The Landscape Architecture Section selected Kounkey Design Initiative (KDI) for the 2021 Glimcher Distinguished Visiting Professorship. KDI is an international organization comprised of architects, engineers, urban planners, and community organizers who work with community members to transform unused land into productive, sustainable community spaces, such as parks and public spaces for people of all ages.
Through the spring semester, KDI will work with undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture students in a studio conducted by Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Justin Parscher. Along with the rest of the landscape architecture section, the Glimcher Studio will take part in the national Green New Deal Superstudio.
“Students will engage with KDI’s example as a unique non-profit firm that specializes in working with underserved communities,” commented Parscher. “We will document KDI’s working methods and join with them to help jumpstart a new public space project in Los Angeles.”
Students will then explore how to apply KDI’s working methods to the problem of the Green New Deal. A goal of the studio will be to answer the question, ‘If the first Green New Deal was inequitable and short-lived despite its successes, how could a new model of landscape design services contribute to a more inclusive and lasting program of national redesign?’
Founded in 2006, and with offices in Nairobi, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and North Shore, KDI works with under-resourced communities to design and build “Productive Public Spaces.” From permanent parks to temporary vacant lot activations, each space integrates key amenities such as community buildings, water and sanitation facilities, green infrastructure, and open spaces for recreation and exercise.
KDI’s pioneering approach to design and community development has been recognized by The Rockefeller Foundation, UN Habitat, The Atlantic Renewal Project, Ashoka Changemakers, American Express, Annenberg Alchemy, and Smithsonian Institute, among others.
KDI projects include Kibera Public Space Project (Kibera, Nairobi, Knenya, 2006 - ongoing), ECV Public Space Network (Coachella Valley, Califorinia, USA, 2011 - ongoing), World Bank Group handbook for Gender-Inclusive Urban Planning and Design (D.C. and Los Angeles, USA, 2019 - 2020), Gendered Spaces (La Favorita, Mendoza, Argentina, 2018), KDI-KEFRI Carpentry Academy (Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, 2016 - ongoing).
As part of the Baumer Conversations Series, KDI will engage with Knowlton faculty on their community-focused work on Wednesday, February 3 at 5:30 pm. The discussion will be broadcast live to the public on the Knowlton School’s YouTube channel.
For more than a decade, the Glimcher Distinguished Visiting Professorship is held each year by an internationally acclaimed practitioner in the field of landscape architecture. Previous Glimcher Professors have included Dominique Ghiggi, Mikyoung Kim, Walter Hood, João Nunes, Jennifer Guthrie and Shannon Nichol, Michel Desvigne, and Michael Van Valkenburgh.