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Kathryn L. Gleason



441 Kennedy Hall

Kathryn Gleason is Professor of Landscape Architecture. Trained as a landscape architect and archaeologist, she is an internationally renowned specialist on the archaeology of past landscapes, particularly designed features such as parks and gardens. Her primary area of research is the Mediterranean region of the ancient Roman World, where she is working to establish the ancient foundations of landscape architecture. A professor of contemporary design, she brings her research to bear on the 21st century landscape by teaching approaches to design with the physical remains of the past. She also applies ancient methods of arid climate cultivation to modern problems of development. Her field research has been conducted recently in India, Jordan, Israel and Italy.

Research Focus

The Romans of the first centuries BC and AD were innovators of public parks and monumental gardens, developing a form of design and a professional discipline akin to modern landscape architecture. An extensive system of plant trade and hydrological engineering was needed to construct these projects. Through excavation projects at Petra (Jordan) Caesarea Maritima (Israel) and Horace`s Villa and Rome (Italy) my research is uncovering the built nature of these landscapes and their role in the various cultures of the Empire.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Knowledge gained by excavating cultivation and water management technologies in the ancient landscape can be useful in contemporary development projects, either in developing areas or where the relationship of culture and cultivation have a close bond to be reinforced. Whether recreating a water harvesting system in the palaces of Nagaur, India, rebuilding waffle gardens and connecting the children of Zuni pueblo to their religious traditions, or turning the palace of Herod the Great at Caesarea into a National Park site, my work seeks to sustain contemporary culture through a recognition of the temporal depth and materiality of every landscape.

Teaching Focus

Each site a landscape architect approaches has an archaeology to be explored. Integration of the extant and relict natural and cultural systems of a landscape can lead to innovative design solutions for contemporary developments that create a distinctive "sense of place" while engaging the wider culture of a community.

Basic landscape architectural design; international issues in landscape architecture; ancient landscape architecture.

Basic principles of landscape architecture; landscape history and archaeology; preparing for professional practice.

Awards and Honors

  • Council of Fellows (2011) American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Fellow, American Academy in Rome (1986)
  • Senior Fellow (2020) Dumbarton Oaks
  • 2019 PROSE Award for Gardens of the Roman Empire for the best single volume reference work in the humanities (2019) The Association of American Publishers
  • Professeur invitĂ© (2014) Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure de Paris/CNRS