Kate Orff, RLA, FASLA, is the Founding Principal of SCAPE. She focuses on retooling the practice of landscape architecture relative to the uncertainty of climate change and creating spaces to foster social life, which she has explored through publications, activism, research and projects. She is known for leading complex, creative and collaborative work processes that advance broad environmental and social prerogatives. In 2019, Kate was elevated to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Council of Fellows—one of the highest honors bestowed on landscape architects practicing in the U.S. She currently sits on the Commission on Accelerating Climate Action for the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as well as the Advisory Board for Urban Ocean Lab.
Kate was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2017, the first given in the field of landscape architecture. In 2019, she accepted a National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, on behalf of SCAPE, and was named a Hero of the Harbor by the Waterfront Alliance. She was a 2012 United States Artist Fellow, dubbed an Elle Magazine “Planet Fixer,” and has been profiled and interviewed extensively for publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, National Geographic and more.
Kate graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia with Distinction and earned a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University. She is also the Director of the Urban Design Program, Co-Director of the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (CRCL), and Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).
- Read Eric Klinenberg’s profile of Kate and SCAPE in The New Yorker.
- Watch Kate’s interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on the value of natural infrastructure.
Landscape Architect: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, South Carolina, Minnesota, Arkansas
Director, Master of Architecture and Urban Design Program, Columbia University GSAPP
Co-Director, Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (CRCL), Columbia University GSAPP
Professor, Columbia University GSAPP
MacArthur Fellow, 2017
USA Artist Fellow, 2012
American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture, 2015
Board & Advisory Roles
Advisor, Urban Ocean Lab
Member, Commission on Accelerating Climate Action, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Contributor, Committee on Infrastructure, Climate & Sustainability, NYC Mayoral Transition Team for Eric Adams
Additional honors include:
Urbanist of the Year, The Architect’s Newspaper, 2020
ASLA Council of Fellows, 2019
National Design Award, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2019
Waterfront Alliance, Hero of the Harbor, 2019
ASLA Professional Awards, Honor Award – Communications, Toward An Urban Ecology, 2017
Buckminster Fuller Challenge Winner, 2014
Rebuild by Design, Winning Team – Living Breakwaters, 2014
“Most Creative People,” Fast Company, 2014
National Academician, 2013
“Emerging Voice,” Architectural League of New York, 2012
Team Leader, MoMA “Rising Currents” Exhibit, 2010
“Toward an Urban Ecology” (Monacelli Press, 2016)
“Petrochemical America” (Aperture, 2012)
“Gateways: Visions for an Urban National Park” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011)