Cultural Landscapes Blog

10/19/2018 - 7:50am

On October 1st, Allison James joined UVA’s School of Architecture as the new Project Manager for the Landscape Studies Initiative in the Center for Cultural Landscapes. Allison’s experience ranges from serving as a research assistant on the MIT/Harvard/Aga Khan digital platform ARCHNET, project managing of civic scale public art installations for contemporary artists in the Program of Art Cultural and Technology at MIT, managing NIH grants for scientists at Harvard, and participating in a wide range of local and international community development projects over the past several years.

At UVA, Allison is looking forward to developing this innovative digital resource in landscape design history, and the opportunity to make these histories more accessible and meaningful to garden and landscape students and scholars within the humanities as well as design fields. She says, “I believe in the need for and the strength of a research and pedagogical tool that will engage not only landscape architecture, but also the wider conservation, architectural history, urban planning and geography fields. I’m looking forward to being part of a project that will open up opportunities for increased rigor in research by making resources available in a centralized location. The platform will allow researchers to trace patterns and discover the facets of cultural landscapes globally.”

10/18/2018 - 11:55am

On Friday September 21st, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers sat down with the Center for Cultural Landscape’s Beth Meyer to discuss her new retrospective, Saving Central Park: A History and a Memoir. In 1980, Betsy Rogers founded the Central Park Conservancy, the first public-private urban park partnership, to create a management and funding mechanism to care for New York’s Central Park (1857). After decades of disinvestment, Rogers and other New Yorkers recognized the need to increase awareness of the park’s cultural significance to the history of the city, its ecological value as a habitat for wildlife, and its social role in the everyday lives of so many city residents. In addition to her work as the President of the Central Park Conservancy, Rogers is an accomplished landscape critic and historian authoring numerous books including The Forests and Wetlands of New York City, Frederick Law Olmsted’s New York, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History, and Green Metropolis.

08/02/2018 - 8:08am

From the Institute for Environmental Negotiation:

The University of Virginia Sustainable Food Strategy Task Force (SFSTF<>) is excited to announce an upcoming Bicentennial Symposium event -- Our Evolving Food System: from Slavery to Sovereignty -- to occur on October 17 and 18, 2018.

Event registration opens today, August 1!  All events are free and open to the public, but we ask that participants do RSVP on the website<> to ensure availability of space. You have the option of registering for the full Symposium, which includes an evening event in downtown Charlottesville on October 17 and a full day of discussion events at UVA on October 18, or you may register for particular events that interest you most. For more information about Registration and event details, please visit our website:

05/01/2018 - 4:31pm

On April 19, 2018, University of Virginia School of Architecture hosted the Benjamin C. Howland Memorial Lecture featuring Walter Hood, and an accompanying panel discussion, “Landscape Perspectives for Future Publics,” on April 20. 

Walter Hood is Creative Director of Hood Design Studio, a Cultural Practice based in and a Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and Urban Design at University of California Berkeley.  Hood’s lecture, entitled Memory Workers, was dedicated to Doria Dee Johnson, a family historian and activist scholar who passed away this year, whose Great-Great Grandfather Anthony Crawford was lynched in 1916 in South Carolina (see her family’s story at 

04/19/2018 - 1:33pm

On April 10th, the Center for Cultural Landscapes hosted Caitlin DeSilvey, Associate Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Exeter, as part of its ongoing series of Restoration round tables during the 2017-2018 school year. This set of discussions, organized by Lisa Goff, Assistant Professor of American Studies, aims to examine the concept of restoration in multiple disciplines across built, natural, historic, political and literary environments.  This round table discussion followed DeSilvey’s delivery of the 2018 Hanbury Endowed Lecture in Historic Preservation entitled Curated Decay: Inevitable Loss and Other Opportunities.

In her presentations, DeSilvey started with her early experience as a curator of a derelict homestead in Montana.  She described her engagement with objects like an abandoned book collection that had become habitat for various creatures, which once preserved lost some of their vitality.  This ambivalence about the act of ‘saving’ objects, often seen as the primary goal of historic preservation, led to her career in exploring alternative practices that engage various temporal processes, included decay, disturbance, inhabitation, succession and loss.  These practices, DeSilvey argues, are becoming increasingly necessary in a world full of significant histories affected by processes like climate change, deindustrialization, fiscal austerity, and abandonment.

