Anuradha (Anu) Mathur, a professor emeritus of landscape architecture in the Weitzman School of Design, passed away on February 28. She was 61.
Born and raised in India, Prof. Mathur obtained a BArch in 1986 from the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad, India, then received an MLA (master’s degree in landscape architecture) in 1991 from Penn’s Weitzman School of Design. Three years after graduating, she joined the faculty of Penn’s landscape architecture department as an assistant professor. In 2003, she was promoted to associate professor, and she became a full professor in 2012. At Penn, she taught a series of studios and courses that challenged Western ideas about wildness, wetness, nature, and culture. On trips to Mumbai, Jerusalem, and the U.S.-Mexico border, among others, she challenged her students to think differently about the landscape and their role as designers. Prof. Mathur was engaged with the Penn community, serving on Faculty Senate and University Council committees during her entire tenure and receiving University Research Foundation (URF) grants to study landscape architecture adjacent to the Ganges River and to map the flood plains of the Mississippi River. She retired from Penn in the summer of 2021.
To maintain a connection with her native India, Prof. Mathur co-founded a firm with her husband, Dilip da Cunha. “With rising seas, flooding cities, polluted rivers, piling wastes, and widening inequalities, we believe that ubiquitous wetness in place of the land-water binary holds the way forward,” they wrote. “It is an exciting pre-disciplinary ground of design by which we re-articulate the past, experience the present, and envision the future.” Prof. Mathur and Dr. da Cunha exhibited around the world and published several books, including Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006); and Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009). In 2011 and 2012, they curated In the Terrain of Water, an international symposium, at the Weitzman School. They won several awards, including a Pew Fellowship in 2017, which recognized their collaborative work imagining new possibilities for the design of the built environment and challenging the lines separating land and water, urban and rural, formal and informal environments.
Prof. Mathur is survived by her husband, Dilip da Cunha, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. To read several Weitzman School faculty’s remembrances of Prof. Mathur, visit https://www.design.upenn.edu/news/remembering-anu-mathur.