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Karl Linn, Landscape Architect

Mr. Karl Linn, a former assistant professor of landscape architecture, died of leukemia on February 3 at the age of 81.

Born in Dessow, Germany, Mr. Linn worked on his parents’ farm which was used to train mental health professionals in the art of “horticultural therapy.” With the rise of the Nazis, his family fled Germany for Palestine, now Israel. Mr. Linn then went to the Institute of Applied Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland to train as a psychoanalyst. He immigrated to New York City in 1946 and became a well known landscape designer working on such projects as the Seagram Building. In the 1950s he turned to making community gardens in depressed neighborhoods around the country.

Mr. Linn came to Penn in 1959 as an assistant professor of landscape architecture and remained here until 1964. He started drafting his students to work in low-income neighborhoods to build what he called “neighborhood commons”—communal spaces that bring neighbors together. According to an article in Sierra Club’s Sierra Magazine, “though Linn was popular with the students he taught at the School of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the dean was not a fan.”

However, one of Linn’s defenders was Louis Kahn, a fellow professor and world-renowned architect. In a 1963 letter to Dean G. Holmes Perkins, Kahn wrote, “Having recognized the signs of a new way of life, [Linn’s] efforts are designed to reconstruct a concept of the usefulness of man and his role as contributor to the community of men.” Mr. Linn founded the Neighborhood Renewal Corp based in Philadelphia in 1961. The organization assisted members of disadvantaged communities in reclaiming, designing and rebuilding blighted urban spaces.

He later taught at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and  MIT.

Mr. Linn is survived by his wife, Nicole Milner; his son, Mark; three stepchildren; three grandchildren; and a brother, Henry.


Maryellen McDonald, Alumni Records

Maryellen McDonald, former manager of Alumni and Development Records, died on February 11 at the age of 51.

Mrs. McDonald earned a bachelor’s degree from Richard Stockton College. In 1987, she earned her master’s degree in library and information sciences from Drexel University.

She worked as director of recruitment in the College of Information Science and Technology at Drexel and developed its first web site. In 1995 she joined Alumni and Development Records at Penn as a manager and stayed in that position until 1999. That year she returned to Drexel as student systems administrator.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Howard D. White; her father, Eugene McDonald; her stepmother, Mary McDonald; three brothers and two sisters. Memorial donations may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 1 Reed Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.


To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136  or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 22, February 22, 2005


February 22, 2005
Volume 51 Number 22


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