Niall Kirkwood

Niall Kirkwood is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he has taught since joining the faculty in 1992. He was educated and licensed as a landscape architect and architect in the United Kingdom and as a landscape architect in the United States. From 2003-2009, he was the thirteenth Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture, the oldest such program in North America, founded in 1901 by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Arthur Shurcliff. From 1999-2003 and 2005-2007, he was Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Degree Programs (MLA), and from 1999-2003, he was the coordinator of the "Design and Environment" track of the Master in Design Studies Program (MDes), the mid-career program at the GSD.

He is the Gerard O'Hare Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and holds appointments at Beijing University, China, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, Korea University, Seoul (Visiting Scholar) and University of Hongkong (External Examiner). He is a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, the Harvard University Center for the Environment and a member of the faculty steering committee of The Harvard Global Health Institute.

Kirkwood is Editor-in Chief of Nakhara: Journal of Environmental Design and Planning (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), RISE Journal (Seoul, Korea) and Advisory Editor of Landscape Architecture Journal (China). His essays and articles on his research and teaching have been published in Landscape Architecture Magazine (USA), Landscape (UK), Journal of Chinese Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architecture Korea, BusinessWorld India, City Planning Review: Journal of City Planning Institute of Japan, Landscape Architecture Journal (China), Eco City and Green Building Journal, Landscape Record, China, Worldscape (China), Environment and Landscape Architecture of Korea, Urban Space Design (China) and Harvard Design Magazine.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2009 and an honorary Fellow of the Kew Guild, The Royal Gardens at Kew, England also in 2009. He was recognized for his global leadership in the area of post-industrial regeneration and brownfields by a honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institute of Landscape Architects, United Kingdom (ILA) in 1988 and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architectural Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUK) in 1978.

The scope of Kirkwood's teaching, research, publishing and landscape consulting practice all emphasize a broader understanding of current and emerging technologies and techniques from landscape, civil and environmental engineering, and how this understanding can best result in more creative and progressive design work in the field of landscape architecture.

Kirkwood teaches in core and option landscape design studios and offers lecture courses and seminars on the subject of design and aspects of technology in Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. Previous option design studios include: GSD 1401 Mumbai Metropolitan: Adapting the Township Lands, Mumbai, India (2008); GSD 1402 Mumbai Margins: Rethinking the Island City, Mumbai, India (2007); GSD 1402 Maximum Mumbai, Minimum Mumbai: Repositioning the Cotton Textile Mill Lands, Girangaon, Central Mumbai, India (2006); GSD 1404 Altered Faces: Reworking the Teheran Corridor, Seoul, Korea (2004) and Motor City Landscapes: Detroit Riverfront (1999).

Core studio courses include: GSD 1211 Landscape Architecture III; GSD 1211 Planning and Design of Landscapes

Lecture courses include: GSD 6242 Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies IVGSD 6323 Brownfield Practicum: Regeneration and Reuse of Brownfield Lands; GSD 6219 Plants and Technology II, GSD 6206 Landscape Technology; GSD 6442 Rebuilding Devastated Environments: Sustainable Landscape Development in the 21st Century; GSD 6304 Siteworks; GSD 6303 Site Planning; GSD 2103 Drawing the Landscape

Research seminars have included: GSD 6454 Poetics of Landscape Construction; GSD 9108 PHYTO Remediation and Rebuilding Technologies in the Landscape; GSD 9206 Mumbai Matters: Assembling Urban India; GSD 9206 Reimagining India: A New Urban Enterprise?; GSD 3501 MLA I AP/MLA II Landscape Architecture Professional Seminar; GSD 6323 Brownfields: Sustainable Redevelopment of Brownfield Sites in Dorchester and East Boston, MA; GSD 6400 Landfill Enduse: Freshkills Landfill Regeneration, Staten Island, NY;  GSD 6440 Land Reclamation and Remediation Technologies;  GSD 6323 Advanced Seminar on Landscape Technology: Brownfields; GSD 6323 Manufactured Sites.

Professor Kirkwood carries out research into landscape reclamation, the reuse of former industrial or polluted land, site remediation technologies, urban landscape planning and design, landscape detail design, traditional and emerging construction technologies and the on-going durability of built landscapes. He is a leading academic internationally in the field of land regeneration across a range of scales and geographies. Areas of specific focus include mining extraction sites, urban brownfields, municipal landfills, the regeneration of Superfund sites, decommissioned military bases, closed manufacturing facilities and the invention and production of landscape site materials and applied remediation technologies. More recently his research has focused on aspects of landscape, technology and urbanization in Korea, China and India.

