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photo of Anuradha Mathur smiling in blue jacket in a room full of other people.

03.14.22 – In memoriam: Anuradha Mathur (1960–2022)

The Daniels Faculty and the University of Toronto are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Anuradha (Anu) Mathur. The esteemed landscape architect and professor passed away on February 26 in Philadelphia. She was 62 years old.

As Professor Emeritus in the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Pennsylvania, Mathur’s work focused on the scarcity and excess of water in landscapes, especially how those conditions are affected through its visualization and engagement across design, policy and research.

“Anu’s work has had a profound impact on our discipline,” says Prof. Jane Wolff of the Daniels Faculty. “Her understanding of water — at once poetic and practical — changed the way we thought about land.”

Along with Dilip da Cunha, her work and life partner, Mathur undertook projects across a wide span of cultural milieus, in places such as Mumbai, Jerusalem, the Western Ghats of India, Sundarbans, coastal Virginia and, most recently, the U.S.–Mexico border.

Together, Mathur and da Cunha co-authored a number of highly influential 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). They also co-edited Design in the Terrain of Water (2014).

“Anu had such a brilliant and talented mind,” says Prof. Alissa North. “I continue to point out her and Dilip’s work to students, and am always amazed at how relevant the early work remains. I feel very fortunate that I was able to learn from her incredible thinking when I took a class she taught as a guest professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She will be greatly missed in the academic community.”

As pioneers in their fields, Mathur and da Cunha received numerous awards and were frequently invited to speak in academic and professional forums around the world. Among the venues at which they’ve presented their work are the IFLA Conference in Bangkok and GIDEST Seminar at the New School in New York. They have also created forums for others to present work, including the 2011–2012 international symposium titled In the Terrain of Water, held at Penn Design.

In 2017, they were awarded a Pew Fellowship Grant.

“Anu was a generous colleague and educator, a fierce critic, and an intellectual force that changed the landscape and design disciplines,” says Prof. Fadi Masoud. “She taught us new ways of seeing, understanding and communicating the dynamism and complexity of the world around us. Her teachings will stay with us for a long time to come.” 

Mathur and da Cunha were scheduled to deliver the 2022 Hough Critic lecture at the Daniels Faculty on March 22. This event has been cancelled.

“On behalf of the Daniels Faculty MLA Program, I would like to express my deep sadness for Anu Mathur’s tragic passing and for her family’s loss,” says Liat Margolis, MLA Program Director. “She will be terribly missed, but her grace, generosity and intellectual influence will live on. Mathur and da Cunha will still be named as our 2022 Hough Critic honorees, and we hope to pay tribute to their work in the coming year.”