The founding four and our multidisciplinary roots.
William Roberts, Brittany Coyle
The founding four—David A. Wallace, Ian L. McHarg, William H. Roberts, and Thomas A. Todd—as faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, were encouraged to undertake part-time consulting services as a means to teach from practical experience. With this in mind, Wallace and McHarg solicited a planning assignment for 70 square miles of rural land in Baltimore County, Maryland, the Greenspring and Worthington valleys. Soon after “Plan for the Valleys,” the young practice won another assignment, a master plan for the redevelopment of the Baltimore Inner Harbor.
These professional contracts brought Bill Roberts and Tom Todd together with Wallace and McHarg to form an ongoing multidisciplinary firm with four equal partners.
By the end of the 60s, the firm’s multidisciplinary practice had established itself as a leader, having won several planning and design projects and awards. McHarg’s renowned book Design with Nature further added to the firm’s growing reputation. As one of the first firms in the country to offer a multidisciplinary approach, WMRT’s early projects for environmental planning and urban waterfront redevelopment attracted worldwide recognition. Academic institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, heralded the firm's work as a model of a responsible and practical approach to planning and urban design.