04/06/2018 - 3:08pm

Charlottesville, Va., with travel to Eastern Shore

One internship available - DEADLINE APRIL 18

Archiving, digital archives, history, metadata management, museum work

04/04/2018 - 8:19pm

The Center for Cultural Landscapes hosted Julie Bargmann as part of its ongoing series of Restoration round tables during the 2017-2018 school year. This set of discussions, organized by Lisa Goff, Assistant Professor of American Studies, aims to examine the concept of restoration in multiple disciplines across built, natural, historic, political and literary environments. Bargmann,  a UVA Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, is internationally renown for her critical design practice D.I.R.T. Studio.  For twenty-five years, D.I.R.T. Studio has worked for clients and communities tramsforming degraded, polluted and marginal sites into social and public landscapes.

Bargmann opened her remarks by questioning the suitability of the prefix “RE.”  She noted that throughout her career, she has been plagued by “re” words, including “reclamation” and “remediation” as her interest turned to highly contaminated post-industrial sites in the 1990s.  Rather than restoration, Bargmann prefers to characterize her approach as a projection forward of ongoing productive cycles of the landscape.   She is searching for other words- cyclical cities, continuums of use, or fallow cities may better suit her design motivations and explorations.

03/31/2018 - 2:23pm

From March 21-March 25, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture held their annual conference in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Thursday's opening keynote speaker was Majora Carter, an urban revitalization strategist from the South Bronx, New York.  Carter traced her ongoing community development work in the neighborhood she grew up in, beginning with urban parks and green infrastructure projects of Sustainable South Bronx  which she founded in 2001, and moving to her current work in real estate development and work force training in the South Bronx through her B Corporation the Majora Carter Group.  CELA awarded a lifetime achievement award to landscape architect Jie Hu, an accomplished educator and practitioner whose career has spanned education at Beijing Forestry University, The University of Illinois, Sasaki Associates, and Tsinghua University as well as work on innumerable landscape projects including the master plan design for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  The final keynote was delivered by folklorist Roddy Moore, who presented his work on Appalachian coal country, presenting tales of an Appalachia populated by non-Anglo-Saxon European immigrants and African Americans, complicating and challenging totalizing narratives and imagery commonly associated with the region.

03/08/2018 - 9:09pm

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground
National Heritage Area

The Cutting Edge of Public History:
New Directions in Interpretation


March 28 – 29, 2018
MIB Auditorium | Department of the Interior | Washington, D.C.

The symposium is designed to focus on new approaches and best practices in presenting American history and to showcase leaders in the field. Public history specialists will lead panel discussions on a wide range of topics including new exhibitions on slavery and criminal justice and innovative educational programs for teachers and students. Registration closes March 13th. Tickets are $30. 

Ticket sales close Tuesday, March 13th! Buy your ticket now!

02/23/2018 - 3:16pm

In March, the Landscape Studies Initiative will host a two day workshop at Oak Spring Garden Library and Foundation (OSGF), situating design landscapes within the history of science and technology, in part by building off the Foundation’s rich archival collections. In preparation, on January 26th Beth Meyer and Meg Studer visited the Library, met with the archival team, led by Tony Willis, and discussed research approaches with Dr. Peter Crane,  OSGF’s director (former Dean of Yale Forestry and director at Kew). 

For the OSGF workshop, the Landscape Studies Initiative will focus on a) horticultural practices of plant and soil construction, b) the visual culture of temporal dynamics and adaptations, and c) the global interaction of nursery trades, botanical, and colonial exploration in the 18th-19th centuries.

To those ends, the trip offered abundant entry points for considering the intersections of natural history and scientific discovery with landscape: From amazing prints by the Linnaean illustrator Georg Dionysius Ehret to the cinematic ‘transparencies’ of Carmontelle, the collection provides abundant opportunity to compare, juxtapose, and consider the shifting notions of time - temporal endurance, perception, as well as the nested physiological cycles and extended geological durees – as manifest and amplified in specimen and site. In addition, OSGF’s excellent horticultural and arboricultural manuals – from Duhamel du Monceau’s Du Transport… Du Bois to Amos William’s Minutes in Agriculture & Planting - make visible the influence and mutual inflections of new materials, technological and horticultural innovations on the forms of landscape designed, maintained, and managed across the 18th and 19th centuries.

We’re looking forward to an amazing discussion on how the Initiative’s archival platform can enable compelling access and novel exploration of digitized collections like Oak Spring’s materials.