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.
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.
Outreach and Extension Focus
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 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.
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.
Awards and Honors
- 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
- 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.