Ron Henderson, a landscape architect and educator with broad international experience, is the new head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and chair of Integrative Design in the H. Campbell and Eleanor R. Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, effective September 1.
Henderson came to Penn State from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, where he served for six years on the inaugural faculty in its Department of Landscape Architecture, attracted by the opportunity to build a new program at China’s oldest school of architecture. A licensed architect and landscape architect, he is the founder of L + A Landscape Architecture, an award-winning design practice with projects in North America, Europe and Asia.
Henderson’s international experience helped him to obtain a 2012 Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship, sponsored by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and administered by the National Endowment for the Arts. He was one of five artists selected from more than 200 applicants and the first landscape architect chosen since the fellowship was initiated in 1978. In spring 2012, he will travel and study cultural landscapes in Japan as an extension of his previous research.
Henderson previously taught at Rhode Island School of Design and Roger Williams University. He holds master of architecture and master of landscape architecture degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame. His teaching experience spans theory, ecology, landscape planning, hydrology, graduate theses and a decade of design studios.
“Ron’s interdisciplinary background and experience in collaborative work make him an ideal choice to lead the Department of Landscape Architecture, especially at a time when working across disciplines and professional boundaries is increasingly important,” said Barbara O. Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. “We are thrilled to have someone of Ron’s stature here in the College of Arts and Architecture.
Henderson has completed professional works in both Japan and China, including the China Pavilion roof garden, Jiuzhou Qingyan, at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. He was design consultant for the Beijing Olympic Forest Park (2008) that was recognized in 2009 by an American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for Design and the international Torsanlorenzo Prize for Landscape Architecture. He developed that project while completing work on his forthcoming book, The Garden of Suzhou, to be published in 2012 by the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Press and supported by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Among his current projects is a garden for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Laurie Olin, who had recruited Henderson to Tsinghua University, described him as “a bit of a wonder … as a scholar, a designer and a teacher. He is also a marvelous individual best characterized as the salt of the earth.”
Henderson said his goals include raising the profile of the Department of Landscape Architecture by guiding faculty toward publishing their research in academic journals, books and other media for audiences both inside and outside the profession, increasing the internationalization of the landscape architecture profession, and working with the faculty to advance the department’s graduate programs.