You are here:Home/Research/ Mellon Initiatives/ Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies/ Midday Dialogues/ Shape the Earth: Landscape Architecture in the Anthropocene

Shape the Earth: Landscape Architecture in the Anthropocene

November 29, 2016 | John Davis & Jeanne Haffner

Territory for a New Economy. Andrea Branzi, Strijp Philips Masterplan, 1999

John Davis is a sixth-year PhD candidate at Harvard University and Tyler fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. He studies the North American built environment and landscape, particularly the effects of technology and engineering systems on landscapes and ecological regions. His dissertation is a historical analysis of the U.S. government’s evolving relationship with nature, focusing on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the construction of public works, and the technological communities that supported them, in the Reconstruction Era.

His ongoing research interests include early modern surveying and cartography, historical coastal reclamation practices, infrastructure design and construction in extreme environments, the effects of militarization of landscapes, nature and aesthetics in the early American republic, literature and constructed landscapes, and more generally, the relationship between design, construction, and environment in the modern Americas. In addition to his dissertation, he is currently working on a digital atlas of water infrastructure in the Potomac Valley, and a documentary film about marshlands in Massachusetts. He was born in New York City and holds a BS from the University of Virginia and a Master in Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University.

Jeanne Haffner is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. A historian of urbanism and the environment, her work brings together environmental history, the history of science and technology, science and technology studies (STS), and urban planning history and theory. She is the author of The View from Above: The Science of Social Space (MIT Press, 2013), an exploration of how the military technique of aerial photography shaped the discourse surrounding the problem of housing and the suburbs in postwar France. The book was supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and showcased in the exhibit New Work on Aerial Vision at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2013. Haffner’s writings on contemporary urbanism have appeared in The Guardian, BBC Radio 3, Next American City magazine, ArchitectureBoston, and Arch+ magazine, among other publications. She has been a visiting fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the ETH (Zürich), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin) and the Center for Metropolitan Studies (Berlin), and has taught at Brown and Harvard Universities.