Earth Institute Staff Directory

Kate Orff

Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Director of the Masters of Science Architecture and urban Design Program; Director of Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes , Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation


BIOGRAPHY: Kate Orff’s activist and visionary work on design for climate dynamics has been shared and developed in collaboration with arts institutions, governments, and scholars worldwide. She is a Professor at Columbia GSAPP and Director of the Urban Design Program, where she coordinates complex interdisciplinary studios centered on urban systems of the future. Her design studios and seminars aim to discover new ways of integrating social life, infrastructure, urban form, biodiversity and community-based change. She was awarded a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship. Orff is a registered landscape architect and the founder of SCAPE, an award winning 30-person professional practice based in lower Manhattan, where she directs the design of all projects. The firm has won National and local American Society of Landscape Architecture Awards for built projects, planning and communications work, and the work of the office has been featured on the cover of Landscape Architecture magazine, LA China and Topos, and in The New York Times, New Yorker and Economist, among other publications.

As a Professor at Columbia and as a practicing professional, she has advanced concepts of sustainable planning and urban design at multiple scales. Her book and traveling exhibit with Richard Misrach titled PETROCHEMICAL AMERICA (Aperture Foundation, 2012) draws a cognitive map of climate change causes and effects and anticipates future planning challenges for the American landscape. Featuring photographs by Misrach, the book links the lived experience of communities, degraded extraction landscapes and public health issues in the lower Mississippi to national patterns of resource consumption and global waste.