IFLA 2015 SGJA AWARDEE
Mario Schjetnan was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and studied architecture at the National University of Mexico, graduating in 1968. From 1968 to 1970, he studied Landscape Architecture with an emphasis in Urban Design at the prestigious Ivy League University of California, Berkeley. His mentors during this period were well known figures such as Garret Eckbo, Donald Appleyard and Robert Twiss, each respectively in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Urban studies, and Environmental studies.
In 1984, he received the Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. In 1995, the Univsersidad Autónoma de Nuevo Léon awarded him an Honorary PhD in Architecture.
As Chief of Urban Design and Housing at the National Institute of Housing for Workers (INFONAVIT) in Mexico (1972-1977), he worked on the development of national design policies in urban design and low income housing developments.
In 1977 Mario Schjetnan founded the office Grupo de Diseño Urbano (GDU) in which he has been involved ever since. The office has undertaken a wide range of projects at several different scales, including parks, plazas, housing developments, museums and cultural centres, as well as environmental and urban plans in Mexico, USA, South America and the Middle East. His influence, therefore, spreads far beyond his country of origin.
Mario Schjetnan is a prominent Professor and Guest Speaker at many universities and other institutions in Mexico and around the world. Among these posts can be cited: Visiting Design Critic in Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University (1994, 1998 and 2005); Professor at the Architecture College of the National University of Mexico (1999); Director of the Landscape Architecture Department and Professor in Practice at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona at Tucson(1999-2001); Visiting professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of California at Berkeley (2002); Professor at the School of Architecture of the University of Texas at Austin (2006); Visiting professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (2007-2008); Professor at Mexican Universities at different times, such as Universidad Iberoamericana, ITESO Guadalajara, University of Baja California and Universidad del Bajío, Aguascalientes.
As a Speaker, Schjetnan is no stranger to IFLA World Congresses. He has participated widely at different seminars and conferences, of which the most relevant include the IFLA World Congress in Mexico City, Mexico (1994); IFLA World Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1997), IFLA Regional Congress in Mexico City, Mexico (2007), AILA National Conference at Brisbane, Australia (2004), Water and Urban Environment Forum at Yangshow, China (2005), Universita Roma TRE, Rome, Italy (2003); IILA National Congress, Dublin (2007); and ISLA National Congress, Tel Aviv, Israel (2009); and National Landscape Architecture Congress Mexico (2013)
Mario’s work has been recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, including two Presidential Awards. He has been awarded numerous prizes such as the Gran Premio Latino americano at the Architecture Biennial of Buenos Aires; and the Lorenzo Prize by UIA in Italy. In Mexico he has been recognised several times, winning a Gold Medal at the Biennial de Arquitectura Mexicana and numerous Silver Medals, as well as the main prize of the III Mexican Biennial of Landscape Architecture.
In addition to his professional and academic prowess, Mario has been actively involved in promoting the profession of Landscape Architecture. He was a founding member of The Mexican Society of Landscape Architects in 1972, and President in 1985-1986. He currently sits on the Honor Council. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and is one of four Illustrious Advisers to the Latin American Initiative (LALI).
To add to this list of prestigious appointments, he is also Emeritus Fellow of the National Academy of Architecture. In 2013, he was named a member of the Mexican Academy of Arts, one of only 7 architects in the architecture category. This prestigious position is by invitation only, and is a lifetime appointment.
The most representative projects of Mario Schjetnan comprise Tezozomac Park which was completed in 1982, Xochimilco Ecological Park in 1993, and the Rehabilitation of Chapultepec Park , all in Mexico City. His most recent award winning work in Mexico City is the Natural Garden at the Bicentennial Parkin 2010. El Cedazo Recreational and Cultural Park in Aguascalientes, Mexico was completed in 1995. Schjetnan also worked on the Malinalco Golf Club in 1993, the Museum of Northern Cultures of Mexico in Chihuahua in 1995, as well as several projects in the USA such as Union Point Park in Oakland California in 2005, Small Tribute to Immigrant Workers at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens in Sonoma, California in 2004.
As far as publications are concerned, Mario Schjetnan has published in several books and professional magazines such as Landscape Architecture Magazine. He has also been featured in several books by others, such as Mario Schjetnan: Ten Landscapes by James Grayson Truelove (2002) and the most recent Mario Schjetnan: Urban Environment and Landscape (2012) by Jimena Martignoni and Roberto Segre. Significantly, the project of Tezozomoc Park was published by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in his famous book The Landscape of Man.
As an academic, he enhances the thinking towards a new way of designing landscapes, an approach which is much more committed to nature, sustainability and the challenges of society in the 21st Century. The Jury felt that Mario Schjetnan’s contribution did indeed have ” …a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of society and the environment and on the promotion of the profession of landscape architecture.”
Mario Schjetnan was selected out of a group of four finalists sent by the Nomination Committee to the Award Jury. Deliberation was long and difficult given the high quality of all the finalists.