Distinguished Professor Brian Orland discusses human/environment relationships

Brian Orland is Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “The relationship between human beings and the landscape is so intimate, and is so fraught with challenges, that it is easy for us to ruin the values that we really seek in the environment,” according to Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture Brian Orland. Whether in Marcellus gas fields in the U.S. or in the poorest nations of Africa, he says, “we’re trying to show communities that they can have both economic development and beautiful environments. What is needed is an added ingredient in the thought processes behind that development—some design forethought.”

Orland discusses his work in a video interview, one of a series of interviews produced by the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture with its Evan Pugh Professors and Distinguished Professors as part of the college's 50th anniversary celebration in 2013.

Orland came to Penn State in 2000 as head of the Department of Landscape Architecture. He later served as the first director of the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. A registered architect since 1977, he has worked in private practice in the United Kingdom, East Africa and Central America. Practicing in landscape architecture and planning since 1981, his work has included urban redevelopment in economically devastated East St. Louis, Ill., and tourism development planning in the rich cultural contexts of Northern India.

Brian Orland is Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture. 

His research interests include environmental perception and the computer modeling of environmental impacts. Studies have included the impacts of highway development, of insect pest impacts and logging on national forests, and of the effects of military training activities on natural and rural landscapes. He continues to focus on the role environment plays in people's well-being and the development of visualization and analysis tools that support that exploration.

Current funded research includes studies of the effects of natural gas exploration and extraction in northern Pennsylvania on human health, funded by the National Science Foundation; as part of a major research hub on energy-efficient building, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; and studies of public perceptions of stormwater management practices, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. With Larry Gorenflo, he conducts research and service-learning in Tanzania on reconciling the needs for economic, health and social development in a growing human community alongside a national park of exceptional biodiversity conservation value. In addition, he co-directs StudioLab (, an inter-college arts-science collaboration.

Among numerous other honors, in 2013 he was elected Fellow of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, and in 2012, won the Outstanding Administrator Award from the same organization.

Click here for the interview.


Last Updated July 29, 2017