2019's 'Genius' Designers

John Hill
25. September 2019
Walter Hood, left, and Emmanuel Pratt (Photos: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Landscape and public artist Walter Hood and urban designer Emmanuel Pratt are among the 26 MacArthur Fellows for 2019.

Looking for individuals with exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances, and potential for fellows to facilitate subsequent creative work, the annual MacArthur Fellows Program is "intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations." Each fellowship comes with $625,000 — no strings attached.

Architects, landscape architects, and urban designers — what the MacArthur Foundation groups under "Architecture and Environmental Design" — have always been in the minority of MacArthur "Genius" Fellows. With two fellows this year and two last year, the tide seems to be changing, particularly toward designers working with landscapes and in the urban realm.

Walter Hood

Walter Hood "is a landscape and public artist creating urban spaces that resonate with and enrich the lives of current residents while also honoring communal histories. Hood melds architectural and fine arts expertise with a commitment to designing ecologically sustainable public spaces that empower marginalized communities. Over his career, he has transformed traffic islands, vacant lots, and freeway underpasses into spaces that challenge the legacy of neglect of urban neighborhoods."

Emmanuel Pratt

Emmanuel Pratt "is an urban designer creating a model of resident-driven community development in neighborhoods that have suffered the effects of long-term disinvestment. Pratt is co-founder and executive director of the Sweet Water Foundation, a nonprofit organization based on Chicago’s South Side that engages local residents in the cultivation and regeneration of social, environmental, and economic resources in their neighborhoods."

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