborate, partner and take action on transforming and revitalizing them.
In her teaching, Professor Horrigan advocates for place-based design theory and practices, action-research, service learning and community-based, student-directed teaching and learning. Resonating through all her teaching is an emphasis on "place" and placemaking which emphasizes the dynamic interplay of 1) human and social activities and behaviors with 2) physical and material environmental settings and 3) meaning-making or "sense of place".
In her theory seminar, Placemaking By Design, Professor Horrigan introduces the theory and practice of contemporary place-based design at the planning, community and site scale. Such place-based theories and practices align with her adoption of the pedagogy of service-learning combined with the methods and practices of engaged teaching, learning and scholarship. Horrigan designed and delivered, for many years, a participatory Community Design Studio where landscape architecture majors partnered with community organizations on real projects. Action Research Design Projects undertaken with her students have included streetscape redesign, downtown revitalization, public park design, and "landscapes for learning" on school grounds and educational environments.
Since 2011 Professor Horrigan has been offering a semester-long studio course known as the Rust to Green Capstone Studio that integrates with her larger Rust to Green NY Action Research Project and its aim of fostering greater resilience and sustainability in NY's post-industrial communities. This engaged service-learning course involves students in community engaged place-based design and planning projects undertaken in partnership with R2G community groups and agencies. The studio focuses on teaching and learning the theories and practices of placemaking and participatory community design, sustainable community development and democratic professionalism while engaging in a planning and design project that addresses identified community needs in targeted R2G NY partner cities. To date, the R2G Capstone Studio has worked with R2G Utica community partners on generating design and planning visions and proposals for Kemble Park, One World Garden, Liberty Park and Chancellor Park. Horrigan is also engaging graduate and undergraduate students in longer term thesis projects working with Rust to Green community projects.
Another ongoing focus of Professor Horrigan’s teaching and research is concerned with place-based phenomenological landscape representation. She uses "visual books" in her teaching and also as part of her own speculative research practice. Visual books act as a representational mode for both knowing and creating landscapes by conveying the experiential, spatial and temporal realities of landscape. As place-based narrative structures, these book works turn viewers into engaged participants. This consciously cultural approach promotes a vision for landscape architecture that embraces depth, community connection, staying power, and environmental sustainability. Each work presents a unique “site immersion” into a landscape’s dynamic, place-specific conditions.
- Horrigan, P. H., & Bose, M. (2018). Towards Democratic Professionalism in Landscape Architecture. Defining Landscape Democracy: A Path to Spatial Justice S. Egoz, S.K. Jørgensen, T. Richardson, & D. Ruggeri (ed.), Edward Elgar Publishing, United Kingdom.
- Horrigan, P. H. (2014). Rust to Green: Cultivating Resilience in the Rust Belt. p. pp. 167-185 Community Matters: Service-Learning In Engaged Design and Planning Bose, M., Horrigan, P., Doble, C. and Shipp, S. (ed.), Routledge Earthscan, New York: New York.
- Horrigan, P. H., & Raymer, A. (2014). Using Theory of Change for Democratic Purpose in a Community-based Design Studio. p. pp. 15-23 Service-Learning in Higher Education: Building Community Across the Globe Lin, P., Wiegand M. and Smith-Tolken, A. (ed.), University of Indianapolis Press, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
- Horrigan, P. H., & Bose, M. (2014). Why Community Matters. p. PP. 1-21 Community Matters: Service-Learning In Engaged Design and Planning Bose, M., Horrigan, P., Doble, C. and Shipp, S. (ed.), Routledge Earthscan, New York: New York.
- Horrigan, P. H., Bose, M., Doble, C., & Shipp , S. (2014). Community Matters: Service-Learning in Engaged Design and Planning. Community Matters: Service-Learning In Engaged Design and Planning Bose, M., Horrigan, P., Doble, C. and Shipp, S. (ed.), Routledge Earthscan, New York: New York.
- Horrigan, P. H., & Oles, T. (2015). Learning to land, landing to learn: On fieldwork in landscape architecture education. G. Miin & H. Sekhar Mishra (ed.), Proceedings of: Landscapes in flux: Conference of the Council of European Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS), Proceedings of: Landscapes in flux: Conference of the Council of European Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS), Tartu, Estonia 48-51 p.
- Horrigan, P. H., Langhorst, J., Palmer, J., Lavoie, C., & Kambic, K. (2013). Exploratory Physiocartographies of Place and Time. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2012 Conference. Ming-Han Li, Editor (ed.), Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2012 Conference, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2012 Conference, University of Illinois p.10 p.
- Horrigan, P. H., Jennings, J., & Scolere, L. (2013). Intypes: Identifying, Defining, and Naming Interior Archetypes. Environmental Design Research Association, Environmental Design Research Association, McClean, Virginia.
- Horrigan, P. H. (2013). Service-Learning in Design/Planning: Taking Stock of Where We Are and Charting Our Future. Environmental Design Research Association, Environmental Design Research Association, McClean, Virginia.
- Horrigan, P. H., & Bose, M. Practitioner profiles: Civic lives, motivations and habits of practice [abstract]. 2015; Madison, Wisconsin: Environmental Design Research Association; p. 206- 207.
Presentations and Activities
- Rust to Green. Sustainable Communities: Placemaking & Food Systems Conference. July 2016. Buffalo Offiece of the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Cornell University.
- Activist Scholar/Practitioners Forging and Guiding the Way Towards Democratic Design. Innovation: Shifting Ground. May 2016. Environmental Design Research Association, EDRA47Raleigh. Raleigh, NC.
- The restructuring of public space: The tabula rasa transformation of the Ithaca Commons. Dillema: Debate. March 2016. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture . Salt Lake City, UT.
- Navigating an epistemological turn toward democratic design. Dillema: Debate. March 2016. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA). Salt Lake City, UT.
- Fieldwork: Definition, History, Ethics. Dilemma: Debate. March 2016. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture . Salt Lake City, UT.
- Community design: origins, approaches, directions. Landscape Democracy On-Line Seminar . November 2015. Nurtingen-Geislingen University Faculty of Landscape Architecture . Stuttgart, Germany .
- Rust to Green. Environmental Science and Sustainability Colloquium, . October 2015. Cornell University . Cornell University.
- Surveying the Field: Community Engaged Education and Practice in Design. America Will Be! The Art and Power of “Weaving our We” . October 2015. Imagining America 2015 Conference: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. Baltimore, Maryland.
- Learning to land, landing to learn: On fieldwork in landscape architecture education. Landscapes in Flux. September 2015. Conference of the Council of European Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS) . Tartu, Estonia, Estonia.
- Creative Placemaking. NYS Clerks Institute . July 2015. Community & Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) . Cornell University.
275J Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
phh3 [at] cornell.edu
Paula in the news
Project leaders are encouraging all members of the Utica community to contribute to the University's online evaluation before its conclusion on April 12 by going to: https://participant.groupwisdom.tech/project/836/brainstorming. Recognizing the...
- Department of Global Development
- Natural Resources and the Environment
- Landscape Architecture