He is the founder and director of the Center for Environment and Technology (CTE), a research, advisory and executive education initiative at the GSD. The Center since 1997 has focused on site analysis, remediation, sustainable reclamation issues, emerging landscape materials and educational design outreach in North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Research projects include: Expo 2106 ‘City and Nature’ Regeneration Site Design, Tangshan, China; Urban Ireland: The City of Belfast as a Laboratory of Change; Dongchun New Town Housing Landscape, Korea; Hanam Misa Housing Landscape, Seoul, Korea; Post-mining reclamation strategies for the Pingshuo Mining Company, Shanxi, China; Vertical and Horizontal Moss Panel Surface Technologies with Il Song Landscape Research, Seoul, Korea; Strategies for development of the DMZ National Forest- ‘Forest of Peace’ for Ministry of Forestry, Korea; Research on the low carbon city for the Mayor’s Office, Metropolitan Region of Seoul, Korea, an analysis and report on U-Eco Cities, for the Korea Institute of Construction & Transportation Technology Evaluation and Planning (KICTEP) and collaboration with MK Singh, (Delhi) and Samsung C&T Corporation, Engineering and Construction Group on sustainable design and development in Mumbai.

Book Cover Weathering and Durability in Landscape Architecture

His award winning book 
The Art of Landscape Detail (John Wiley, 1999), (Chinese translation 2004), examines the materials, structure, and language of detail as a means of not only understanding contemporary landscape design work, but as a source of future ideas and creative expression in Landscape Architecture. This book is used internationally as a key text book in Landscape Architecture in courses and studios.

Weathering and Durability in Landscape Architecture (John Wiley, 2004) (Chinese translation due 2016) continues this research by examining the topics of materiality, time, and change in the constructed landscape. 

Detroit Riverfront: Motor City Landscape (GSD Press, 2000) (with co-author Mary Margaret Jones) illustrates the studio results of a re-imagining of downtown Detroit in the transformation of the post- industrial waterfront.

Detroit Riverfront: Motor City Landscape Manufactured Sites: Rethinking the Post-Industrial Landscape


Principles of Brownfield Regeneration: Clean-up, Design and Reuse of Derelict Land Principles of Brownfield Regeneration: Clean-up, Design and Reuse of Derelict Land, Korean translation


Manufactured Sites: Rethinking the Post-Industrial Landscape (Spon/Taylor Francis, 2001) (Arabic Translation 2016) is an globally acclaimed publication resulting from an exhibition and international conference of the same name conceived, organized and curated by Professor Kirkwood and held at the GSD that brought to the landscape architecture field the concerns of land reclamation and the integration of innovative technologies and design strategies in their redevelopment and regeneration.

Principles of Brownfield Regeneration: Clean-up, Design and Reuse of Derelict Land (co-authored with Professor Justin Hollander and Julia Gold, both Tufts University) (Island Press, 2010) (Korean Translation 2011, Chinese translation 2012) concerns the subject of contaminated sites, including derelict abandoned land from former heavy industrial and manufacturing uses. ‘Principles’ outlines approaches to the background, analysis, remediation and reuse of brownfield lands in North America. Written for a lay audience the book also serves as a general introduction to brownfields for planners, designers and community and municipal leaders.



PHYTO: Site Remediation and Landscape Design, (co-authored with Kate Kennen ASLA) (Routledge, 2015) (Korean and Chinese Translations forthcoming 2016) introduces the first book published on the use of plants in remediating polluted landscapes from a design point of view. The book also presents a new concept to create projective planting designs with preventative phytotechnology abilities, ‘phytobuffering’ where future pollution may be expected for particular site programs.

Prior to joining the Harvard faculty Kirkwood worked fifteen years in private design practice in Edinburgh, Scotland, London, England and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a registered landscape architect and architect carrying out urban land reclamation, landscape architectural design, urban architecture, and development projects in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.A. These included Ardeer Quarry and Saltcoats Landfill Reclamation, Ayrshire, Scotland, Canary Wharf, London Docklands, Hotel del Artes, Vila Olimpica, Barcelona, Royal Albert Docks, London Docklands, Bishopsgate and Ludgate Developments, City of London, Wexner Center, Columbus Ohio, and the British Embassy and Chancellery, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

People: Niall Kirkwood

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